The Best Big 5 Game Spotting Tips in the Pilanesberg

May 9 2016
This month we chat to Tarryn Rae, a field guide at  Mankwe Gametrackers in the Pilanesberg, and a Latest Sightings community member (One of the world’s largest crowdsourcing apps on iPhone/iPad and Android that  informs visitors to national parks, as well as enthusiasts worldwide where interesting animals and birds have just been spotted). She shares her knowledge and experience with us re game spotting in this National Park, which she exclaims, “Pilanesberg Game Reserve is a unique park, and should be treated as such when looking for wildlife sightings.” Below she gives us some tips on spotting the “Big 5”: leopards, lions, elephants and buffalo (although she leaves out the beloved rhino due to poaching circumstances).
The Elusive Leopard:
If Tarryn has learnt anything about these spotted beauties, it is not to go looking for them. They will pop out when and where you least expect it! Pilanesberg doesnt have a large choice of big trees for them to rest in, therefore they are most commonly spotted on the ground, or on rocks. Also keep your eyes open around low water bridges, as they love to rest under them. There are resident leopards in each area of the park.
The Golden Cats (Lions):
Sightings of our “Golden Cats' are always a treat, and in Pilanesberg we are certainly spoilt by them. If you hear of lions on a kill, there is generally a good chance that they will stay in that area for at least a day or two. There is a pride dominating each section of the park so it is just a case of whether they are close to the road, or not. Your chances of seeing them midday in the heat is very slim. In order to give yourself a better chance go out early morning or late afternoon. 
Africa's Giants (Elephants): 
It is always a breathtaking experience to see these  Giants” of our reserves. During the heat of the day the best place to spot them is near a waterhole. This is because they often come to drink and have a splash around. Without a doubt they are always entertaining to watch. When it is colder it seems as though they prefer higher ground. 
The Ghosts of the Pilanesberg (Buffalo):
There is a reason why they are referred to as the 'ghosts' - they are mystifying to find in the Pilanesberg. The problem with buffaloes in Pilanesberg (Tarryn promises they do exist) is that most of the year they are up north in the park. Even sometimes as far north as Black Rhino Private Concession. During the winter months when the water dries up in the north, we then see them venture further down south. In the summertime the best chance is for you to try roads such as Sefara, Moloto and Nare link. 
Tarryn’s final tip is: during the dry season it is a good idea to hang around close to water as a lot of the animals will be in that area. In summer the best is to head out early morning and late afternoon, as in the heat of the day a lot of animals head for the shade. 
If all else fails, Latest Sightings has been built to help increase your chances of seeing more wildlife while on a drive in the park, so make sure to download it here.
Commentary and photography by Tarryn Rae

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