I mentioned in my first blog that we had an elephant visitor during my first night on camp. Since then I have met many more of our resident animals and often you don’t even have to leave the tent to be treated to a miniature safari.
Last night we had elephants in camp yet again, however this time was much more nail-biting as the tent Gabriella and I share was completely surrounded. Through the front opening we could just make out the shape of a huge bull a few metres away and the sounds around us told us there were several more. In the silence of the night every sound of snapping twigs and the huffing of their breath was magnified and when one stopped to pee right beside our tent we could fully understand why Shifra, one of the researchers here, once mistook the sound for that of the river flooding! It made for a tense half hour or so before they moved away and we drifted back to sleep. We discovered in the morning that our visitors had not in fact left camp but had simply moved further down to one end. From the trails of flattened grass and footprints we could see that they had indeed passed around both sides of our tent a few feet away from us.
The elephants are certainly an impressive camp visitor; however there is much enjoyment to be had with the smaller guests too. We are lucky to have two female kudu who hang around most days and are relatively unafraid of humans; allowing for some wonderful photos of one of the largest and most elegant antelope on the reserve.
Of course there are some animals we would rather not see around our tent, including the cheeky vervet monkeys who are always on patrol looking for any opportunity to steal some snacks. Thankfully we have not fallen foul of these looters yet as we have been very careful to close our tent whenever we leave it empty.
As well as the view from our tent, the other occasion when we see animals in abundance is during mealtimes. Hornbills and superb starlings are our most common dinner guests and during the day we are regularly visited by a troop of dwarf mongoose; who are very sweet despite their devilish red eyes. But perhaps my favourite visitor is our friendly genet. It was a treat to see these animals on my recent visit to South Africa, so to have one sharing dinner with us almost every night is very exciting. They are beautiful nocturnal creatures related to civets and mongooses and are unusual in that they have both spots and stripes. They feed on both animals and plants but are great opportunists and our dinner table is the perfect place to snatch an easy meal.
These are just a select few of my wildlife highlights on camp and there is certainly plenty more to be spotted, from birds to insects to lizards. All this makes for an amazing place to live for any animal lover and I am certainly going to enjoy my next few weeks surrounded by all this incredible wildlife.