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 Post subject: chirinda-A 'WOW' night drive
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 1:47 pm 
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Not so much a trip report as the tale of the amazing sightings (plural) on one night drive.

Sunday evening 6 June four of us were on the sunset drive out of Crocodile Bridge with ranger City. No sooner had we driven out of CB and turned right on the no entry road than we saw two bakkies parked up ahead. It was the CB senior ranger and his wife and another couple, and what we saw was so interesting.

The other couple had been horse riding on a nearby farm earlier that afternoon and had found an aardvark caught in a snare. The lady, being a vet, had anaesthetized him and they were able to release him from the snare and check him over. His muzzle was cut all the way round as well as the back of his neck and his left foreleg. She cleaned and treated the wounds and decided that although the wound on his muzzle was deep it didn’t seem to have cut vital blood vessels, and his tongue lapped water when he was given a little, so she bandaged his muzzle wound and hoped that if he lasted that night he would be able to make a full recovery.

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When we saw him he was coming round from the anaesthetic and was still very wobbly on his legs, but he was a large, strong animal, and was doing his best to escape from his rescuers. He kept tumbling over, not yet being in full control of his legs, but I wasn’t quick enough to photograph him before he got up each time.

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Check the size of his hind claws in this next pic. His front claws are even longer and equally strong. Antbears must be the estate agents of the bush, as they dig holes which are used as homes by many other animals.

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I never did find out whether he had been seen again and whether he survived.

What a WOW sighting! As the man said, “This is something you won’t see again,” and I don’t expect I will ever again see an aardvark with a bandaged nose.


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 Post subject: Re: A 'WOW' night drive
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:20 pm 
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Thanks so much, folks, for your comments and all your interest.

He does rather look Winnie the Pooh-ish, and cute, but not so little, his back was almost the height of the ranger's knees and you can see how stocky he is.

It was indeed fortunate that he met the vet. The couple saw what they thought was a rock and went to investigate, I think they were looking for rocks for a rockery or something.

Micetta, you are right. It has been very many years since I last saw one. I was about 10 and was being taken home one evening from boarding school because I was sick. We saw him in the lights of the car, on a rural dirt road in a farming area in eastern Zimbabwe. There was a lot more wildlife on farms then than now, and I still treasure that memory.


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 Post subject: Re: A 'WOW' night drive
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:35 pm 
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Continuing the night drive after our amazing aardvark ...

We drove on, our sightings including a rhino, three ellies, then four more rhino as it was starting to get dark. Also some zebra and wildebeest. We came across a black backed jackal out hunting. He was limping but very intent on searching for his supper.

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By this time the spotlights were on and suddenly Dalette said “Stop, …eyes”. We looked to the left and City manoeuvred the vehicle until the eyes were visible again. We looked carefully and saw a spotted coat which City thought belonged to a serval. I looked again and was sure it was a leopard. We all watched as she showed herself a bit more, a beautiful leopard. She was behind a tussock of grass, and was eating something. At one point she had what looked like feathers sticking out of her mouth. While we watched her, we heard lions roaring to the east of where we were.

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Our leopard, having finished her meal, walked towards the road and we had better views of her although she was a bit far for good photography in the spotlights. City told us that she was young, he thought less than a year old. I took several pics but with little success.

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She wallked onto the road, along ahead of us for a short distance and then went off to our right, in the direction that the lion calls had come from.

By now even City was saying WOW, along with the rest of us.


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 Post subject: Re: A 'WOW' night drive
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:05 pm 
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Discussing the aardvark and pangolins, City suddenly stopped, reversed and showed us … a pangolin. :clap: :dance: :dance: It was a much smaller creature than the aardvark and partly hidden in the grass. We watched it for a while although it was difficult to see, until it went behind a bush and we drove on.

We turned along a road where City thought the lions were, but although he said he could smell their kill, we didn’t see them. What we did see was a whole herd of impala eyes in the spotlights, seeming for all the world like the lights of a city. :D

We told City about the saddlebill and Kori bustard we had seen the previous day and elicited another WOW from him.

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Someone commented on the sudden chill in the air as we were driving and he told us that this happens when you move into an area with a different vegetation type.

There were eyes again to the left – two porcupines, :dance: :dance: but being the shy creatures they are, they didn’t stick around and we had just a glimpse of them. Several times during the drive we had a scrub hare ahead of us in the road, not realising that if he were to hop to the side we would not follow him. One of them kept going for a long while, thwarting all efforts for us to slip past him. Then a small spotted genet did the same thing, but at the same time giving us a good view of his tail end.

I found it rather odd to see stuff like zebra, giraffe and kudu at night, being used to only seeing them in daylight. You wonder whether spotlights on them would assist a predator were he watching. A bushbaby’s moving red eyes surprised us as he jumped from one tree to the next, very agile in the dark.

Suddenly City stopped again, reversed, and asked for the spotlight to be shone on the bush to our right. We looked and looked, then he pointed out a small green chameleon, asleep, and looking just like one of the leaves. :dance: How he saw that I don’t know, but then he knows to look out for the things we don’t even think of.

We flushed a bird from the road ahead, a Mozambique nightjar, which also flew ahead for quite a way before veering off. We saw a few more, as well as a couple more genets, impala and wildebeeste.

Back on the S28 heading south, suddenly a crashing noise in the undergrowth – maybe it was a black rhino? One of those would have been good to see. A little further along and a civet crossed the road ahead of us. :dance: :dance: He didn’t stick around either, but we got a good view of him before he disappeared into the undergrowth.

Getting closer to CB two hippos out of the water, lots more impala and then, quite near the camp, an ellie standing in the road browsing from a bush. He didn’t seem to mind our lights nor that we passed quite close to him.

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So we came to the end of the most amazing night drive I have ever been on. It started with a high, and carried on giving us the most wonderful sightings – aardvark, leopard, pangolin, porcupine, genet, civet……. Just WOW. Thank you, City, for a fantastic evening.


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 Post subject: Re: A 'WOW' night drive
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 9:39 pm 
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Folks, thanks again for your wonderful comments. It is great to be able to share our sightings with you. I feel truly blessed to have seen such a fine selection of rarities and all in the space of a few hours, and I am very sure it was 'once in a lifetime'. I had never seen a pangolin before and not sure if I'd seen a civet either in real life, only seen porcupines once, aardvark once.

Before we left home I had said I wanted to see dogs and Duke and when we got in the truck City asked, and that's what I told him. And although we saw neither, we actually saw stuff I would never have imagined we would. When we got home I walked in and said "Well we never saw dogs or Duke :( BUT we saw ...... :dance: :dance: ..." to great excitement by our friends who had stayed behind.

That leopard was just so beautiful and I'm glad that at least a couple of the pics came out.

Bless you all for sharing my joy.


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 Post subject: Re: A 'WOW' night drive
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 7:54 pm 
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When a friend of mine read this story she replied to me with the following sighting:

"I think I told you I saw an anteater going home from a prayer meeting or something in Salisbury - when I was a kid. It was in the veld where the library, music college etc are today - right in town. It was a LONG time ago ........"

That would have been late 1950s or early '60s and for those of you who know Harare, it is right in town. Presumably she and her family would have been going home from the prayer meeting, not the aardvark :lol: :lol:


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