One needs to be careful not to get too caught up in chasing down the big five; this can be both frustrating and very time consuming. Take time, stop, and listen, or you could miss the sound of the honey guide’s call directing its hungry companion to a sticky feast, or forgo a sighting of nature’s waste army, the humble dung beetle with its polished armour.
Often, when you stop pursuing certain animals, they have the uncanny ability to somehow find you, usually at the most unexpected moments. This being said, tracking is one of the most exciting and crucial aspects about working in the bush. It plays a huge role in both the rangers’ and trackers’ daily routine. The tracker that I have most often worked with, Given Mhlongo, would get off the vehicle at every opportunity. I could see it in his eyes, the surge of adrenalin when we came across a fresh set of lion tracks. There is always the exhilarating rush of tracking a potentially dangerous animal and the satisfaction of eventually locating it.
The African bush has plenty to offer, a spectacle through a magnified lens: from the herds of impala, the impatient baboons, the shy zebras, to the sun-worshiping reptiles and insects that parade the scorched earth. Even something as simple as watching the sunset set the sky ablaze accompanied by the soft, whistling bird song is a moment to be forever lodged in the memory bank.
Spending time in the bush is an unforgettable experience and it is interesting how Sinigta guests very quickly adapt and are able to spot things that would have been impossible to see on the first day of their safari. I am often astounded how people from an urban environment are able to connect with the bush and improve their own knowledge. This is when things become interesting and one begins to understand the more discreet behaviour traits of certain species on closer inspection.
The Sabi Sand area is known for its big five sightings, but what really struck me on this last trip was the abundance and diversity of all species from the birds to the large herds of antelope and elusive reptiles. We as guides often joke that it is sometimes harder to find a common zebra then a shy leopard in the Sabi Sand region. Here, not only were we able to locate and come face to face with the big five but were also able to experience Africa in its vast, untouched glory that really impacts you; to dine at the buffet of nature’s offerings
All images and commentary by James Suter – Field Guide who is trekking across Singita reserves this year to document wildlife and their activities.