Monday, 20 April 2009

18th & 19th April – A bit quiet for a change…

The last two days have been a bit quiet for a change, we have gotten used to lions and leopards on most drives for the past few months and taken it for granted. We are still struggling like mad for our lions, but luckily we always have some leopards to fall back on!

I wasn’t driving on Saturday, but the guys did manage to see Rockfig and Nkateko in the morning, for a short while until Rockfig wandered off leaving just Nkateko on her own. There was also one of the Machaton female lions on Double Highway, but I don’t think that any of our guides responded having seen those three male lions the day before. Up north there were quite a few elephants, Godfrey and I each found a herd, and I also saw a good number of bull elephants about. In the afternoon, Nkateko was found again, as were a couple of dagga boys and elephant. The young Machaton male lion was also found with one of the females at Elephant dam in the afternoon, meanwhile Johannes had the best sighting of the afternoon when he tracked the Sohebele male lion, yes, THE Sohebele male! Still alive, still well, and seemingly following a buffalo herd! He was right in the far north eastern corner of our traversing, but unfortunately followed the buffalo off the property – but well done Johannes for finding him again! Some staff members that were returning to camp from a soccer match also saw the Sohebele pride on the Timbavati access road in the evening, a bit north of our boundary.
Sunday morning was again rather quiet. Tracks for the Sohebele pride were eventually found coming back onto our property, but as they did last time, they walked straight towards the same private camps where we couldn’t follow them! A couple of elephants were spotted, and Palence found a large male impala hanging in a Mopane tree near Voel dam, but no leopard was seen. It could either be the Argyle male, but more than likely the other very skittish male we occasionally see around that area. We had four large bull elephants join us at camp, and fed and drank at the waterhole while the guests enjoyed their breakfasts.

I drove in the afternoon, and besides some fair general game, also had a good number of dagga boys around Mbali dam, as well as a large bull elephant not far from there. There were no signs of the Sohebele pride again, but the Machaton pride with the Timbavati males were found far south, but we didn’t respond.

There was another leopard kill found, this time a duiker, but again no leopard was seen. We thought it might have been Nthombi, but we are not sure now; the guides will follow up again tomorrow.

Nkateko was also located around her favourite haunt not far from Hide dam. Godfrey got to watch her stalking some francolins and impala, which she missed, and then when I started following her after sunset, she stumbled upon a steenbok which she proceeded to stalk, and quite patiently it must be said! She got within a few meters, but as the dusk turned to dark we sat dead quietly waiting….and waiting…and waiting…until eventually she ran in….and the steenbok ran away! It was a good effort though! And in a way it was good that she missed, as she no sooner missed the steenbok when the matriarch hyena of the Rockfig clan came running in and would invariably had stolen the kill had Nkateko succeeded. We left the young leopard to her own devices and then went to see another four members of the Rockfig hyena clan that were relaxing near Hide dam, the rather cute youngsters were quite curious and came closer to investigate us before the clan moved off on another nights foray.

Now we wait and see where our Sohebele pride decide to go tomorrow!

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