Hennie van Heerden's Wildlife Diary

November 14, 2010

Last day at Mashatu

Filed under: 2010,November — Hennie van Heerden @ 4:54 pm

After the first glimpse of the baby Aardwolf on the very first day I was in Mashatu, I kind of forced Elvis and Morgan to pass the den-site every single day at least 4 times but no luck in seeing it again. Of course, the guys told me that normally they would see the adult female quite often.. Yeah thanks, that helps a lot! 🙂
We arrived at the den-site first thing in the morning but not a sign of the cute pink ears. I wanted the shot really badly because I had never, in all of my years of travelling in Africa, had seen an Aardwolf before. And the idea of getting a shot of a baby was absolutely thrilling! So, we decided to stay around a little bit to see what would happen . Behind us, other vehicles arrived, had a look at the empty hole and moved on. And then…. The two adorable pink ears peeped out of the hole!! I started shooting right away and continued even when other cars arrived (in the shot to the left the baby looks inquisitively to those strange creatures in that metal box..) and after having a short look moved on again, no doubt on the look-out for more impressive animals.. (I was sooo happy that I wasn’t in one of those cars!)
Even mom showed herself for a split second but she didn’t really come out of the den. But I was already totally happy.. I posted another shot of this cutie earlier on Flickr

After a while the baby Aardwolf decided that it had been enough for the day and went inside the den and didn’t show herself anymore, so we moved on. To me, this day was already special! But only a little bit further we discovered a Jackal den and much to my surprise, two babies were playing and frolicking outside of it. This seemed to be a real ‘baby-day!’

On one of the first days at Mashatu, we had discovered a riverbank where White-Fronted Bee-Eaters had made their nests. The beautiful birds flew around catching insects, and just before they would enter their nests with the food for the chicks they would make a stop in a tree high up the bank.
I had spent some time there when a leopard find came in through the radio. Of course we went of to find it, as leopards are not very common at Mashatu (although I’ve seen 4 different ones during my 1 week stay there). But Elvis knew that I really wanted to get back to that tree and when he stopped for coffee I recognized the Bee-Eater location. He only smiled and said “Did you think I had forgotten?”. Sweet guy.
I really took my time here and when I returned to the vehicle I found Elvis and Morgan sound asleep :-).  

I realize that I have been very fortunate having a car just to myself, and Elvis and Morgan as my two hosts. We had great discussions about the Men/Mars and Women/Venus principle 🙂
When I had sent a text home to Hans, raving on about how fantastic the trip so far was, I was a bit disappointed when the man only answered “OK, nice”.. But Elvis and Morgan totally understood.  Because what was there to say further!! They claimed that I should call myself veeery lucky indeed that the man replied at all! After all he didn’t hàve to! Guess the planets are the same all over the world 🙂

As we went on, something happened that disturbed my cheerful mood enormously. We discovered a tiny little lion high up a slope.. It was alone, looked exhausted and heartbreakingly skinny. It was an 8 months old cub, abandoned by its mother (see post two days ago) and too young to catch prey for itself. By the looks of it, it was near dead. Botswana law does not allow to intervene in such cases but it sure broke my heart to see it in such sorry state..

The very last gamedrive in Mashatu brought one more suprise: African Wild Cat! They are all around but you rarely see them.  I remember last year I caught a glimpse of his European cousin, the European Wildcat. I wonder if there is an Asian and maybe even Australian version as well 🙂

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