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Finally Some Decent Sightings


Published: June 17th 2017

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01 On the Lookout01 On the Lookout01 On the Lookout

A dead tree full of vultures looking out for breakfast.

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This morning we went for a game drive to Shumba Picnic Site. Along the way we saw a tree with many vultures in it and an elephant having a dust bath. At Shumba Dam there was quite a bit of water, but no animals drinking. There was a dead tree by the dam that was full of vultures. We assumed that their presence meant that there must be a dead animal about.

In the middle of the dam there was a hippo that was covered in mud. There were also many vultures on the ground. Then we saw the reason for their presence. A dead elephant had been recently cut in half by the park rangers. This would have not been an easy task! It had been cut up to help the animals eat it. One half was placed on each side of the dam. As we drove closer, the vultures flew off the carcass, but the Yellow Billed Kite stayed on and ate.

There wasn’t much else animal activity here, so we slowly drove back to Masuma Dam. Just before arriving back we saw a herd of 5 dagga boys and a herd of impalas that were walking

02 Skinny02 Skinny02 Skinny

A skinny looking elephant.

towards the direction of Masuma Dam. When we got back we went straight to the hide and hoped that we had not missed all the action by going for a morning game drive.

From the hide we could see a herd of buffaloes and a huge flock of guinea fowl drinking. The impalas had now also arrived at the waterhole. As I looked around the area with the binoculars I noticed many animal bones. After the buffaloes drank they had a little splash in the water. This morning the hippo was just visible with part of its back out of the water.

For the next hour and a half I sat in the hide. I watched a troop of baboons that came to drink and forage for food. Baboons are quite entertaining to watch, especially these ones as they had young ones. A couple of warthogs also arrived to drink water. The buffaloes then left and walked away in a line.

Walking one behind the other, a flock of guinea fowl walked along the water’s edge to the other side and then stopped to drink. A small herd of cautious impalas also arrived to drink as well as a single

03 Vultures at the Pan03 Vultures at the Pan03 Vultures at the Pan

Lots of vultures at Shumba Pan.

waterbuck. Then looking around I noticed that in the middle of the dam on a little island there was a crocodile. It was sitting there, covered in mud with its mouth open. The bush is like that, one minute nothing there, and the minute later animals arrive or emerge from the water. This makes it such an interesting and exciting place.

Then one of my favourite animals appeared, a small breeding herd of elephants. They went straight to the water’s edge, drank water and splashed a bit of water over themselves. They were not bothered by the crocodile&’s presence.

Yesterday afternoon this waterhole was full of elephants and this morning there is every animal and only 4 elephants. A couple of female kudus, a waterbuck and an impala also came for a drink. The elephants were now starting to walk away. I thought it was also a good time for me to walk away for a little while too.

Over the next few hours we had lunch, showered and rested. There isn&’t as much animal activity during the heat of the day, so this was a good time not to be at the hide. This camp site has an attendant and he

04 White Backed Vultures04 White Backed Vultures04 White Backed Vultures

A flock of White Backed Vultures at the side of the pan.

is responsible for the facilities. Even though we were in the middle of a large national park in Zimbabwe, we still had a flushing toilet and hot water. There was a donkey boiler and the water heated up due to the fire he maintained. So it was nice to have a warm shower, I felt like I was covered in a thick layer of dust.

Somehow Paul and Neil managed to score us another night&’s stay at the Masuma Dam picnic site. Once again, this location was much better than the one that we had booked. This saved us from packing up and then setting up again. The camp sites were huge, so we were not intruding on anyone&’s space.

We went back to the hide at about 3pm. There were a few elephants about. One of the elephants was throwing muddy water over its back. In the distance a herd of buffaloes came down and thirstily drank. Unexpectedly, the hippo emerged from the middle of the dam, widely opened its mouth, made a bit of a splash, snapped its mouth shut and then submerged itself again. The other animals were not at all startled by this.

A couple of zebras arrived as

05 Hippo05 Hippo05 Hippo

A hippo in the middle of Shumba Pan.

well as another herd of buffaloes and a waterbuck and her calf. At about half past five, the herds of elephants began to arrive. Even though we saw this sight yesterday, it was still amazing to see them quicken their pace, even run as they got closer to the water. Younger elephants would move away from the trough when the older ones approached. More buffaloes and waterbuck arrived. By sunset the waterhole seemed much emptier than earlier today. Once again, it was a beautiful sunset, with a very pink sky.

All throughout the night we could hear elephants at the waterhole, as they made a deep, rumbling sound.


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