Posted on Monday, November 21st, 2016 in Mana Pools National Park.

I was taken on a night drive at Little Ruckomechi in Mana Pools while staying there. Honest Siyawareva was my guide, and I was grateful when the sun went down, and temperatures cooled after the hot day.

We left late afternoon, and found a spot on the side of the Zambezi River to enjoy a cold beer as the sun dropped behind the hills of Zambia across the river. This was just after we had spotted a leopard (read about it in this blog), and so our spirits were soaring. It’s hard to beat the feeling of a cold beer in your hand, watching the sun go down over an African wilderness, having just spent half an hour with a leopard.

On the night drive back to camp, Honest used a red torch to find and illuminate a variety of animals. (The red light is far less intrusive than a white torch. Most mammals – other than primates – have something called a tapetum lucidum, essentially reflective crystals at the back of their eyeballs, which reflects light back onto their retinas, effectively doubling or even tripling the light that enters their eyes. That’s why most wild animals of Africa have much better night vision than we do. But they are effectively blinded when white spotlights are used.)

Using the red spot light, we spotted a small-spotted genet (sorry, couldn’t resist). This is definitely one of the prettier small predators. Then, just was we got near to camp, a bull elephant stood in our way. Because the bush was thick, we couldn’t get round him, so we just waited, and waited…and waited. Eventually, he moved off, but there’s no rushing a bull elephant!

Night drive at Little Ruckomechi

Sundowners on the banks of the Zambezi River.

 

Night drive at Little Ruckomechi

Towards the end of the dry winters, local people on the Zambian side of the Zambezi start burning the grass…to ensure fresh grazing for their cattle when the rains fall, and partly so that the bush is not thick, so they¬†can see where the wild animals are…living among wildlife is not easy for many communities in Africa.

 

Night drive at Little Ruckomechi

Spotted hyaena on the prowl.

 

Night drive at Little Ruckomechi

I’ve never, ever seen a happy Cape buffalo. They always seem so grumpy, especially the older ones. I would not want to be walking through the bush at night with one of these fellas around.

 

Night drive at Little Ruckomechi

Small-spotted genet.

 

Night drive at Little Ruckomechi

Hippo leaving the river, in search of grazing at night.

 

Night drive at Little Ruckomechi

The red light of our vehicle shines on the bull elephant which took his time to let us pass!

Scott Ramsay of Love Wild Africa is a photographer and writer in protected areas, national parks and nature reserves in Africa.
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