For episode 14 of #sofasafari we joined Brad, Trevor, our tracker, Steve, on camera, and Janine, on comms. It was a different start to the week as instead of guessing the animal tracks we played 'Guess the Animal Droppings' game! This is best viewed, so head over to the YouTube video to play along with this game!
Brad introduced us to the ‘Buck Poo Spitting Competition’ of which he currently has the championship belt! Trev told us that you’ve not experienced Africa properly until you’ve done this…
Both Brad and Trev took some droppings in their mouth and blew them as far as they could, Brad assured us that he was the champion of this game and would beat Trev in how far he could get the dung to fly. Trev had to admit defeat and Brad maintained his win! Please do not try this at home…only at Ulusaba!
These pictures don’t do the game justice, catch up on the episode here
As the team drove through the bush, they heard some oxpeckers - a bird you might remember from last week's episode. Trevor reminded is that it's the bush's natural warning system.
The team then drove through a dried-up riverbed and stopped to see some evidence of an elephant digging to find some clean, cool water. It's likely that they can smell the water and dig deep to find it - let's hope they managed to get some from the hole.
Has Tlangisa the leopard lost her cub?
We do know that she's alive as we hadn't seen her for over 3 weeks but Trev said he does suspect she may have lost her cub. They are holding out hope and will keep us updated.
We then switched over to Brandon, Ryan, our tracker, and Tom on camera. They had stopped next to a buffalo covered in mud who they affectionately called 'Old Mud Boy'. It's not unusual for buffalo to be alone especially when they get to a certain age.
In the near distance we could see a herd of hippos and a jacana bird wading in the shallows. This is a fascinating bird because of the dynamics at play here: a female will choose a suitable partner, mate with them and subsequently lay her eggs. She will then leave the nest entirely with the male who will be responsible for the chicks until they are of age.
Brandon showed us a buffalo with some red-billed oxpeckers along for the ride, eating the ticks off its skin. The birds do wait until the ticks are full up with the animal's blood then before they drop, then they eat them. It doesn't help the host animal per se, but it slows the population growth of ticks as they are eaten before they can lay eggs.
A thrilling chase: a young leopard pursued by hyenas
As we drove away, the Rangers came across a beautiful young male leopard who came so close to the vehicle. Ryan noted he was looking a little bit lean and that his leg had likely been broken at some point as the big cat walked with a limp. Of course, a hyena wasn't far behind and began to chase him!
We moved over to the other team who took over the tracking of the young leopard. The leopard moved cautiously through the bush which was bathed in a golden glow. By this point, it seemed that the hyenas were no longer tailing the leopard. The Rangers noted how relaxed the young leopard was as he sat at the river's edge observing the world around him, and yet again, very close to the vehicle. We followed the leopard for some time as explored his surroundings in the territory of an older, more dominant male.
Animals sighted this week:
A young male leopard
You can watch episode 14 of sofa safari here on our YouTube channel where the whole series is also saved.
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