We had a wonderful day in Addo yesterday a real cat day but it started a lot earlier than our 08.00 am arrival at the southern Colchester gate.
We let our dogs sleep inside, in the lounge during the cold winter months; a little hatch allows them free access.
It was about 3.45 am when all hell broke loose, dogs knocking dining chairs over, candle sticks falling to the floor and a clumping of heavy paws from Boellie our 70 Kg Boerboel in hot pursuit of something in the lounge, all of this with a decided lack of barking, curious.
I leapt out of bed in a single fluid movement, Huh! Buck naked opened the bedroom door slithering a hand over the smooth wall to find the light switch, finding this I noticed the mayhem, the focus of attention was a couch alongside the large glass doors opening onto the porch. All of a sudden a lithe spotted rocket of a small cat like creature climbed onto the back of the couch down onto the floor, onto the kitchen counter through another row of candle stick holders, onto the kitchen window sill, back down onto the floor near the ajar front door round the door to start the circuit again, all with the three dogs in tow like a spotted pied piper from another world. I yelled at Angelika to come quick to see the Large spotted Genet, her first. Out she came just in time to see the little fellow scuttle out of the porch glass door on to the veranda and away into the night. Pandemonium in its wake!!
Being close to 4 am in the morning we went back to bed in vain pursuit of a few more minutes of beauty sleep. Barely drifting off into a disguised state of torpid amnesia, the peace was again shaken by the alarm clock announcing it to be 5.30 am and time to get up and prepare for the morning in the Addo Elephant National Park.
A double dose of strong coffee and off to Summerstrand to pick up Roland our single guest for the day and off we went to Addo, Checking into the southern gate we started and quite a day it turned out to be. Slow to start with, herds of Zebra, Red Hartebeest, a long shot at a lone elephant bull amongst a few others sightings on a cold and heavily overcast day, spent mostly on the southern plains.
We left this area, heading up Ngulube loop in an effort to get a glimpse of a few large bulls I had seen there recently as well as a chance at seeing the female Lioness with her three cubs I have yet to spot.
It was towards the end of the loop that we spotted a female Caracal slowly sauntering down the road in hunting mode. We made a slow approach and she allowed us to get close enough for a beautiful sighting and some wonderful photo opportunities.
We left her after she moved off into the bush, catching an old Buffalo bull as he also moved off into the thickets.
Still relatively quiet on a breezy day when we were approaching the area where an Elephant bull had died in a fight with another in May last year when from the corner of my eye I spotted a large male Lion resting on the bush line of this open area. We stopped to take a good look, when I heard the rough cough of a Lion roar in the making, the rumbling cough that gains in volume and depth from each breath as this mighty warrior proclaims his presence to both friend and foe alike. We drove to within a few meters of this magnificent male as he turned up the volume of his deep baritone. So close one could see his eyelashes his deep in grained scares, testimony to the battles fought, won and lost for his right to feed and pass on his hard earned genes. We left the Lions as they made their way along the road meeting up again as we passed the lion jam (as opposed to traffic jam) of cars vying for the right to view these two show stoppers.
Words and photographs by Alan Fogarty
Returning via the same route as we had arrived on earlier, hoping to see the Lioness and her cubs we came to the end of the loop where a few cars had parked, where from behind, a large herd of Red Hartebeest were pronking, stotting, in English, a jocular prancing, like four legged pogo sticks springing across the grassy plains. A clear indication of the presence of a top predator.
We soon spotted the cryptic colours of three Cheetah under a large tree. Another herd of Zebra would cautiously approach the cats then turning on their heels they raced away dust clipping into the air, you could almost hear the prrrp, prrrp as air escaped their stomachs, only to stop again, ears pricked forward they would start towards the Cheetah with accentuated high steps to repeat the game again.
We made our way down the road to intersect the place where the team of three male cheetahs, vagabonds from their home some distance away, would cross the road once again giving us a wonderful view of these lithe, athletic predators as they left us to seek quiet solitude.