Samburu National Game Reserve – Day 5-6 - Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Since we missed the leopard yesterday, our goal today was to spot one. Duncan’s plan was to try to reach the place we saw him yesterday where he had his kill in the tree. He was sure that the leopard wasn’t done eating. We beat two other vans to the site by a long shot, thanks to Duncan’s 17 years worth of knowledge of the back roads. The majestic leopard was lazily sprawled out on a tree in perfect view. He stared at us for a few minutes, looked toward the other approaching vans, and decided to go hide. At that point Duncan said that we wouldn’t see him for the rest of the day. When the leopard descended the tree, he ran into a striped hyena (very rare) scavenging for some scraps of his kill. The hyena spooked the wary leopard than the approaching vans had. He high tailed it up another tree, 30 ft from his kill to keep away from the hyena, and watch both his kill in the tree and the spectator vans. This was good for us, as he was in clear view. His coat was almost iridescent….so beautiful; his movements were extremely graceful. This rare sighting and hyena-action took up most of our morning game drive.

We also spotted some mama lions with three very young and tiny cubs. It seemed like every van within 50 miles had come to see the cubs. We hadn’t experienced this type of crowd and hope not to encounter so many folks again. We also captured two baby elephants at play—so cute! On the way back to the lodge, a very large male elephant had tore down a tree and was blocking the road while chowing down. Elephants are well-known to be quite destructive of the forest for no apparent reason. We made a bumpy off-road detour and D managed to cut his head on the roof. By the time we return home, Dave will have quite a few battle wounds from our travels to show off on his hair-free noggin!

On our afternoon game drive which lasted 2 ½ hours starting at 4pm, our only goal was to see the Grevy Zebra indigenous only to this area. We had to drive pretty far to the more arid side of the park where the lions don’t hang out and these zebra do. These Grevy zebra are very different than the common zebra which we saw a lot of in Amboseli. The common zebra are very social and travel in large packs, while the Grevy zebra is quite solitary and travels either alone or in groups less than five. The Grevy zebra’s mane is more hairy like a horse vs. spiky and his stripes are closer together coming to a “V” at his rump. We only saw ONE. Duncan was tuned in to his CB radio, but no one could find any. The one we saw was pretty far away. We could only see the obvious differences through the binoculars but not the camera.

On the way back to the lodge, we spotted a mama cheetah and her cubs…our first cheetah sighting. They are beautifully sleek animals similar to the leopard in coloring and are lithe. We expect to see more when we head south. Duncan parked at a great viewpoint where we were able to check out the lay of the land…We’ve been riding on rough dirt roads in the trees/bushes, so it was nice to get a good vista of this beautiful area.

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