We woke up a couple of times in the middle of the night – there was a warthog convention underneath our tent. We got a wake up call (yell) from BB at 5:30 in the morning. We got ready, admired the sunrise, then had breakfast at 6 and headed out on our drive around 6:30. Beverly still was not feeling well, nor was Rick, who had gotten ill the night before, so it was just the two of us. It didn't seem like much of a happy 56th birthday for Rick, but we guess it was better than going to work.
First we saw a bunch of hippos, some with birds hanging around on their back. BB told us that there is a bit of a symbiotic relationship between the hippos and the birds – the hippos kick up insects when they walk, and the birds eat the insects. We saw two large ground hornbills – BB told us that they were the largest hornbills in the world.
Then we were going along the road, and BB stopped, then went in reverse briefly, and said "Cheetah." We saw nothing, but as we started driving right towards it we could see it lying on a hillside. It had just woken up, and was going through its morning routine – looking left, looking right, looking back at us a couple times, then getting up and stretching and yawning. It basically posed for a long time, not at all concerned that we were there. After checking things out, she walked off and then jogged a bit until she got to another, taller, hill, presumably to use as a lookout for the rest of the morning. BB told us that in addition to this female, there used to be 3 brother cheetahs in the area, but now there are only 2, since one died from a snake bite within the last year. He told us that cheetahs usually run no more than 100 meters, with a maximum of 200 meters, before they have to give up – any more than that and they could die from exhaustion. The white tip on the tail, and black on the back of the ear, is to give off signals to cubs when they are following behind.
We drove around for awhile without anything of significant interest (more impala and warthogs), when we saw a lone hyena and then a bunch of vultures in the tree. We went to where the vultures were, and 50 or so additional vultures took off from what we quickly discovered was a dead elephant (picture is not graphic). BB surmised this is why the hyenas we saw the day before looked fat – they had already been to chow down. BB guessed that it had been dead about 36 hours, probably from natural causes.
We drove around some more and saw two eagles at a top of a tree – one tawny eagle and one Bateleur eagle – seemed odd they would be hanging out together. We went by 3 Roan Antelope, which are very endangered, and we could tell it kind of piqued BB's interest. We kept driving around to get a closer or better look at them, but they kept moving away. We stopped at one point to have some tea and snacks, and there was a large group of zebras nearby. BB said he counted 31 zebra. They scared us at one point, because they hurriedly backed away from the water, then stared at us. We looked behind us, wondering if there was some sort of predator behind us coming towards the zebra (and us). Thankfully there was nothing.
On our way back, we saw a handful of baboons, as well as a parrot chowing down on a Sausage Tree fruit. We also saw more warthogs and more hippos. One of them was eyeing us. Brunch was at 10:30, and people quickly dispersed to their respective tents after brunch. We stayed in the main sitting area, as dozens upon dozens of elephants walked by to graze and drink from the spillway. Later on some lechwe came by as well. A little closer to the main area there was a large group of starlings grazing. We were trying to catch up on the diary, but kept getting pulled away because of the photographic opportunities. We wondered why we were the only ones taking this in. It seemed a little too easy to find everything we were looking for. We worried we may have jinxed ourselves when we said that.
For the afternoon drive, Rick and Beverly were both able to make it, which was good. Unfortunately, the drive itself was not as eventful as the first two game drives, or even the drive we had into camp the day before. We started off by searching for the cheetah that we had seen in the morning, but to no avail. Then we drove over to where we had seen the elephant carcass in the morning – curious whether other animals had congregated around it, but again there was nothing going on. We did happen to see three hyena playing, just like dogs, with one running around trying to get the other two to chase it. Other highlights from the afternoon drive included:
When we got back to Selinda, Rick and we went to dinner – Beverly was not feeling up to it. We were all really tired, so we left right after dinner, before dessert or the campfire.