Today’s Wheel of Adventures has stopped at 2014, so here we go.

This is the last in a four part series about my recent African safari.

Part one introduced Camp Banoka and described what a typical game drive day was like, and showed a variety of some of the larger wildlife. Part two showed more of what camp life was like along with photos of the camp rangers and staff, and a look at some of the birdlife along with more about how game drives are done. Part three was all about a wetland camp where guests travel by boat and canoe for the game “drives”. This concluding part is about wildlife experiences with leopards, elephants, and giraffes

Baby elephants will run if approached too closely
Baby elephants will run if approached too closely
The leading matriarch mother elephant will smash trees to warn of her power
The leading matriarch mother elephant will smash trees to warn of her power
Hippo mother with her baby
Hippo mother with her baby
Small alligators are found in the reeds waiting for prey to be snapped up
Small alligators are found in the reeds waiting for prey to be snapped up
Female impala cast a wary eye at the game drive vehicles
Female impala cast a wary eye at the game drive vehicles

Camp Banoka was mostly dry forest with scattered swamp areas, Camp Xigera was almost all wetlands intermixed with open dry areas, many of which have tall palm trees. Camp Duma Tau is in a dry light forest next to a large river basin that attracts large numbers of animals. Since the forest is not very thick, and has a lessor number large trees, wildlife is easier to spot from the Land Rover trail roads. And there is a lot of open grassland between the forest edge and a major river with marsh areas. The result is that Duma Tau is highly favorable for viewing somewhat more creatures than the two previous camps – and we were not disappointed!

Impala have white belly hair to reflect ground heating
Impala have white belly hair to reflect ground heating
The male impala is one of the sleekest creatures in the forest
The male impala is one of the sleekest creatures in the forest
The African kudu is a very slender species of antelope
The African kudu is a very slender species of antelope
Baboons inhabit all areas of the Okavango Delta
Baboons inhabit all areas of the Okavango Delta

The first game drive was in the late afternoon during which plenty of elephants were sighted. In fact, sometimes the herds contained several dozen – a very impressive sight indeed. As dark settled in, word spread that a leopard had been spotted with a fairly fresh kill, so all three camp Land Rover groups arrived at the location to find a fully satiated male leopard almost passed out with full belly laying just inside a small thicket. What was interesting in this situation was that normal leopard kill practice is to carry the animal to the top of a large tree where it will be safe from marauding hyenas. This allows the leopard to descend anytime for ground roaming, then return to find the kill untouched.

Baboon babies ride underneath their mothers - hang on for dear life
Baboon babies ride underneath their mothers – hang on for dear life
Lechwe travel in large herds
Lechwe travel in large herds

 

Lechwe are marsh antelopes that prefer to stay in water for protection
Lechwe are marsh antelopes that prefer to stay in water for protection
A beautiful herd of zebra - they can be found in most open areas
A beautiful herd of zebra – they can be found in most open areas
Lechwe are marsh antelopes that prefer to stay in water for protection
Lechwe are marsh antelopes that prefer to stay in water for protection
A beautiful herd of zebra - they can be found in most open areas
A beautiful herd of zebra – they can be found in most open areas
Note how one zebra uses the back of another as a head rest
Note how one zebra uses the back of another as a head rest
A beautiful pair of giraffes - so graceful, buy weird looking on the run
A beautiful pair of giraffes – so graceful, buy weird looking on the run

 

The giraffe is certainly the most unique of land mammals
The giraffe is certainly the most unique of land mammals
A giraffe shares a pasture with an elephant
A giraffe shares a pasture with an elephant
This antelope was dinner for a male leopard
This antelope was dinner for a male leopard
This leopard hid his kill in a thicket rather than a tree as is their custom
This leopard hid his kill in a thicket rather than a tree as is their custom
Rangers use a red spotlight to view animals at night - it does not bother them
Rangers use a red spotlight to view animals at night – it does not bother them
The leopard guards his hidden kill from thieving hyenas and vultures
The leopard guards his hidden kill from thieving hyenas and vultures
This male leopard allowed Land Rovers and humans to come within 10'
This male leopard allowed Land Rovers and humans to come within 10′
A leopard on the prowl for a kill - leopards lead solitary lives alone
A leopard on the prowl for a kill – leopards lead solitary lives alone
One could walk up to within 2' of a leopard in the grass and never see it
One could walk up to within 2′ of a leopard in the grass and never see it
A female leopard resting in the shade while her cub is hidden in a hollow log
A female leopard resting in the shade while her cub is hidden in a hollow log
The female leopard casually walks beside the Land Rover, ignoring it
The female leopard casually walks beside the Land Rover, ignoring it
Amazing how close one can approach a leopard - but only in a vehicle!
Amazing how close one can approach a leopard – but only in a vehicle!
White faced ducks are seen in every marsh
White faced ducks are seen in every marsh
The ground hornbill is easy to find with it's bright red breast pouch
The ground hornbill is easy to find with it’s bright red breast pouch
This little sand grouse is almost invisible in similar colored grass
This little sand grouse is almost invisible in similar colored grass
Southern yellow hornbills are a bit menacing looking
Southern yellow hornbills are a bit menacing looking
The grey go-away birds make a loud fuss whenever predators are near
The grey go-away birds make a loud fuss whenever predators are near
The elusive ostrich never allows anyone to get too close
The elusive ostrich never allows anyone to get too close

 

But this particular leopard was in an area with few large trees, so the kill was hidden as best as possible. This had some advantage in that hyenas search by sight rather than scent, so a hidden ground kill would be practical. Additionally, vultures sit in trees to watch for carcasses, but with no suitable trees, there were no vultures nearby. We returned at dawn the next morning to see that the killed antelope, a bit bigger than the leopard, was still safe and the leopard still snoozing. But after two more Land Rovers arrived, the leopard gave us a glare (why don’t you guys let me sleep in today), then slowly walked around the grassy plain, finally settling down almost out of sight in the grass only a few yards away from us. Leopards do not chase anything, they just lay hidden in the grass then jump any unwary prey that happens by.

Lilac breasted rollers have such a rainbow of colors
Lilac breasted rollers have such a rainbow of colors
This black heron is doing feather maintenance
This black heron is doing feather maintenance
Reed cormorants inhabit almost every marsh looking for fish
Reed cormorants inhabit almost every marsh looking for fish
The red hornbill is fearless and will steal food anywhere anytime
The red hornbill is fearless and will steal food anywhere anytime
Camp Duma Tau has a perfectly elegant and styled central gathering space
Camp Duma Tau has a perfectly elegant and styled central gathering space
The rooms are open-air but can be closed with canvas walls in rough weather
The rooms are open-air but can be closed with canvas walls in rough weather

Our ranger suspected that a female leopard with a cub might be found a few miles distant, so off we go. Staying on the sandy trail, leopard tracks were soon found. When the tracks left the trail, our ranger just drove off-road crunching thru the light brush and over small trees, all the while keeping the tracks in sight. Sure enough, we caught up to the lactating female leopard walking along at an easy pace. We drove a parallel path along side her until she stopped in a shady spot to call out to her cub, which was hidden in a hollow log. Oh my, such a treat to see this tiny little cub meekly appear and join it’s mother.

Hard to believe this is open-air dining surrounded by night wildlife
Hard to believe this is open-air dining surrounded by night wildlife

 

These folks are watching a leopard just a few yards distant that ignores them
These folks are watching a leopard just a few yards distant that ignores them
Elephants will block the road when they don't want you near their babies
Elephants will block the road when they don’t want you near their babies
Duma Tau sunsets are ever so colorful every night at the cocktail hour
Duma Tau sunsets are ever so colorful every night at the cocktail hour

For two days we spent hours roving about various kinds of terrain, all filled with such a variety of wildlife, both animal and bird. So many elephants were seen almost to the point of becoming too common to seek any more. We had to be careful not surprise any herds with babies. At one point it was a bit scary, several charged in our direction kicking up dust and smashing trees to warn us to stay back, even blocking the road for a while. So many kinds of birds, hippos in every pond, giraffes gliding gracefully, heads above the low forest – a sight like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Certainly not an Animal Kingdom nor any grand zoo, but wonderful creatures in their own lands. Bucket list…safari now checked off!

 

 

Bob Gurr

 

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Bob Gurr is a true Disney legend who was hired on to design the Autopia for Disneyland. Over nearly four decades, Bob would become famous for developing the Monorails, Submarines, Flying Saucers, antique cars and double-decker buses of Main Street, Ford Motor Company's Magic Skyway (at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair), Omnimover ride system, Matterhorn and lots more. It has been said that if it moves, Bob probably played a part. Upon leaving Imagineering in 1981, Bob worked on a number of "leisure-time spectaculars" and "fantastical beasts" for parks and developments all over the world. Most notably, he created King Kong and Conan's Serpent for Universal Studios Hollywood, A UFO for the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, and the memorable T-Rex figure featured in Steven Spielberg's motion picture "Jurassic Park." You can find Bob's column, Design: Those Were The Times, right here on MiceChat. Though don't pin Bob down to a schedule, he's busy being "retired."
  • Thank you for taking us along on your wild adventures Bob. Can’t wait to see where you are taking us next.

    • Bob Gurr

      Stay tuned – we go to Burning Man, then do a family cruise on the biggest ship in the sea, way bigger than the Disney Fantasy.

      • Burning Man?! Wow. That should be interesting. And looking forward to that big ship. 🙂

  • wmatzner

    Bob:
    Of the four parts of this safari, did you find one section more intriguing than the rest?
    Which one was more amenable to taking pictures, or were equally good?

    • Bob Gurr

      All camps were different, but equal as to what one was able to view.