7 Weeks in Kruger: Lower Sabie, Part 1 - The Beasts
Updated: Feb 14, 2019
Wow, I cannot believe that several weeks have already passed since the last blog post! My apologies for the big gap – getting the KrugerExplorer App done has taken over…
We’ve been pouring a huge number of hours into the project and, thankfully, the progress has been excellent. Nearly all of the animal field guide content is now completed, and I’m thrilled to share that the App will include detailed profiles and amazing photography for at least 51 mammals, 227 birds and 13 reptiles, plus much more on the invertebrates, flora, geology and habitats of Kruger National Park!
The maps are making huge progress with our brilliant cartographer, Linda McKenzie, which will bring the 60+ routes included in the App to life too. And the tech side is making huge strides now, with our coding whizz John Esslemont doing great work for us!
So, with a little luck along the way, we’re still aiming for a March 2019 launch. There remains a huge amount to do before then but it’s incredibly exciting and we appreciate all the help and support from those working on the project or simply following our progress on the blog or via social media.
But enough about that for now – back to my 7 Weeks in Kruger…!
Lower Sabie is a favourite camp of many regular visitors to Kruger and it’s easy to see why. The camp itself has a rustic charm but some of the recent modifications and upgrades have been excellent, including the incredible restaurant area that overlooks the Sabie River. Local game viewing is superb as well, offering a range of habitats and viewing opportunities that give a very well-rounded safari experience without having to travel too far.
It was brilliant spending a good chunk of time in this area of the park and I’m going to do two blog posts for Lower Sabie – today’s Part 1 is about the incredible big Beasts and the next Part 2 will be focused on the beautiful local Birds, of which there were many.
The lions are often called the king of the beasts (although I think the quiet confidence of the elephants means that they really rule the bush!), and I encountered this pride just before sunset on the S128, a couple of kilometres north of Lower Sabie. They had just eaten, judging by the full bellies and being very sleepy…
This was an interesting group of lions. There was an adult male at the back and a further five adolescent males in the pride. These males will be forced out of the pride by the dominant father at some point, but they could then form a huge coalition. Five adult males roving across the plains north of Lower Sabie could become a major Kruger highlight for a number of years. Time will tell!
The golden hour light was lovely for these shots, although the ticking clock meant I had to return to the camp before gates closed a little sooner than I would have liked. A wonderful encounter nevertheless and, rather brilliantly, the same pride made another appearance the other side of the Sabie River the following morning while I was having breakfast after my morning game drive.
This next shot sums up ‘beasts’ rather well, I think! A spotted hyena, right next to my vehicle after walking right up to me, giving a flash of those awesomely powerful teeth and jaws.
Hyena have an unfortunate reputation for being cowardly and uncouth scavengers (no thanks to the Lion King movie!) but that massively underplays this incredible animal. They will certainly scavenge and fight other carnivores to steal their kills (as will lions) but they are sophisticated hunters in their own right, adopting a range of different chasing, flanking and hounding tactics depending on the animal being targeted and the numbers of hyena available to join the hunt; their success rate is among the highest of the large African predators and that is no accident.
Beasts don’t have to be gnarly and angry predators though – this little elephant calf was cuteness overload as he showed off for me…
Elephants are highly intelligent animals and learn at prodigious rates when young. We posted an interesting explanation of how they learn from adults as well as trial and error a few months back for those who would like to read more…. Shingwedzi Elephant School
Beasts aren’t always large either. Some of the smaller predators and herbivores make for outstanding sightings between the bigger animals and this black-backed jackal was a wonderful sighting prowling through the grasses on the S30.
They are incredibly handsome canids but I have never found them a particularly common sighting in Kruger. The denser bush keeps their presence secret compared to the numbers seen in the open habitats of Etosha National Park and Kgalagadi National Park where they are a very frequent sighting. They are predominantly scavengers and are most likely to be seen near a lion kill, but they will hunt for themselves too, pouncing on small birds or mammals when the opportunity arises.
Check back in next week for Lower Sabie, Part 2: The Birds as I had some wonderful sightings in lots of different habitats in this area of the park.
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Danny & Charlotte
We'd be thrilled to have you follow our journeys in Kruger and even bigger journey getting the KrugerExplorer App off the ground! The website, blog and social media are updated pretty much every day...