ON THE HUNT FOR LIONS ….

Another beautiful day has been given birth to here in this wondrous country that is Africa . We finished off the end of the evening yesterday by joining the other volunteer group here in watching a David Attenborough documentary about Africa which was both informative and hilarious at the same time and gave all of us some great laughs. But as 8:30 came around it was time to hit the sack and get some rest for tomorrow as our legs are knackered from the whole day of walking .

5:45 … beep beep beep .. nooooo !! lol our alarms wake us from our deep slumber , was it enough time to recover from yesterday ?? we hoped so ! Again we descended upon the reception area for some tea , coffee , toast and cereal as we knew it would be another loooong day out and about in the reserve .. we have now set a time of 6.3O to leave and to return at 15.3O which gives us a solid 9 hours of hiking through the bush which is about our limit lol .

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This morning we had Pieter as our guide as Nick was celebrating his birthday today so took the day off .. jammy sod lol – we think it was because even he couldn’t handle 2 days in a row of walking the whole day ! As we were just about to leave camp Pieter told us he had heard the Impala give out warning calls like a predator was around , just as he had said that Ben and Pieter heard a Lion calling from the North side of the reserve .. could this be the day for Lions ??!!

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Heading to the West side of the reserve across the road towering above the trees we spotted 4 Giraffe so made our way over to them to catch a closer look . We stood for a while and chatted about the Giraffe’s blood pressure and how it manages to keep blood being pumped up it’s huge neck and about water dependant animals and how they manage to survive on the reserve with very little water around . If an Impala’s food contains more than 33% moisture then it wouldn’t need to drink !! We then saw Impala and female Kudu up on the hillside behind the Giraffe and heard the Kudu’s bark which yet again is another warning call meaning predators were around .. eek !

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Making our way up the hillside one of us found a gigantic bone which we discovered was the Fibula of a Giraffe .. this thing seriously weighed about 10kg! And we all got to see just how dense it really was especially having to support all that weight . On the floor just in front of us .. Lion tracks !! and they seemed quite fresh from some time early this morning , possibly what made the kudu’s call out . The only obvious thing to do now was to try and track them and hunt them down  .

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Up and down the hill we trekked following the tracks this way and that way .. hmmm could they possibly be giving us the run around ??! it was hard to keep an eye on the tracks as the substrate ( ground type ) kept changing and on harder ground covered with grass no actual tracks were being left so we had to kind of go on instinct at some points . We saw the Kudu’s again now on the next adjacent hill maybe running away from danger .. most likely us haha . On top the rise we eventually lost the Lion tracks but in the distance spotted 4 White Rhino grazing on the hillside so decided to head over to them to get a closer look .

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As luck would have it by the time we got there about 30 minutes later they had already laid down to take a nap and where .. yup .. in the thicket of the bushes so they would be camouflaged and not disturbed .. typical ! but we did get a fairly good sighting of their side as they were laid down . Why do they make it soo difficult for us ?!!

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While on our way back towards camp so we could check out the East side to try and find the other pride of Lions we saw Large Spotted Genet tracks ( a small cat-like animal ) and plenty of Hyena tracks that were obviously very active this morning as we heard them calling from our rooms as we tucked ourselves in last night . We also saw White Backed Vultures flying overhead catching the warm thermals as the sun heated up the air and adult and juvenile Martial Eagles which are Africa’s largest Eagles !!

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Pieter also taught us a little about some of the alien plant species especially Chromelina which is an encroaching species that is a nightmare to get rid of and stops anything else from growing in the area as it releases toxins into the soil . There are many ways they have tried to rid themselves of this but have found controlled burning the most effective , it also helps promote new growth from the dead grasses affected by Chromelina .

Reaching the East side just up in front of the camp itself we picked up on the North pride of Lion’s tracks from this morning and managed to follow them for quite a while although Pieter did get a little annoyed as he asked us not to step on the tracks so he could trace them back later if needed but we kinda did a little by accident .. ooops lol . Stomachs started rumbling as 12 came upon us so we decided to give the Lions a break and sit down for some much needed chow and to give our aching feet a rest for 30 minutes or so . Eric or should we say ( Joseph Yves Eric Mayer Paradis ) took this literally and found himself a nice branch to rest on with his eye mask and blow up pillow – are you kidding me !! haha

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After lunch we picked back up on the Lion tracks in the hope that we would eventually find them but these tracks were now from about 6 hours ago and they can move pretty far in that time but we still had some faith so carried on regardless anyway . Up above we spotted more of Africa’s eagles .. an African Crowned Eagle and a Brown Snake Eagle also now trying to catch the thermals in the hope of getting a better view in order to catch its prey .

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Traipsing through the fields and drainage systems still brought no luck with regards to the Lions even after finding some Lion faeces from a couple of hours prior to our arrival , we headed to one last watering hole for one last ditch attempt … but NOTHING  . We did however have a great sighting of a Water Monitor Lizard just parking off in the middle of some branches sunning himself to warm up .

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Time was pushing on so we began to make our way back home seeing on the way some cool little balls of mud that had been dug up possibly by Jackals or something similar trying to get at the eggs of the Dung Beetles who roll balls of dung covered in mud then place one egg inside and bury it in the ground in order to protect them but these ones weren’t so lucky and ended up on someone’s dinner menu . Apparently only about 15-20% of Dug Beetles actually use this technique !! we thought they all did ! We also got talking about Elephant faeces and how they only digest about 40% of the food they take in and how after they have eaten they will continue to walk dropping their faces somewhere else and those faeces will then help the ecology of that particular area by aiding it with certain nutrients that are might be lacking in .. interesting .

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Finally we made it home for yet another refreshing dip in the pool .. well the boys anyway and a bit of a rest before dinner as we were now starving from all the walking ! Then during dinner one of the funniest moments we have had in the last few weeks .. after trying to pronounce Rui’s name properly and her telling us we were failing miserably … she tried to pronounce Ben’s name who also said nope she was saying it wrong sarcastically haha only to have her turn around and say well the pronunciation of Ben in Chinese means STUPID !! Well that had us all in stitches especially Deborah who found it hard to control herself haha . This must have continued for about 20 minutes or so with just constant laughter haha Well Done Rui !!  She then decided to tell us her English name is Joanna hahahah … what night .

To end off the boys chilled on the couches and did their bro thing while Debs and “ Joanna “ made their way to the fire with the other vols to make some smores with their marshmallows and chocolate .. nom nom nom .. girls and their sweet tooth’s hey !!

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