We had seen four of the big five in Balule Nature Reserve and then spotted a white rhino late in the day at Kruger National Park. The big five animals are lion, elephant, cape buffalo, leopard, rhino. The term comes from when big game hunters came to Africa to hunt. Now tourists come just to shoot them on their cameras in the wild. People become obsessed about seeing them, even considering their trip unsuccessful if they don’t spot them.
I want to see everything, not just the big 5, including birds; I have to admit I am a closeted bird watcher and can’t believe how many new birds I have seen; I have positively identified well over a hundred. Helen calls me a ‘twitcher’, a derogatory British term for bird watcher! I don’t care, I love birds.
Yellow bill hornbill on termite hill
Marshall Eagle takes flight
Hello gorgeous. Lappet-faced Vulture
We took our first game drive early, 6:00 am, when the animals are most active before the African sun becomes too hot. We set off in the well-used but reliable Land Rover, with our ranger Greg, and tracker, Richard, who sits on a seat mounted to the hood of the rover. We crested a small hill and immediately saw a lioness lounging on a rock in the sun.
Greg pulled within ten yards and it was only after we stopped that we noticed another lioness. Greg pointed out two more lions in the grass, less than six feet away, directly in front of me, totally camouflaged, almost impossible to see.
The lions were totally unconcerned with our presence, like we were not there at all. Greg, explained that The Rover is neither prey nor predator, so the animals for the most part ignore it. Suddenly, one of the lions got up and walked towards us, Greg: “trust me: remain calm and don’t move”. Easy to do; I wasn’t even breathing. The lioness came within a few feet of the Rover and did a full circle around us; I could have leaned out and patted her on the head.