How 2 find animals in Kruger (more advanced guide)
This is an update and more advanced article on how to spot animals in Kruger national park or any other wildlife place for that matter.
You have senses and you will be using 2 of them most of the time to spot animals. You will be using your eyes the most, then your ears. First of all it is
important to know your environment. In other words if you are around Lower Sabie in Kruger National park for example you must know that the animals you will see there most often are : Giant Kingfisher, Baboons, Impala, White Rhino, Hippo’s, Lions and Goliath Heron.
When you know more about the animal that you want to see you will also know when you have bigger changes to see them. For example most predators are nocturnal animals but you still see them during the day. Going to Kruger when the plants and bushes are very dense decreases your changes of seeing animals.
It really helps a lot to talk to game rangers in the camps, watch the sightings boards, talk to fellow campers, stop people while driving. From these alone you might get great hints on where animals were last seen for example where a fresh kill is as mentioned in the previous article.
When you want to see a specific animal learn more about it. For example learn that Lions hunt at night mostly although they have been seen hunting during the day especially on cooler cloudy days and also in early mornings, late afternoon. When you see Hyena’s remember that they are not only hunters but also scavengers therefore they might follow a leopard to steal it’s kill.
The more you learn about the bush and the animals the easier you will know what animal activity are happening right before your eyes. For example I was sitting in my car in Kruger one day and I was taking photo’s of Impala’s where they were peacefully gazing and all of a sudden they stopped eating. From experience I know something was up and as I was sitting there for a while I know it was not me or my camera noises that were disturbing them. Another car came by and I told the guy that I think there might be some predator like a leopard stalking the Impala. The guy laughed it off and told me that leopards don’t hunt in day and drove off. The guy was really gone for only a few seconds when a leopard charged from nowhere and caught an Impala right before my eyes.
We had a game drive were we saw a dead Impala under a tree one night. The Game ranger told us that the Impala was killed only a few minutes ago and the whole body was still intact. We saw some Hyena’s nearby and they wanted to go closer to the Impala but looked wary. A few minutes later the Ranger told us that he think a leopard killed the Impala and the Hyena’s drove it off it’s kill. They were calling for back up and soon there was at least 9 hyena’s and they started feeding on the Impala , ripping it apart.
When you look at a bush there might be an animal there that kept still for that second, and when you look again you might see that the bush just twitched an ear and that the bush is actually a lion resting under the trees.
I have seen this many times when you sit for a while at a waterhole you might be surprised at what you find. We were at a bird hide in the Southern part of Kruger sitting there for hours watching birds and crocs and hippo’s and later on even some ellies drinking water. Then we spot a group of lions lying under a tree. They have been there the whole time and many people came and left after a few minutes and no-one saw them. After a few hours one stood up walked about 2 meters and lay down again. See how patience and awareness is important ?
Look at the smaller things and at the behavior of the animal. Most of the time as long as the animals are grazing they are unaware of any predators. When they stop eating and start looking around, twitching ears, snorting etc you can know that something is up and about to happen. It might take hours and sometimes a leopard walks past them spooking them, but without the intention of hunting.
Look in trees and on the ground and talk to many people. Look and look again, drive very slowly and stop and listen to the bush often. Talk to other people and do some morning walks, sunset and night drives. You will be amazed.
Read up articles on animals that you would like to see, learn their behavior and where you are most likely to find them.