Paying the man to sit in his shed watch the wildlife he has cultivated has been a bit controversial, but I am on my way back from Zimanga in South Africa where they have “super-hides” with one-way glass for birds, & mammals.
There are hides at water-level for waders.
Movable hides for the variable nesting-sites of bee-eaters.
These animals are all properly wild, & not habituated any more than any others, but very unfortunately, all the rhinos have recently been de-horned after poaching. We may be the last generation ever to have seen a rhino horn on a rhino.
There is an overnight hide with real beds & a backroom with kettle, fridge & microwave (even internet!) & LED lighting. There is an infrared motion detector if you need a nap.
There's always one won't get in line!
At Zimanga, there are also chipped predators – 4 lions, but just a single cheetah (the male died recently). This means the animals can always be found by telemetry - not always in a good place to see them, though. This pic on a fresh kill taken with 24mm on foot, so not so “wild”, but a real kill.
There is a pack of 18 dogs which are a highlight, two collared for telemetry. We spent a lot of time with them on foot / lying in the dirt within touching distance. They were oblivious to us & appeared to behave normally with lots of interaction, fights & rough & tumble.
We saw two kills, one after seeing the whole hunt, from start to sleeping it off.
I won’t post the more gruesome images!
There is a whiff of captivity here, but the reserve is about 15km across & well managed. The Mara, it ain’t, but if you can tolerate or want human habituation in your African predators, I can’t believe there is anywhere better. A very memorable week.