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Ndutu Day I Part II (Honey Badger and Cheetah)

OMG! It's the elusive honey badger!

View The Howards' 40th Anniversary Tour 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.


After breakfast we go and check on the lion cubs we saw earlier, to find they are all asleep; so we leave them to it and go to “see what nature will offer us”. This is one of Malisa's favourite sayings, and I love it!





We all get very excited when Malisa spots a Lesser Spotted Thick Knee in the undergrowth. I know it is a crappy picture, but this is a lifer for us (first time we have seen one, to be added to the Life List). He is gone before I manage to get a better photo unfortunately.



Mummy Plover is fiercely protecting her eggs, which are in a nest within a shallow hole on the Short Grass Plains of Serengeti, without any cover or other protection. We could so easily have run the nest over if Malisa wasn't so observant.




Malisa explains that this area is the best place to see cheetah. Mind you, he said the same last year; and we didn't see any then either.

Although we can see jackals, hyenas, eland and Thomson's gazelles in the distance; I really struggle to keep awake.


I certainly wake up and feel a surge of adrenalin when I see something in the distance and we discover they are a pair of honey badgers! Malisa races off at speed across the savannah, and I try to hold on for dear life while taking photos of the badgers. Unsuccessfully. The photography, that is, not holding on to my life.

Trust me, these are honey badgers. Yes, really.

Here are some better pictures:


A Thomson's Gazelle joins in with the race, just because.


The badgers make several twists and turns to try and shake us off, but Malisa is determined not to lose them.


Before we know it, they run into their little sett and are gone.


What an amazing sighting: these beast are extremely rare to spot; in fact it is only Malisa's second time! Wow!


Check out David's video showing the honey badgers in action.



This was one of my favourite places on the 2016 safari. What a difference a year makes! Last year the valley was lush and the waterhole was full of literally tens of thousands of animals drinking and bathing. This year the valley is dusty and the waterhole dry. And not a single animal!



I feel very deflated and quite disappointed that Hidden Valley is devoid of life. I guess unpredictable rains will have this effect on nature. However, seeing a pair of reedbucks, normally very shy animals, partly makes up for it.


They stand and look at us for a short moment before fleeing.






A few hardy zebra eventually arrive at the desolate valley.



Despite being fascinated by the unusual cloud formation; I find myself feeling more and more sleepy as we cross the short grass plains towards the Small Marsh, an area famed for being a good breeding site for both cheetah and lions. My chest infection has now turned into bronchitis, and I started a course of antibiotics this morning, which seems to have completely knocked me out. All my body wants to do is sleep. All my mind, heart and photography finger want to do is to see animals. Right now my body wins, and I drift into a peaceful slumber.


The renowned cats in this area are certainly not around today; just a few zebra and giraffes graze quietly here this morning.



Having our breakfast with the lions this morning meant we were unable to leave the vehicle to 'mark our territory'; and by now I am getting pretty desperate. I guess there not being many dangerous animals around is a benefit as I get my Shewee out and seek shelter and privacy to pee behind the car.

I am not quite sure how to explain this without going in to graphic detail, and trust me, you don't want to know. Suffice to say, I have a massive shewee fail. So here I am, in the middle of the wilderness of the Serengeti, changing my underwear; with a very bemused giraffe looking on! The adventures of the Howards are never boring! Sorry – or thankfully in my case – there are no pictures.





So, Malisa was right after all (of course), this is a good place for lions. Considering a couple of minutes ago I was outside the vehicle wearing very little, this blog could have had a very different story - or even ending - to it.



Not only do we see a lion, just a short distance away is also a lone female cheetah. Acutely aware of the lion down on the marsh, she rests uneasily in the shade of a bush.


Although lions are not considered predators as far as cheetahs go, they can and will attack cheetahs as they are considered competitors within the food chain. Probably hiding babies in a bush somewhere, the cheetah is constantly on the move, trying to shake the lion off.


As usual, we follow her and eventually she settles down, at least for a while.


She is still very much alert, looking left and right to ensure she is safe.



It's tiring work dodging lions.



There is no chance of relaxing though.


With a jolt, this beautiful slender cat stands up, having obviously spotted something.


The reason for her sudden unease soon becomes clear.


The Cheetah keeps a very close eye on the lioness as she gets nearer.


The lioness, however, does not appear to be heading for the cheetah. The cheetah is on our left, whereas the lioness is heading to our right.


For a long time nothing happens, as they are both settled into an uneasy truce, the cheetah some ten metres to our left, the lion – hidden in the bushes – about the same distance on our right side. We take lunch here, with another car picnic.

The cheetah is taking no chances though, and moves further into the bush. We follow of course, hoping she will lead us her to her babies; who by the looks of her teats, are very young.





She is constantly checking to see if she is being followed.



Eventually she walks down to the marsh where she settles down. No babies to see this time.




It is time for us to move on and "see what else nature has to offer us". Be sure to read the next instalment to see what else we saw this first day on the plains of Ndutu. Thank you to the team at Calabash Adventures for putting together an amazing safari for us.


Posted by Grete Howard 05:35 Archived in Tanzania Tagged africa safari tanzania cheetah lion giraffe ngorongoro honey_badger calabash_adventures ngorongoro_conservation_area coucal dik_dik

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Such beautiful cheetah photos - just wonderful (especially the yawn)! Great you saw honey badgers too. We saw some when we were in Namibia, from a night hide set up by one of the lodges where we stayed, but being dark made it hard to get good photos

by ToonSarah

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