From swimming with the herd of horses at Hanchi to seeing cheetahs hunting up close and watching giraffes at sunset, it’s been an exciting couple of months at the Hanchi Conservation Project!
Volunteers that were out tracking hyenas were also lucky enough to catch glimpses of the rarely seen caracal this month.
“When we found the Hyena it was sleeping under a bush. We watched for a while and then it woke up. It moved away but we were able to follow at a distance to see what it was doing. This was a very exciting. While were following it we came across a caracal sitting under a bush! It ran off but we got a good sighting which I will never forget!” Phoebe Cambridge.
One volunteer described a “priceless horse ride” at Hanchi, where the group spent time getting close to a herd of eland, splashing with the horses in the dam and watching giraffes at sunset. It was a hot day and so was the perfect way to let the horses cool off. The volunteers had a fantastic experience of not only swimming with the animals but seeing how much the horses enjoyed it too!
Tracking the cheetah on foot, our volunteers followed the female quietly for 15 minutes before she found a gemsbuck calf. The group watched her stalked the calf and then dash out from her cover in attack. When they caught up with her again, she had killed the gemsbuck and was feeding. They were able to watch and experience this very close, and on foot. To witness such a sighting at close range is very exciting!
Part of the work involved for volunteers at Hanchi, includes habituating very nervous groups of buffalo on the greater reserve to the game drive vehicle. On a regular game drive of the flood plains, the group stopped to check a waterbuck bull, but after hearing the bush crashing behind him, were surprised to see a herd of 20 buffalo run out into the open! It is not often that buffalo are so easily seen as they prefer to stay amongst the bush off-road and are notoriously elusive on this reserve!
Recent hyena studies at Hanchi saw them tracking a brown hyena for an hour and a half. The hyena was nervous of the attention at first, but soon settled and became more relaxed for the team to observe his hunting behaviour.