Summer Has Arrived at Hwange
The dry, dusty earth has soaked up the first few rains in Hwange National Park with gusto, much to the joy of both the staff and animals of the Camp Hwange Concession. I have experienced three breathtaking days in this beautiful park following the fall of the new rains.
On the first day I was driving guests from Hwange Main Camp to Camp Hwange and saw an impressive pride of nine lions at the Masuma Pan which is led by the dominant male whom we call ‘Mandla’, which is the Ndebele word for ‘Strength’. They had previously killed and were lazing around in the afternoon sun, in perfect poses for our guests to take pictures! On our drive back to camp, my guests and I shared our first sighting of an elusive Aardwolf which brought about much excitement.
The next day I was fortunate enough to go for a drive with Dave Carsons, the owner of Camp Hwange. I enjoy these opportunities as I am able to take advantage of his profound knowledge of the Zimbabwean wilderness. We spotted some soaring vultures up ahead and simultaneously heard the alarm yelps of jackals which we knew were nursing new pups. We drove in the direction of both vultures and jackals and found two aggressive Honey Badgers in the midst of a violent battle with the jackals who were trying to protect their young. Sadly, we only spotted one of the two jackal pups who inhabit the den but we are hopeful that the mother was in the den with the pups. After this hair-raising event, Dave and I went for a tranquil walk among the rocks and I learnt a little about the flora of the park. We had a quiet rest of the day and saw the two resident male lions enjoying the afternoon sun. That evening, the bush was alive with activity and I was fortunate enough to spot an African Civet, a Wild Cat and our resident Serval in Reedbuck Vlei.
On the third day we were enjoying a cup of coffee in the peaceful shade at Camp when we got a radio call to announce the sighting of a Cheetah which sent the guests into a frenzy as they grabbed their hats and cameras and piled into the 4x4s to see the illustrious cat. Eleven guests and four guides approached the Cheetah who was attempting to kill an Impala but sadly failed to do so. We stayed with him for a while before we set off to find ‘Mandla’s’ pride of lions which we had previously seen at Masuma Dam two days before. On our return to camp, I was sent to ‘babysit’ the Cheetah which consisted of me following the big cat around in the 4×4 in order to learn more about his habits. That evening, the heavens opened once again, bathing the park in freshness.
On our evening drive, we were not the only ones celebrating in the beauty of the rain, Mandla’s pride were equally jubilant with the shower and we sat and watched them play and frolic in the rain. I felt like I was in the middle of a National Geographic Documentary as I sat in awe of the beauty and happiness around me. I will never cease to be in wonderment of the African bush.
Bethany Squire is a learner guide training with Camp Hwange in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. Along with her love of nature, elephants and rifles, she loves being behind the lens of her camera capturing her adventures under the African sky. She is best known as the writer of the ‘Zim Girl in the Wild’ Facebook blog where you can follow her incredible journey thus far.