Our first game drive on a bitterly cold July morning in the Tuli Game Reserve resulted in the usual magnificent sightings - elephant, eland, zebra, impala and an endless array of bird life. We had just driven across the Majali when I glanced down and my excitement grew as I recognized the lioness tracks in the road. The tracks were headed in the opposite direction meandering down the dirt road. She had probably passed in the predawn hours and was more than likely long gone further upriver. My heart beat quickened however, with the excitement of tracking her down - but then reality struck and I thought to myself "who am I kidding - I had long since lost my ability to track anything after many years of living in the city." Regardless, seeing lion track these days in the Tuli Game Reserve was akin to actually seeing one only a few years ago.
Seeing the lioness tracks was only the beginning of an amazing 4 days on Kanda. We were blessed with multiple predator sightings - leopard, lion, wild dog, hyena and were even lucky enough to see cheetah tracks!
On one particular day we had the pleasure of tracking lion with Tuli's resident lion researcher Andrei Snyman. It was rewarding to see the radio collars and equipment we sponsored in action and to learn how Andrei uses them to keep tabs on the lions location and movements. Needless to say, Andrei has developed a keen bush sense over the years and this combined with the radio collar technology gives him an uncanny and enviable ability to locate a collared lion or leopard efficiently - down to what seemly appears to be an exact GPS coordinate. This is something I could have used to help find the lioness.
On our trip with Andrei we were rewarded with seeing Matswane in the open. He glared at us and emitted a few grunts calling for his pride. His calls were answered only a few 100 meters away from some very dense bush. Seeing this young lion was magnificent. It gave one a renewed sense of hope that thanks to the dedication of people like Andrei and a small group of other dedicated folks that the lion of Tuli have a fighting chance of surviving and that the king of Tuli will lead.