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The safari guide’s Holy Grail

The safari guide’s Holy Grail

The safari guide’s Holy Grail

The ‘big five’ take a back seat when this little fellow steals the limelight!

Every now and then, guides get a day to remember for a lifetime. On a recent full day safari from Camp Hwange, I was driving some guests to Detema dam for game viewing. We rounded a bend to see an elephant bull walking down the road towards us. I stopped and turned off to watch him approach.

I soon noticed he had a particular look to his walk and an exaggerated flick of his ears. Closer inspection through the binos confirmed my suspicion that he was in musth. I pulled the vehicle off to the side of the road to get out of his way, and told my guests to keep quiet and still as he came closer.

He walked next to the vehicle and then stopped and turned to face us, metres away. We all sat quietly; he was not aggressive, but sure of himself and of his dominant size compared to us. This lasted for a few minutes before I felt a tap on my shoulder and one of my guests asked  “What is that?” pointing down the road.

I turned and saw a pangolin halfway across the road. I started the vehicle and raced down the road to where it was, leaving the elephant in the dust. Before the vehicle had come to a complete halt I had already jumped out and was on my knees staring at the animal that I had waited my entire guiding career to see. To me and many others this is the Holy Grail of guiding.

We then spent the next forty minutes just watching this amazing creature. We backed off, hoping to see it walk again, which it did, but went straight between two nearby logs. We now had a good view of its head, albeit we were lying on our stomachs and peering under one of the logs.

At first my guests did not understand why I was so excited. By the end of the forty minutes it had fully dawned on them that this was a once in a lifetime sighting. Well, for myself I hope to find the Grail again.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 10, Sept 2012)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Hwange