With time rapidly running out I was desperate for some more leopard action. The cubs were becoming increasingly hard to find again, just like on my arrival. I saw them every few days but they were never doing much and when they were it was too far off road to approach or they were hidden by annoying branches so clear shots were impossible.
The next morning I was to embark on my first and only walking safari. A shame I didn’t go on more but tracking Alice by foot would have been fruitless. My guide Manda is one of the leading guides in the valley. His knowledge about everything is clear to see and he has a million and one stories to tell to keep you amused when game is sparse.
With access to the park limited to the morning hours and in the afternoon only till eight o’clock in the evening it isn’t hard to realise a huge amount of species and behaviour must go unseen. Plus due to its’ size its impossible to be in multiple spots at once in the park, so whilst you’re watching a herd of elephants grazing, a mile away a leopard could be making a kill unbeknown to you.
Baboons are right up there with the top animals in the park for me. Never ceasing to amuse me with their behaviour. I heard of one guest actually thinking they were called buffoons, quite accurate really.
Alongside Riverside drive; one of Alice’s favourite haunts, were some showy squirrels. These particular palm squirrels had found some prime real estate in the form of a few holes in an ebony tree.
It had been a relatively quiet drive before we arrived at Wamilombe and saw a few cars beneath an ebony tree. Knowing this usually meant leopard we headed over and sure enough sprawled out across a branch was Alice’s elder daughter.
There’s a saying in the bush that nothing dies of old age. It seems for every animal there’s another that will happily kill it, be it for food or territory.
One morning I was walking up to the lodge before sunrise when I spotted the lions actually right outside the lodge and they weren’t lying down, shocking! Grabbing some food I headed out in the direction they were heading and found them a bit further along the main lagoon.
I’ve seen leopard kills last for days but with wild dogs you’re lucky if there’s anything left after 20 minutes. They have voracious appetites. The local Mfuwe pack (5 dogs) once killed a juvenile puku and a bushbuck in the space of an hour and I managed to miss both by minutes!
One of the main reasons I chose to be a wildlife photographer and cameraman was so I could witness and record amazing animal behaviour. Wild dogs are one of those species that you wish for. Living in a pack with hierarchical structure when they're awake they are usually exhibiting some sort of interesting behaviour.