Recently the other researchers and I took another busman’s holiday, being taken on a game drive on the nearby Karongwe reserve with a researcher there. We are a bit used to the normal game drive animals, and luckily the researcher was looking for particular animals for the daily data collection.
The first was a cheetah, exciting enough by herself but add in her four cubs and we were buzzing with anticipation. We were not let down. The adult is habituated to humans walking near her so we managed to get roughly 10-15m away from her and the cubs, who were absolutely adorable! Climbing trees, climbing mum, licking mum, being licked by mum, scrambling on a termite mound … they were spectacular. We all agreed that there isn’t much cuter than a cheetah cub – so fluffy!
Not long after we tracked down the male lion, who was sound asleep. I think that maybe he twitched his ears when we approached in the vehicle. We were told that he had been eating a zebra kill for the last couple of days. We couldn’t see the zebra, but could definitely smell it!
We were finishing up the game drive, having seen some of the usual game such as giraffes and zebras, and were driving back to the house. However, not long before reaching it (in fact, just as we were about to turn into the driveway), we heard an almighty crashing noise and realised that there were a bachelor herd of elephants nearby. In the dark. Whilst we were in an open top game drive vehicle. Between us and the house. Nervous doesn’t cover what I was feeling. A couple of the boys ambled out of the darkness towards us, with an unusual surprise. One of them had a rug and another had a foam mattress – stolen goods! The one with the mattress flipped his trunk and tossed the mattress onto the back of his neck. Despite the nervousness and shock, we all ended up giggling away madly. I think it was definitely one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos as we were using a red spotlight to see, and my camera isn’t suitable for low light settings. Oh well, the memory lives on in my head! They wandered off not long after and we drove back to the house, finding that they had pulled up the water pipe! Thank goodness there are no elephants where I am!