We've had a wild 2019, with four camp openings and some unbelievable wildlife experiences. So, as with every year, it's nice to take a moment to reflect on what the year has blessed us with. This year saw some unique and unpredictable wildlife sightings, so we thought it would be great to take a moment at the end of the year and share the best ones.
6. Two Cheetahs Defend their Mother against Rival Male
Our most recent wildlife sighting in the Hwange National Park showed a fascinating display of behaviour where two young males who are still with their mother fight off a defending male who is trying to mate with her. It's interesting enough seeing four cheetahs in one sighting, but an interaction like this definitely added some drama to the scene.
5. Operation: Save Impala
All across Southern Africa this year we've seen a substantial change in climate bringing a massive drought to our national parks. Droughts are natures way of managing and controlling the numbers of wild animals. While we want to save each animal, we have to maintain a balance between when we can and can't help. In this case, our professional guide, Alf Ngwarai, was on a walking safari in Mana Pools National Park when he saw a baby impala struggling in the gooey mud and he decided to help.
4. Operation: Save Zebra
Another 'operation, save' video included some guests at Thorntree River Lodge helping out a poor zebra who's hoof was snagged in a wire. Poachers use wires called snares to catch animals, the wire pulls around the animals necks or legs like a noose. Tawanda, Obi, officer Emmanuel and Micheal Storch all played their part in freeing the zebra. They placed a branch over his head so that he couldn't struggle too much and hurt himself further then freed him from the wire, he trotted off enthusiastically into the distance.
3. Impala Trapped Between Wild Dogs and Croc
Wild dogs are the most successful predators in the African wild, this can be attributed to how brutal their hunting technique is. Dutch Kasale came across this impala darting in front of their vehicle with a pack of wild dogs on the hunt after him. Dutch followed them only to watch an interesting train of events unfold. This poor impala jumped into a nearby waterhole to escape the dogs and found himself stuck between a croc and a hard place. A warning for sensitive viewers, this is not an easy watch.
2. Lion Takes Down Young Elephant
Another harsh result of the drought was that many elephants in Hwange National Park found themselves tired and disoriented in the hot weather, which affected their decisions and caused them to break away from the herd and stay near water. In these instances, lions had targeted a lone and young elephants as prey. These are the demanding situations when operating in Africa, it's not always fair, but it's nature. Not for sensitive viewers.
1. Lioness vs Wild dog
This sighting was the most exciting wildlife scene many of us had seen for a while and best of all, it had a happy ending. This lioness is the daughter of the famous lion, Cecil. The pride lives in the Somalisa Concession, and we have been monitoring them and following their movements (Read Part 1 and Part 2 of Cecil's story). I have a theory on this - this lioness was away from her pride because she had young cubs, meaning she wasn't in her usual area, wild dogs avoid lion territories as much as possible being natural enemies. I believe she was in protection mode, and that's why she captured this wild dog.
Painted Dog Conservation followed up saying "the dog, named Notch is still alive and seemingly unharmed, which is a relief as he is the alpha male of the pack we call Kennedy pack. The alpha female, called Storm is pregnant, so some pups on the way. We couldn't identify the second dog grabbed (from this video) but 'it' also survived."
Seeing two prominent endangered predators in one scene engaging in this manner is a tough thing to see but it's great that they both came out of the incident unharmed.
BONUS. Baby Elephant Causing a Ruckus & The Cub Club - Bhubesi's Babies
Old but gold. These last videos weren't from 2019, but we added them in for the cuteness factor. One showcases a very big attitude on a very small elephant, and the other shows the cutest and naughtiest cubs playing with moms tail while she is trying to take a drink. She takes the abuse for the most part but eventually gives in and gives the cub a little scare. Both put a smile on our faces and gave us the fuzzy feelings.
So there you have it! A year of adventurous experiences and excellent sightings! Book your 2020 safari with African Bush Camps, and you just might be there for one of these unique sightings and take a look at our Live in Camp for more updates.