|Posted on March 10, 2007 at 11:42 AM|
Seeing all of the magnificent seven in one day is something that doesn’t happen often. For those who don’t know what they are, it is the cheetah, wild dog and the ‘big five’ (Elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopards). I have been “out there” basically every day for the last four years – once in the morning and again in the afternoon on game drives, so I have been lucky enough to seen the ‘big five’ or a combination of the seven a few times, but never all at once. This particular day was nice and sunny, but not too hot. I decided it was a perfect day to search for the parks elusive buffalo. I found them and left a while later feeling happy with our close and uncommon sighting. I wouldn’t usually travel on the particular road I was on, but my guests were due to be staying at the lodge for the next few days, so I didn’t feel pressured to stay in the busier section of the park. We stopped along the way for the little things that would usually go unnoticed, until we came across a fresh mud rubbing on a tree. After explaining to them that it was from an elephant, we continued on while searching for other signs. With what seemed like perfect timing we found the herd around the next corner. They were browsing happily, and we were the only ones around to enjoy them. I waited for another guide to take over the sighting before moving on, and to my surprise heard another guide calling in a cheetah further along the road. I was sure we weren’t going to make it in time, because they aren’t really known for sticking around for very long. To my dismay it disappeared just before we got there. I stopped the cruiser and decided that it would be worth our while to have a look. Just before we were about to give up, it materialised behind a bush. It moved stealthily through the long grass, and eventually moved off into a thicket further away from the road. It was truly a fantastic start to the day, and we make a decision to stop for coffee. We only had about an hour left of our game drive, so I decided to make our way to the centre of the park for our stop.
Just before we pulled into the hide, another guide called in lions not too far away from where we were. I gave my guests the choice of either going to the lions, or having coffee, as we probably wouldn’t have time for both. Obviously the chose the lions, which made me happy; as they are my absolute favourite animal. The lions were eating maybe three warthogs, which was probably killed the night before. The other guides had already been there for quite a while, and left me in charge while they went for their coffee stop. We stayed with them for a few minutes before the lions got up and moved off. I was explaining something about lions to my guests when I suddenly noticed something black moving by the kill. I grabbed my binoculars and saw the round black ears of a family of wild dogs. I quickly called the other guides back to the sighting. We were in a fairly open area, so we could see a small group of white rhino in the distance. I called myself out of the sighting, with my plan being that we would slowly head back to the lodge while bypassing the rhinos. Suddenly one of the guides called me, saying I should come back because they’ve just spotted a leopard. I quickly turned around, and was just in time to see it crossing the road in full view for my guests. So besides the fact that we had somehow managed to see all seven in one day, which none of the other guides did, we also had travelled on a route that usually is quiet. The best part of my job is that I never know what we will find that day. Even if it is a quiet drive, you never know what’s around the next corner, and that’s why I love it.