Lion tracks and a big Hippo

Saturday, 28 June 2014
On another day while we were staying at Selinda Camp (in Botswana), we had a perfect morning on the water. We left at 6am from camp and took a boat to the camp's boat launch at another site. The clouds reflected on the water and all around us the light was dim enough for the water to look like a smoky mirror, perfectly reflecting the clouds. We we made it to the jetty and loaded into the truck, our guide noticed fresh lion tracks. I photographed one to show the size perspective as compared to a human female adult's hand.

The tracks were from an adult female lion. (I'm wearing gloves in the photo because around 6:30am in Botswana in June, it is in the 40s).

Before we even left on our game drive, we had quite the excitement. Our guide collected us from our tent and then we gathered James' parents from their tent. At 6am, it is dark and Grant led the way to the breakfast fire where coffee was waiting (thank goodness). Before we made the last turn to the main lodge, Grant stopped us and said in an unconcerned voice, "Hey guys. Just stop here and slowly back up to that large tree there. There's a hippo in the path and it would be great if you could wait behind the tree." I was right behind Grant on the path. He shined his flashlight on the huge beast and I couldn't believe my eyes. Hippos are enormously round. Who knows how their seemingly small legs hold them up. Maybe that's why they spend most of the day in the water. Their skin doesn't do too well in the sun either so they usually feed at night. 

We backed up behind the tree as instructed and Grant moved ahead with his flashlight on high beam, shining it back and forth across the path while clapping and talking loudly to the hippo. She looked at him, had another bite of tasty tall grass and slowly moved away. Grant called us to come on and we moved quickly, without a word.

On the day of this encounter, in my journal, I wrote that game drives can be fairly boring. It's true. You can drive for hours while only seeing a few birds and impala. That's the joy of safari, however. Around the next corner, life is different! While driving on this particular morning we saw another hippo out of water and some wildebeest. We were almost nodding off in the vehicle when our guide suddenly noticed two male lions walking in tall grass. They were following a pride of lionesses, attempting to catch their scent and possibly even mate. 

Most of the lionesses were having none of it because there were a few cubs in the pride. Male lions often try to kill cubs to eliminate competition in the wild for food. These two moved a bit slowly because one seemed to have a sore elbow but they pursued the ladies for a couple of hours. Then, it was nap time. 

I captured some video of the beautiful boys and put together a short video using a Sony NEX-5 and iMovie.

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