The thrill of a kill or a rare sighting is without a doubt, going to be ingrained in visitors’ minds, but sometimes ´tranquil’ moments can be just as memorable. Field guide Jenny Hishin experienced just such an occasion, which took place recently during a golden sunrise at Singita Pamushana Safari Lodge in Zimbabwe.
It was the final game drive of a very fruitful safari and so they decided to relax in a gorgeous open area, surrounded by cathedral mopane and baobabs.
As Jenny and her group arrived, they saw a clan of hyenas returning from their night-time escapades. The vehicle seemed to act as their meeting point. The hyenas moseyed in from all directions and, after a bit of play, got ready for some shuteye under the rising sun.
Jenny thought it would be beneficial to stay with them for as long as possible because the spotting of a leopard, wild dogs or cheetah, even lions may be possible, due to hyenas being such strong and opportunistic predators.
After an hour or so, Jenny and her group started on their way back; they were quite sure that there was nothing else in the area because the hyenas were dozing. Jenny drove no more than 50 metres down the track when by pure chance she happened to find two male cheetahs in the road, heading into the African sunrise. They sauntered around and after a while, lay down in the track right in front of them.
The group were now sandwiched between a clan of tough hyenas and two ‘delicate’ cheetahs – just then, another hyena strolled up the track, passing the cheetahs who, to Jenny’s surprise, moved away.
The hyena and its clan paid them no attention at all! Once both species were settled, Jenny reversed out of the way; they had hyenas to their left, and cheetahs to their right, in full light, framed against the grandest of cathedral mopanes and a baobab. Quite a phenomenal moment!
It’s quite amazing to think that this extraordinary moment took place without the need for a kill, or anything of the kind. What made this so memorable is the majesty of these animals and their unspoken understanding in this unforgiving landscape. These lucky guests took home something much more precious than a physical memento, they now have the memories of an experience truly unique to Africa, not found anywhere else in the world.