Nighttime drives

Aug 16, 2018

What happens in the bush after dark? Shawn Catterall our General Manager at Tshukudu Lodge went out in search of what happens when the sun goes down.

Once the sun goes down, the bush becomes a different place. The intense darkness makes one feel vulnerable and brings the senses to life. A myriad of special creatures come out to play, and we use spotlights during evening game drives to highlight the eyes of these nocturnal animals.

On evening game drives, we look for all the little nocturnal animals, like chameleons that shine a bright lime green in the spotlight. Guests can't believe that you can spot such a tiny animal at night as you can't even see them during the day due to their perfect camouflage. Another well-camouflaged animal is the larvae of the Emperor Moth whose silver spines sometimes catch the spotlight.

If we are extremely lucky, after the rains other endangered species such as the African Bullfrog come out onto the road to catch insects: Not many people know that they are endangered and are often driven over by cars.

During the winter months, we see many Spotted Eagle owls that are on the road to collect rodents and insects. During the summer we get two species of nightjars that fly around catching insects in the aftermath of our spotlights.

Of course, there are the ever-present and always searched for predators of the night: lions, leopards and caracals. Ethical guides do not shine their spots on predators at night if they are hunting, so we sit in the dark, listening for the slightest movement, sound of duress or warning from the prey.

The sound is amplified at night and a lion kill sounds like a thunderstorm, with everyone fighting for a bite to eat. When we switch the lights off and listen to a kill, guests get a chance to experience something quite different.

Who says doing game drives in the dark are boring? They are often even more special than driving during the day.