Fred dissecting a “fur ball” coughed up by a Bateleur Eagle containing termite ex-skeletons. The Bateleur Eagle – the culprit who almost hit us with his “termite ball”
On returning to the lodge we were too full to eat breakfast so went straight to the pool, where a young bull elephant joined us for a drink. We had such a wonderful leisurely day.
Bull Elephant joining us at the pool – a very common sight in winter especially
Before heading out on the evening drive Fred (our ranger) and Scott the Night-Eye guy briefed us on what we could expect from the experience. In the vehicle were 3 monitor screens placed in the middle of each row and a camera mounted on the dashboard, along with a mobile GoPro that Scott would use to get some interesting angles and footage of us in the vehicle.
The Night-Eye setup
Fred would conduct his game drive as per normal, with our tracker Wiseman on the front tracker seat. Scott would film as we went and the rest would be business as usual. Scott advised us that as part of the deal, he will be making a short 4/5 minute video of our game drive experience for our memories and to show family and friends.
We were told that the camera is a very high definition infrared camera with incredible zoom capabilities, and would be used to film all our wildlife sightings. Filming in vibrant colours during the day, it would be during the pitch black of night that the camera would really come into its own with crisp, clear black & white video that wouldn’t need any spotlight to view the animals.
The concept behind this type of camera is to witness the natural behavior of the animals, both nocturnal and diurnal, without them being disturbed by the spotlight that trackers use to find and follow their movements at night.
At &Beyond the guiding teams are at all times extremely respectful of the animals, especially at night where they use red filters on the spotlights so as not to affect the animal’s immediate vision. Wiseman, our tracker would still need to find the animals using the spotlight, but once they were found we could switch to the infrared camera in the darkness and watch the monitor screens to see the action.
Leopard photo take from the Night-Eye video
We started off slowly, with a scrub hare gnawing on a grass stalk, after that a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl (one of Ngala’s 10 “Star Birds”) and then a little herd of Impala. And what was so nice about watching the Impala was you could actually watch them at night. Normally the tracker turns off the spotlight when driving past all diurnal animals, then we just have to keep moving away from them so as not to disturb them with the light. But now with the infrared camera filming, with vehicle switched off and spotlight off, we could watch the impala clearly while behaving naturally in the darkness. A truly wonderful experience!
We searched for lions but to no avail. I just think that being able to follow lions at night while hunting must be a magical experience. Without the lions showing themselves to us, we drove back past the leopard we saw the previous night. She was still there, but feeding on the ground now. We managed to get a good view of her using the camera as she finished off the last morsels of the Impala lamb.
I can highly recommend doing the Night-Eye if you are staying at and &Beyond lodges that offer it. Arriving back at the camp we had another delicious dinner. The kids were exhausted after such an exciting day so hardly even ate before heading to bed.