Wednesday, 22 April 2009

22nd April – Mangadjane Returns!

I was the only Motswari vehicle out on drive this morning, and desperately needed leopard and rhino for some guests who had not managed to see these creatures while staying at another lodge.

I wasn’t too worried about finding leopard, but didn’t realistically expect rhino considering we hadn’t been having much luck lately. The overcast and windy weather had left us, and clear blue skies greeted us, although it was still a bit chilly. We managed to find three buffaloes near Madash dam, but didn’t have any luck with tracks for Mbali around the area. It didn’t bother me much, as the stations down south had found both Nhlangula male rhino, and Mangadjane male leopard!

Upon hearing this, I headed down south. We didn’t see a great deal of general game this morning, the odd waterbuck and usual impala herds, but it was a bit quiet. I left my tracker to follow the spoor of the rhino while I went to go and see Mangadjane. He was sleeping in the Machaton river, but at least showed some more signs of life than the lions last night! He was awake and kept moving south along the river bed, scent marking occasionally before lying down again. We left him as he wandered still further south along the Machaton. We then went to go and see the rhino that my tracker had relocated. The rhino was however in some thick bush, and the wind that blew every now and then wasn’t doing him any favours and he seemed a bit on edge. He eventually moved a bit more into the open when he stood for a couple of minutes before we had to leave him and head back to camp.

On the bush walk we saw a group of five giraffe as well as kudu, impala and warthogs.

The afternoon drive was a quiet one. Although we saw some decent general game including some nice kudu along with a couple of impressive bulls, waterbuck, steenbok, hippos and a crocodile at Mbali dam and loads of impalas, there was not a great deal on the Big 5 front. The Sohebele pride had been located this morning no more than 500m from where they were sleeping off their fat bellies yesterday, but in the afternoon, they appeared to have gone into a thicket of reeds and sedge in the middle of the Nhlarulumi riverbed where it was inaccessible to the Land Rovers. Attempts at driving around the area after dark to see if they had moved were unsuccessful, so we shall have to follow up tomorrow morning.

I was a bit despondent about the drive, but the last few hundred meters around camp before closing down for the night picked up the drive somewhat! It started with nine zebras and hordes of impalas on the airstrip, then a lone bull elephant munching on some Mopane trees near the soccer field, and that was followed by a group of four hyenas near our trade entrance pan. They were from our local clan, and included the heavily pregnant female, two youngish cubs, and a fourth adult member. The two adults ran off to join some more hyenas that were literally laughing on the other side of the staff village, but the cubs stayed around the waterhole and had a drink; and it was also my favourite sighting of the afternoon, and probably the day!

Now I just hope that we can see the Sohebele lions up and about tomorrow, and a sighting of Rockfig and/or Nkateko would not go amiss either!

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