Friday, 17 April 2009

16th April – More Lovely Leopards!

Howdy! I am back from my leave, and as always, it’s great to be back in the bush. No major news during the past week. Game viewing sounds as though it has been relatively good. Mbali and Kuhanya were seen several times, as were the five Sohebele sub-adult lions, the skinny young male still pushing on. The highlight of the week that was must have been the guides that were lucky enough to watch the final stages of an elephant giving birth! An extremely rare occurrence and I was most envious of the guys when I heard about that.

I arrived back yesterday and headed out for a drive with some new guests in the afternoon. Things sounded quite good; Andrew had seen the Big 5 on Tuesday afternoon, and Wednesday morning produced sightings of elephant, the Sohebele sub-adults and, for the third successive drive, Mbali and Kuhanya with an impala kill.
My drive started off well; we have a new baby giraffe around camp; he is no more than a couple of weeks old, and he was with his mother not 200m from camp. On the airstrip we spotted one lone wildebeest, a bit of a rarity up north! Four male waterbuck alerted us to the presence of a predator; we followed their stares to two leopards, Mbali and Kuhanya, who were resting on the road at Madash dam. Being quite full, there was not a great deal of activity, although we did see some nice interaction between the two, and some francolins that got too close to the resting leopards were promptly chased!
Unfortunately we had no luck relocating the five lions that moved towards some private camps. Johannes also found Mangadjane male leopard on our Java property, but was left when he entered a neighbouring farm.

The guests enjoyed a nice surprise by having dinner in the bush at our ‘bush braai’ (barbeque) before heading back to camp, seeing two hyena, elephant, impala and a wildebeest on the airstrip.

This morning was not too bad, and produced some different sightings. We had a heavily pregnant hyena sleeping on the road not far from camp (Andrew saw her sleeping in Xinatsi dam in the afternoon). We also saw a Gabar goshawk with a small kill, a very large snouted cobra that had just killed a giant plated lizard, but retired to a termite mound when we drove past – it was easily over 2m long. Godfrey also saw a nice python this morning. General game included a few herds of waterbuck with a good number of babies, some zebra, giraffe and of course, impala!

Herald located a large herd of buffalo near Entrance dam down south. I got to see the herd, with a new born calf from last night, as they headed to the north; a bit later in the morning, Godfrey watched them have a drink at Makulu dam.

Herald also found us a leopard, Nkateko female. She was not far from Entrance dam and wandered around before stopping to rest up a large knobthorn tree where I found her later on in the morning. She woke up and gave us a few yawns before demonstrating her agility by descending the tree and then moving north back towards Vielmeter.

In the afternoon, I had a relatively quiet drive, once again coming up empty handed on the lion front, and we couldn’t find any tracks, so presumably the young lions are still on Peru somewhere. Palence and Andrew saw a bull elephant up north, Godfrey got a few dagga boys, I once again saw that large herd of 300-odd buffalo, and Johannes found a herd of elephants on his way home this evening, but it was already dark. I also got lucky and saw two hippos come out of the water after dark at Mbali dam, as is the habit of these nocturnal grazers.

The most notable sighting of the afternoon was Andrew finding Mbali female leopard (he had also seen her this morning while out on bush work) in the same area she was yesterday, but he left her when she moved through some thick bush.

So all in all, it has not been a bad return to the bush, so now all I want is to see my lions again!!!

Have a great day!


Chad Cocking

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