Written by: Sharon Gilbert-Rivett
Not all game drives yield the kind of exciting wildlife action that safari-goers yearn for. More often than not, animal activity is more subdued and sometimes it’s worth switching off the engine at a sighting, sitting back and watching what happens. When you do this, you can often see endearing and interesting behaviour that you may have missed in the search for something more dramatic.
This charming video of a female elephant and her young calf was captured at Umlani Bushcamp in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve and shows the elephant digging for tubers close to the safari vehicle at the side of a road. The cow is calm and completely ignores the vehicle before beginning to dig.
“We saw so much stuff we never expected to see, just by stopping and spending some time watching animals interact with one another,” says Umlani guest Stacey Rappaport from the USA. “The elephants were truly amazing. And so interesting to watch.”
Also at Umlani, this video footage of a young hyena “washing” its face at a waterhole also highlights lovely natural behaviour seen at close quarters on a game drive.
“The hyena were not afraid of us at all,” says Brazilian guest Leticia Busa. “We watched them for half an hour or so as they went about their business, lazing and cooling off in the water. It was a privilege to see them so relaxed,” she adds. “I grew to love hyena by watching them like this. They are rather cute.”
Umlani Bushcamp is one of two Fair Trade Tourism certified safari lodges in the Timbavati – the other is Motswari, where this footage of a young female leopard and her prize – a dead quelea – was taken.
“We found the leopard on a morning drive,” explains guest June Rivett. “Our guide turned off the engine and we sat and watched for almost an hour as she played with the quelea, and finally stretched out on the branch and slept.”
Fair Trade Tourism has certified safari lodges throughout South Africa – !Xaus Lodge in the Kalagadi, Camp Figtree and Safari Lodge at Amakhala in the Eastern Cape, Kololo Game Reserve in the Waterberg, Kwalata in Dinokeng, Madi a Thava Mountain Lodge, Leshiba Wilderness and Mashovela Lodge in the Soutpansberg region of Limpopo, Pakamisa and Three Trees in KwaZulu-Natal and Sabi Sabi in the Sabi Sand. For more information on these lodges and other Fair Trade Tourism certified businesses, visit www.fairtrade.travel.