NB: This post was written 5 days ago but there has not been enough signal to use the sat phone for emailing
The tarmac road to Moremi (the new camp) soon gives way to a hard graded dirt road, the kind of road that would shake most ordinary vehicles to pieces in a matter of hours. The Toyota land cruiser is one of the few vehicles which can put up with this kind of abuse. When we got to the camp, we heard that the one of our vehicles has not only taken the wrong road, but that it has also broken down. We arrived just before sunset to find a half-built camp under a spectacular sausage tree*. There was just time for a quick drive around to look for tracks before dark.
Moremi game reserve borders the Okavango swamp, and like the Okavango sits on a huge flat bed of fine Kalahari sand. Car tracks in these areas offer a perfect substrate for animal tracks. Every morning, the night’s events are easily read, and to a degree timeable. Many of the animals prefer to use the tracks, especially lions, as they offer a silent way of moving around. For us, the tracks give us a quick way of finding our lions. Even if they just cross a road, 9 lions usually leave clear evidence. Any degradation of the tracks, by wind, insects, rain etc allows us to make a good guess as to when the tracks were made.
The next morning, we set off early an very soon found some lions, two females, a full grown male intent on mating with one of the females, and a young male with some kind of severe eye injury. The big male’s face was also bleeding from a huge gash on his nose.
Interesting - but they weren’t the lions we were looking for – they were bloated from recently eating a huge meal and wouldn’t be interested in food for another 4 days or so. The only thing of significance was that the big male with the cut face was apparently two timing. His own pride was the very pride we were looking for, 5 females and 4 cubs - and they would be very annoyed if they knew what he was up to – especially in a place they would regard as their own.
*The Sausage tree is so called because of its enormous sausage-shaped fruits weighing about 10 KG each, loved by elephants but a bit of a menace to smaller animals - baboons have been killed and lions knocked out by these falling fruiteorites.