DAY 3 - at Nossob
The day begins with the earlybird group meeting at 6.45 at reception – the consensus is to try and catch up with the Bedinkt lions and see what they have been up to overnight. So a convoy of four vehicles heads 60km north in the semi-dark of another still Kalahari dawn.
About 2km north of Bedinkt we pick up fresh lion tracks.
At this stage, the heart starts beating faster, and you tend to hold your breath going around each bend, in case they are all there, sprawled around a kill.
Howard the leopard-chaser (see Day 1) has stopped ahead of us, and his bazooka-sized camera lens is already pointing into the dry riverbed.
At first in the semi-light, the rising sun reveals only dozens of jackals. Then in the shade of a thorn tree, the solid slabs of tawny fur take shape – it’s the Bedinkt pride, this time including two handsome males, all in a post-feeding slumber, distended bellies softly rising and falling.
They have caught a wildebeest, and lie in the middle of the dry riverbed, maybe 200m from the road. I count 27 jackals, either asleep, sitting watching or pacing in the background, waiting to collect the scraps, but there is little left of the wildebeest. We stop and have our coffee and breakfast, in the shade of a tree, keeping an eye on the lions.
Only the adolescent male (which I have named Spot), is still awake, gnawing away at the bones at the base of the tree trunk, joined later by two cubs.
Here Spot and 2 cubs focus on the remains – note the huge belly on the left
The jackals are wary and patient. The warm morning sun is too much for some of them, and about 14 jackals squeeze together in the narrow shade of a small bush nearby, and sleep, quite amicably.
Eventually only Spot is left at the kill, his family has moved out further into the shade - the jackals advance..
Spot gives up and joins the others, the jackals move in
But they are intimidated by the pride male, which moves in and out of the shade.
Finally, one jackal makes a move, and snatches the wildebeest’s backbone (?)
A tussle develops for possession
All the snarling and yapping arouses Spot’s interest, and he rises to retake possession of what remains, sending the jackals into a panicky retreat (there are 14 jackals in this picture)
Spot is now deliberately sitting on top of the wildebeest remains, occasionally rolling over with the skull and horns held fast in his paws, as if to challenge the jackals to try their luck.
Before we know it, its 11am. Eventually the males head off to find a bigger patch of shade.
We head back to camp, where some birds join us on the patio, hoping to pick up some lunch crumbs.
I am hopeless with bird (feathered) identification. I have to turn to Roberts’ (bird book) to identify even the most common varieties, so would welcome some assistance, like now…
crimson breasted shrike
yellow billed hornbill
At 330pm we head south on Marie se Draai, a road that loops off from the main south road, and follows the dry riverbed. At Marie se Gat waterhole, there’s a wide open plain across to the tall dunes on the other side. This area has always produced good sightings.
There are a few gemsbok and a 3 scraggly ostriches. Then a few springbok come up from the south. They seem really cautious, and then start a frantic dash over the last few hundred metres to the waterhole. Then they look back, skittish. Something must be lying in the thick grass. We scan with the binocs, but pick up nothing.
Start a slow drive home, looking for the furtive little bat-eared foxes, and 1km before the main road, we are rewarded.
this day is over
we feast on a superb chicken curry, served with papadums, and good red wine – its important to maintain standards in the bush.
Sitting out on the patio overlooking camp, another warm, dead-calm evening.
As darkness falls, the first shouts and curses emerge from the campers below, as the camp jackals launch their opening dusk raids. A shrill female camper screeches into the night “daars ‘n jakkals in die kombuis” (there’s a jackal in the kitchen), followed by thumps and squeals as hubby responds….
Three days of lions and so much more. Can it get better than this? Download the day’s photos and then tumble into bed at 8pm. Dreaming of ….well, lions of course.