Gustafson Photo Safari in Tanzania – Day 4

Gustafson Photo Safari in Tanzania – Day 4

Mar 28, 2013| by administrator

By Todd Gustafson

This morning’s plan was to first find the mating lions’ pride (the one with all the females and cubs), then go see if the leopard was active, and finally finish up with the cheetahs.  It seems there was a group of campers last night who got lost and set up camp right where the lions have been mating. In the middle of the night they were surrounded by 10 lions. They did a QUICK pack up and went to the Ranger’s Post and spent the night there. Not only did the campers leave the area, but so did the lion pride, so we came up empty this morning.

We split up so two drivers went to find the leopard with cubs and two drivers went to the plains to find the cheetahs. The Makau plains cover a huge area and it was difficult to find the cheetahs. When we found them, the family of five had another Tommy kill. The situation was even better than yesterday. Soft, clouded light allowed us to change positions often, and with only three vehicles on the scene, it was easy to find great openings as they fed, yawned, stretched, played, and groomed. Purple and white flowers and soft green grass made a nice backdrop for the set. After eating, they walked a kilometer to the huge lone Acacia tree for some shade and a climb. It’s amazing to see these huge cats climb the sheer face of this 80-foot tree.

Tree-climbing cat

Those who went to see if the leopard would bring out her cubs were rewarded with an amazing show. She picked them up in her mouth and moved them from the bushes to a new tree. I can only dream of this once in a lifetime opportunity! The photos are terrific. 

Our afternoon was spent on the Makau plains with five different cheetahs. It was the same family from last year when the cubs were 3 weeks old. These guys were wandering around looking for something to hunt. The young male cub was the leader as they approached a black-dirt clearing that turned out to be black mud. The poor cat sunk to his knees and struggled to get out while the rest went around. After that, he limped around trying to get the mud from between his toes. He will forever be known as Black Socks. 

Day 4 Black Socks

They were still on the hunt and climbed on fallen logs for a look around. They surprised a caracal (a new sight for me) that dove into a hole in the ground. All of Black Socks’ limping around disappeared when they flushed a steenbok. He put on the afterburners and literally flew after the tiny antelope. It was an unsuccessful chase but was great to see and photograph. The cheetah tally is up to 13!

There’s always action while on a safari! Here a Golden Jackal defends a kill from a Griffin Vulture.

Jackal and Vulture

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