Guided by Goodman: Savuti’s Stellar Storyteller

Cultures & Communities

Deon de Villiers


To find a person with intimate knowledge, endless respect and profound love for our environment is quite unique. I had the privilege of meeting such a fella last week as he taught me the ins and outs of the remote Linyanti Reserve in the very north of Botswana. With ten years’ guiding experience in the Savute Channel, he knows every nook and cranny, and even the names of specific animals by their tracks in the sand. With confidence, he teaches his learnings and with humbleness he stimulates your mind with every natural change that has occurred over the past decade in this living environment. His intimate knowledge goes deep into the movement of wildlife, as well as every animal that once dominated a territory in this prized landscape.


He is a quietly-spoken individual who goes about his role in a methodical manner, even when tasked with being out the whole day to watch the sunrise, and the day’s changes, until it magically disappears in the darkness. He relishes such opportunities. Patience is his virtue and to wait a few hours until you are blessed with the visuals you’re after seems to be a personal goal from which he draws his inspiration.


Goodman Ndlovu is his name, and with tightly controlled mannerisms he takes you on a journey through the Linyanti. But when the discussion takes him to his pride and joy, the Savute Channel lions, his eyes light up and a clear excitement and untold energy emerge from deep within…


‘These lions, the “Savute Channel Pride”, originate from the DumaTau Pride. Like two business partners starting up on their own, the two lionesses began moving together towards the end of 2016, predominately along the Savute Channel. The lionesses were taken over by the Channel Males who fathered five cubs (one female and four males).


I have seen books written of lions hunting by the moon, but these lions are different in that they hunt predominantly during the day. Just like any lion, they take afternoon naps, but wake up and hunt with only mini-naps in between.


To me this is different lion behaviour, and is much more exciting than most of their species.


Their habitat is mainly woodlands, including mopane and Kalahari apple-leaf, and their love is hunting in the channel’s floodplains.


Having the Savute Channel Pride around has given us amazing opportunities to see male lions frequently. I believe the presence of these lions and their domination of the area will eventually make the Channel Pride the resident pride of the Savute.


To me this is exciting as the channel has not had a resident pride for a very long time.’

- Goodman Ndlovu


Goodman was true to his word and his persistence found us the pride on Day One, just as the sun was setting. He assured me the next day would be when the action would start as this pride is the one which he bargains his reputation on to wait for first light to start their hunt. Goodman’s insight did not fail, and Day Two had us witnessing a plethora of hunting techniques as the Savute Channel Pride went about their daily ritual in animated flow, almost controlled by my humble guide who claims that hours spent with these animals will always deliver good results (even in the heat of the day…)!


Exciting news is that by October next year, these five cubs (all going well) will be close to two years old, so these daytime hunting extravaganzas could be a phenomenal force seven lions strong – which certainly promises to entertain as these animals have the skills and courage to take on the largest of prey!


Goodman on why he loves working for Wilderness:



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