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zimproguide

A brief description of a brilliant day i had in Hwange recently.

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zimproguide

I often write up a little story after i have had a special experience or a great day out while guiding. I guess it is kind of a trip report so i will put my most recent one here that involves Matt Wilkinson and Ken Coe who have recently stayed with us at Camp Hwange.

 

I have finally had some time to sit down and write a little bit about the day that i had.a couple days ago I was on safari with Matt and Ken we had decided to do a full day safari as the beasts we were seeking were sable and roan. We had a lot of rain in Hwange last rainy season and the natural pans have held water much longer than your average year. This has been fantastic for the wild life but a little tough from a guiding perspective as it can make for some drives that can go on quite bait before seeing something good. Anyway mother nature will always throw you a bone so to speak in the form of what i like to call little gems. We had driven to Big Toms waterhole in the west of Hwange hoping to see Roan as Ken and I know that it was an area known for Roan and possibly some Sable too. We did find a nice herd of Roan a couple kilometers before the waterhole and go some great photos of a beautiful bull. Roan and Sable really are good looking antelope in anyones book i believe. We arrived at Big Toms and Ken quickly noticed a Sable bull way out on the tree line. We waited a while and got some shots at a distance. While waiting Matt notices that there are vultures on the ground up the dry river course to our right. Since the Sable is not moving we decide to go over and have a look on foot.

 

On approaching where the vultures are on the ground we see lions jump up from under a bush on the other side of the dry river bed. They are about two hundred meters away and trot off towards another thicket. We stop and watch as they move off. Slowly we move towards the area where the kill is. The fact that the vultures were feeding on it tells me the lions are done with it. When we have gone forward a bit i look to my left and a gap has opened up and see another lioness, she is lying under the same bush but is just sitting there looking at us. Quickly i point her out to Matt and Ken; we stop and look in her direction. She just stares back at us. I tell me them remember is she comes we stand, dont move. The lioness just stares at us. I know that if she wants to charge there are some things she needs to do first. She is lying on her side with her two back legs on one side, she is going to go into a crouch position and put those two legs under her first. She will also give you signals, her tail will twitch, her head will lower and her ears will flatten. He head lowers a bit but thats about it. We look at her and she looks back lying broadside. I decide to move forward a bit. I tell Matt and Ken again if she comes we stand. We move forward slowly and nothing from her, and then there is small twitch of her tail. I tell my guest to drop down slowly and we sit. She has told me how close in close enough, we sit and watch her. Super confident cat, i have a good look at her through the binos and she is in great shape. She is the most relaxed lion that i have had the pleasure of meeting on foot. We pull back and walk on a bit further looking to see if we can see anything of the other lions but dont.

 

Later that afternoon we are back on our concession after having lunch at Big Toms and then heading back. We have just changed to memory card in the camera trap that Matt and I set up the day before. We had a brilliant little two hundred meter walk to change the card as there were two elephant bulls we approached and spent a bit of time with on foot. As we are back at the car the radio comes to life. All i hear is Dogs, corner pan. They relaxed, come quick. It is one of the other guides. We jump in the car and head towards corner pan, thankfully it is close and after a quick drive get there to see six Painted dogs. They are relaxed but are starting to get active and going through there greeting and reaffirming of bonds ritual that normally preludes a hunt. This they do and we get some great shots before they trot off, we follow for a bit till they disappear into thick bush. We are all buzzing as we had a great finish to the day and i decide to head to Roan pan for sundown drink and i am sure there will be elephant there drinking. We arrive and there is some elephant drinking, i jump out and get drinks. I walk round to the front and pass my Matt and Ken their drinks and the Matt who is the front of the car says we need some lions to finish off the day now. About a second passes and from behind us we hear a lion roar, when a lion roars and you are close to it the sound is incredible. I jump in the car and we move towards the sound. Theyre lying on a path is a male lion. I move forward slowly and see that it is Vusi, one of the resident dominant boys from the east. I say Vusi because that is the name he was given by the lion research tean here in Hwange when he was added to their database of lions in Hwange. I am not a big fan of naming wild animals as they do not belong to you but it does make it easier to keep track of whos who. I am happy to see that it is Vusi as he is a lion with a very relaxed temperament around vehicles and even on foot in my experience. His coalition partner Naxha is the exact opposite.

 

We move up to him and park about eight meters away from him. He is lying broadside to us and looking very relaxed. We sit and watch then from up the road we hear a lion roar. It must be Naxha as Vusi immediately replies but does not get up. As i said to hear a lion roar from close is incredible but to hear one roar from eight meters is sound that simply says pure power. It is the sound of the king. We sit and take in this spectacle, Matt sipping on gin and tonic and watching, Ken taking photos and possibly the odd sip of his beer!

 

Naxha is obviously still walking away as we can hear his call again but fainter now and Vusi answers again. It really was a special moment to sit with a lion like that and hear him roar, spiritual in my opinion. Then suddenly from behind us and to our left another lion roars from probably two hundred meters away. Immediately Vusi is up and roaring back and trotting in that direction. Vusis reaction says that is foe, no friend. It is now pretty much dark, we try to drive round a little thicket that Vusi walked into and soon my Matt who is now spotlighting picks up some eye shine. We move forward and find a lioness lying at the edge of a small pan. The angle she is at seams wrong as to where the sound came from. We sit in the dark and watch the lioness and listen for any movement. By now the other vehicle from our camp has joined us behind us. They see a lion race past in between us in their headlights and then we hear commotion of lions running and grunting and then elephants trumping and crashing through the trees. The sound moves past us to our left and we see a quick glimpse of eyes then they are gone again. Then it goes quiet.

 

We sit and take in the last ten minutes. What an experience. We make our way back to the road and see that Vusi is now lying on the opposite side of Roan pan looking quite relaxed again. It has to have been one of the new up and coming male lions that are making a bid for this territory. There is a coalition of two and one lone male, all about four and half years old. Vusi has obviously seen him off but it is interesting to see the strategy, I am sure that young male sat and waited until he heard that Naxha was some distance down the road then he called so that he had Vusi one on one or even possibly two on one if it was the coalition of two.

 

I am in inclined to think it was the single male as i had found him calling before a few months back, that time he sat and called Naxha and Vusi in from far and then ran when they arrived. Also i had seen him two nights before not far from here.

 

So there you have a little summary if the fantastic day i had a couple days ago.full of little gems that keep us coming back for our drug that is Africa and her wildlife.

 

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twaffle

Fantastic, what a great day and I can't wait to see the photos from the team. :)

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wilddog

Exciting times. @@zimproguide So pleased for Matt and Ken and of course your self. A very special experience.

 

No doubt Matt and Ken will add some pictures in time but it would very interesting for us all to hear more about the male take over bids etc. as they progress and whenever you have time. :)

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TonyQ

@@zimproguide

A great day - thank you

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Atravelynn

Thanks for sharing with us your exciting day when Matt was there, Ken too. There is even a bit of a suspenseful ending as we don't know what will happen with the new young males on the scene.

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zimproguide

I will keep you posted on what happens with the lions in camp for sure. It is going to be interesting.

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graceland

@@zimproguide

 

What a great day with you Ken and Matt....We were with Craig and left the day they arrived, but with so many memories of the wildlife at Camp Hwange. I am thrilled Matt had the sightings we was hoping for!

I am sure Matt will be writing a full report ASAP ( ;) )

 

 

It was also nice meeting you as well!

 

More reports are always appreciated :)

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Marks

Thanks for the excellent story, I was perfectly transported to the bush for a few minutes!

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Safaridude

Brilliantly reported, Julian. I will never forget Sep 22, 2014!

Edited by Safaridude

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offshorebirder

Thanks very much @@zimproguide for the informative and gripping mini-report!

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Game Warden

It really was an amazing afternoon/evening during which the coincidence of my words and Vusi roaring, (perhaps one second), really ended the day on a high. Of course the males fighting in amongst the elephant herd, lions running this way and that, me spotting the lioness, the dogs moments before, walking up to the relaxed lioness on the kill, etc etc.

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