It’s a cold, late summer morning. I’m on an early morning safari truck, tightly wrapped up in a blanket. I’m desperately trying to protect my face from the icy lashes hurtling towards it as we drive through the park. So far this morning, we have spotted a rhino, various buck, a black backed jackal and zebras. I think we’re having a good run but now, we’re fiercely searching for Tau.
Tau, the seSotho word for Lion, is the main attraction on the safari but is not always very accommodating. Earlier in the morning, while at the lake our guide identified, what he referred to as, “verbalisations of Tau” (I didn’t hear anything but the guide says it was rather distinct, so okay). We’re nearing the end of our tour, after an icy morning the sun slowly starts to make an appearance. After two hours, despite the “raucous” noise they’ve been making, we have yet to see Tau.
And then a message crackles over the radio “verbalisations of Tau… (something)…near the lake.” Yes, well we’ve been here before I think. Our guide asks whether we would like to head back to the lake, we had earlier abandoned out quest and were now on the other side of the park. The international tourists in our tour vehemently agree and off we went down the dusty roads of the park, the wind slapping our faces as the words “Tau is here…Tau is here” came screaming through the radio.
Indeed, Tau was there and so was everyone else.
After a long chilly morning, we finally found the illusive Tau. The family was out for a walk and yes,’verbalising’ along the lake’s shore (a lot easier to hear once we got there). The area around where they were walking was of course very congested (those radios work) but it was a great sight to see.
The older male lion was right at the end of the procession. He is rather old and “won’t be with us much longer” we are told. The little cub was rather taken with his grandfather and was adamant that he not be left behind. So, we got to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ as he ran between his mother and grandfather egging him to get a move on.
Despite my freezing fingers and feeling bizarre huddle of tourists, I was pleased that we got up before dawn to spot some game. It was my first safari, so I was pleased we got see the lions. I was even more pleased at seeing the big five my first time around. (Look out for that story…next post)
Pilanesberg National Park and Game Reserve, North West Province