Savuti Channel, Day One

On the first morning at Savuti Channel on our Botswana safari, we found a pride of lions with their zebra kill.

lioness and zebra kill
lioness and zebra kill
lion feeding
lion feeding

Less than a mile away, this zebra was bloody but walking without a limp. Perhaps a lion bit the tip of the zebra’s tail, and the zebra managed to escape. The zebra’s legs and rump are bloody where the zebra’s tail would touch when the zebra wags its tail.

wounded zebra
wounded zebra

A lone elephant in the distance, across untrampled grass. This is Africa.

lone elephant
lone elephant

As we pulled up to a water hole, this elephant ran out from behind a bush.

elephant came out from behind a bush
elephant running out from behind a bush

Elephants came to the waterhole to drink.

One of our favorite birds, a lilac-breasted roller.

lilac-breasted roller
lilac-breasted roller

We visited the lion pride, and they were still at it.

We visited the Savuti Channel and found a pod of hippos.

hippo in the Savuti Channel
hippo in the Savuti Channel

In the afternoon we encountered this elephant in musth, where the male elephant’s testosterone levels are increased and they are more aggressive than normal. This elephant charged our land cruiser, and our guide had to drive fast in reverse to escape. Besides being aggressive, an elephant in musth has urine dripping from his penis (which we saw) and a secretion running down from behind the eye.

elephant in musth
elephant in musth (click to enlarge)

The other land cruiser followed us through the water to get to the elephant in musth.

As we headed back to camp at dusk, a leopard crossed the road in front of us. It stopped beside the road as we stopped. It was six feet away, looking at me. I tried to take a picture, but the camera did nothing when I pressed the shutter button. It was too dark for the camera settings. My camera was set for daytime (100-400 mm lens, aperture value of f/6.3, auto ISO), and it was dark.

By the time I changed the camera settings, the leopard was walking down the road.

leopard at dusk
leopard at dusk

A couple joined us for dinner. Friends of our guide, they’re filming lions. They were sleeping in their truck near the zebra kill, and they heard the kill in the middle of the night. They’ve made films for the BBC and National Geographic, including underwater shots of crocodiles in the Okavango Delta. Very impressive.

After dinner, I talked about the leopard sighting with our guide, and he said that where we saw the leopard is only a quarter mile from camp, as the crow flies. We drove on the road, which winds around. Closer to home, last month a mountain lion wandered through a nearby school and the park where I play tennis.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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