30 Minutes at Home: A Lioness, a Python and a Leopard!
With Kruger opening a couple of weeks ago, I have spent less time at home, and much more time in the park. The sightings have been off the charts. I have seen lion cubs, wild dogs at sunset, a leopard in the road, lions in the road, an African wild cat, and lions on a giraffe kill. The list goes on and on… It feels good to be back.
And with living right at Crocodile Bridge, it's an absolute breeze to just pop in for a drive whenever I feel like it, but on weekends I take a break, because pre-booking is usually full, and it’s nice to spend some time at home.
So, today that’s exactly what I did. I woke up at my leisure, went for my morning run, and then headed to the deck for tea with Gram.
We were chatting away, when I caught sight of a beautiful lioness coming from around the river bend. She was alone, and moving at quite a speed. We had a lovely sighting of her, and then she disappeared in to the reeds in front of us, but on the opposite riverbank.
A bushbuck ewe bolted out of the reeds, the lioness had obviously startled her, and she ran all the way to just above Crocodile Bridge.
I wondered if this was the same lioness that had been spotted at our fence a few nights ago, by one of the Crocodile Bridge gate guards who was doing the night shift.
A little while passed, and she came out and lay in the winter sunshine. She seemed nervous, and could definitely see us. Perhaps we were making her nervous? We wondered why she was alone. Did she have cubs?
She was very interested in the wildebeest that were grazing just a little ways from her, but she didn’t make a move.
Grammy then turned to me and said, “What’s that down there in front of us, is that a big snake?”
I took a look through the binos, which I didn’t actually need because the snake was enormous, and to my shock and my delight, realised it was a python!
Grammy and Gramps have seen pythons here many times, and the gate guards have told me that they see them, and even my friends have seen one after leaving our house one night after a braai, but this was a first for me!
It slithered along slowly, not taking too much notice of the frantic blacksmith lapwing that was alarm calling, and standing right next to it! I couldn’t believe how brave it was, it must’ve been trying to protect its eggs.
While all of this was going on, the monkeys started alarm calling like crazy in front of the Croc Bridge Staff village, and I could see some of the staff come out to see what all the fuss was about. Some cars also heard the commotion, and stopped to see if they could catch sight of what had the bush mafia in a flat spin.
The python and the lioness had now both disappeared in to the reeds (in two separate areas of the river), so Gram and I took a walk down to the corner of our property, just above the bridge.
On the way I said to her, “well, it’s one of two things. Either it’s the lionesses pride on their way to join her, or it’s our resident leopard”. But, if it had been the lionesses’ pride, she wouldn’t have disappeared very quickly in to the reeds and in the opposite direction.
We waited around for a while, scanning the thick bush below the Croc Bridge Staff Village, and after a while headed back. About halfway back to the house, the monkeys alarm calls became even more intense, and as I turned around, I caught sight of our resident leopard crossing the road just above the bridge (on the opposite side to us).
I can now confirm that we definitely have a resident leopard!;) A most exciting prospect! He was frightened (probably of the staff in the village and of the traffic), and was running at quite a speed, but I managed to catch a quick video of him.
I took my eyes off him for just a second, and lost him. I made my way back to the deck, to look from there, but our elusive resident remained hidden.
I was thrilled nonetheless, what a splendid 30 minutes it had been.
As golden hour approached, a breeding herd of ellies strolled past, with the sweetest little ones, and a few dagga buffalo boys lazed on the sandbanks down river, three magnificent kudu bulls waltzed along the top of the hill.
A go-away-bird (Grey loerie) called somewhere in the distance, the guinea fowls chattered, and as usual the hippos chuckled. An ellies belly rumbled, and I watched a stream of cars coming out of Kruger, line up on the other side of the bridge. The elephants must’ve been crossing the road, causing the traffic jam.
The warm African sun faded away, and the cool evening air crept in. The first star twinkled brightly, as the last smoky blue and pale pink skies disappeared from my sight.
I can only begin to imagine, what sort of scenes will unfold during the course of tonight in front of our home, but those scenes will remain a secret to us humans.
We may, (if we are lucky), hear some of the nightly bush choir sounds, and piece together what we think is unfolding…
But the promise of tomorrow, brings excitement to see what sort of visitors will stop by…