November 7, 2013


There’s no such thing as luck, some would say. It’s rather a case of time and opportunity meeting at the right place.

Well, then this group of EcoTraining students currently on the trails guide part of their course was at just the right place, and at just the right time!

The time – Barely a week or so ago. The opportunity – Professional Field Guide course. The  place – Mashatu in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana.

And yes, this bunch of guys and girls have been extremely lucky.

Jomi Krobb tells the exciting tale, so sit back and enjoy!

“Brian Rhode and Chantelle Venter (EcoTraining freelance instructors) arrived in camp and immediately it was clear to us that these guys know the area exceptionally well. We have had some awesome sightings on foot and on night drives since they’ve been here.

Days like this - On the morning walk one group went into the thornveld area and had four elephant encounters, while the other group had two elephant encounters and identified a wild dog track. This was something very promising, as they have not been seen in this area of Tuli for quite some time.

On the afternoon walk we had an extremely close encounter with a breeding herd of elephant numbering about 20, with some very young individuals. They had us scrambling down the river bank as an escape route while Brian and Henry had to stand tight as the older females in the herd decided what to do. Luckily they left our group alone. We then had an encounter with another bull.

We also spotted a large lioness from a ridge and managed to approach her within 70 metres without her noticing us. It was very satisfying to sneak up on the 'king of the jungle' or 'queen of the jungle' rather. 

As it was Brian and Chantelle's last night they took the students on a night drive and given the fact we had seen an aardvark a few nights previously on a drive, most people eagerly came along.

And what a drive it was!

We saw two brown hyenas together, which is extremely seldom to see. We also saw the small bat-eared fox. And then a big surprise – two hippos, which in recent days have been spotted in the pool by Solomon's Wall ran out into the open in front of the car. In their long stretch as head instructors here, Brian and Chantelle had never seen any in Mashatu.

We also managed to see the very rare Selous’ mongoose.

And the absolute highlight and first for all the students – a striped polecat! To put into perspective how rare this animal is to see – in their 25-odd year long careers as guides, Brian and Chantelle have seen around three striped polecats each. And that is considered a lot.

It was another fantastic day in Mashatu, wow!

PS: Brown hyenas and striped polecats don’t stick around to be photographed, sadly…”

(Thanks for sharing, Jomi!)

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