The most memorable wildlife moments for most visitors to Africa usually involve the excitement of a kill or an unusual sighting of some kind. These experiences are understandably thrilling, but sometimes it’s the quiet moments that can make a game drive unforgettable. Field guide Jenny Hishin describes just such an occasion which took place recently during a particularly golden sunrise at Singita Pamushana in Zimbabwe:
“It was the last game drive of a very successful safari so we decided to leisurely indulge ourselves in a beautiful open area surrounded by cathedral mopane and baobabs. As we arrived, we found a clan of hyenas regrouping after their nocturnal activities. They seemed to use our vehicle’s position as a gathering point, and ambled in from all directions, yawning, greeting and playing with one another before settling down in the track for a nap while the sun rose.
I thought it would be good to stay with them for as long as possible, because being such strong and opportunistic predators they will often spot a leopard, wild dogs or cheetah, even lions, and try and steal a kill from them. So we did just that, capturing beautiful photos in the early morning light in the process and enjoying the indulgence of watching their regrouping behaviour.
After an hour or so we left, sure that there was nothing else in the area because the hyenas were snoozing. I am not exaggerating when I say that I drove no more than 50 metres down the track when I found two cheetahs in the road heading into the intense sunrise gold. They were two males, and just beginning their day with a bit of scent marking and scouting around. After a while they lay down in the track in front of us. We were now sandwiched between a clan of tough hyenas and two ‘delicate’ cheetahs. A late-comer hyena ambled up the track, having to pass the cheetahs and us to get to the clan. When it got within a few metres of the cheetahs they reluctantly got up, moved off, then settled back down. The hyena and its clan paid them no attention at all! Once both species were settled I reversed out of the way and had hyenas to our left, and cheetahs to our right, in full light, framed against the stateliest of cathedral mopanes and a baobab. What a moment!”
Visit the Wildlife Reports section of our site to see the full story of last month’s wildlife sightings and landscape changes in the Malilange Reserve. You can also follow Jenny on Instagram to see more regular updates from her adventures in the bush.
Singita Pamushana Lodge operates in partnership with The Malilangwe Trust, a non-profit organisation dedicated to harmonising conservation activities, community development outreach programs and commercial tourism. Together we are responsible for the protection and care of 130,000 extraordinary acres of land adjacent to the Gonarezhou National Park in southeastern Zimbabwe.