It had been another all “nighter”, the stakes were high and the odds had not been in our favor. Four trucks had been out looking for tracks for the last four nights, an additional two from the usual schedule for the past 17 nights – we were determined. No one likes losing, least of all losing two in a row. As the rising sun made a spectacular entry from the east, I knew we were beaten – humbled by one of Africa’s most mysterious creatures.
Within hours we were taxiing along Mungari Rio, Runway 16-34, a secluded bush strip in the middle of the Zambezi Delta, Mozambique. Our pilot Josh revved the engine for the last time before easing the Cessna 206 into a south-easterly direction. Within minutes we had covered the 25 miles to the swamps, enjoying the view of hundreds of Cape Buffalo and Elephant, before turning west along the coast towards Beira. As the terrain skid by below us our minds drifted off into a forgotten era, Africa’s wilderness had left us in awe – romanticized by her raw beauty. We may have come up empty-handed on a couple of Leopard, but not in the journey that is the true essence of a safari.
But let’s rewind the clock by three weeks, I had my good friend, Johnny Posey, desperately trying to get comfortable on the sticks as the weary old Nyala entered the shooting lane. He had been in and out of the forest, with Johnny, Mike, Temba, and myself, closing the distance between us and him as fast and quiet as possible.