January 20, 2012

CAMP DIARIES: HYENA WONDERINGS – MAKULEKE, KRUGER NATIONAL PARK – 20 JANUARY 2012



News from our Makuleke wilderness camp in the north of the Kruger National Park: While out on an afternoon activity, instructor Mark Gunn and a group of 55 day FGASA Level One students saw evidence of a hyena making its way through the veld with what appeared to be part of a carcass. Mark tells more:

“We had tracked the hyena drag marks yesterday until the trail went into thick bush. We then back tracked it until failing light forced us to call the search off.

This morning we went back to continue the quest for the origin of the trail. On our way we heard elephants trumpeting so we diverted to try and do an approach. The fact that they were trumpeting showed that they were excited so we had to be very cautious. Despite our attempt we did not get near the elephants but did see jackal, impala, wildebeest, baboon and eland. We were moving so cautiously that the elephants outdistanced us.



We returned to our original mission and tried to follow the drag marks to their source. Each student took it in turn to do the actual trailing with the rest giving guidance. Thick areas of bush were negotiated very slowly with me going ahead to check and then calling the others through.

The trail lead back across the road and off toward the basalt ridges to the west of the camp. We had just swopped trackers and Severo had taken a few paces when he and I saw a breeding herd of elephants moving across our front at a range of 60-80 meters. We crouched down and watched them move through the Mopani scrub. We gave them some time to move off and for any stragglers to pass. We then continued on our line.

After four hours on the trail some of the group were feeling the heat and exertion. The end felt tantalizingly close but we had to let the weakest and slowest set the pace so we turned for home. On the way back we had our third encounter with eland and saw two groups of zebra.” 

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