Tuesday, 9 June 2009

07th & 08th June – Mtenga-tenga Rhino Finds Love!

The last two days have been a bit chilly and windy here in the Timbavati, but the guests visiting Motswari have still been treated to some good game viewing. Sunday morning saw Johannes finding the large Argyle male leopard on Motswari wedge just North West of the camp; unfortunately he did move off the property to the west. Andrew was on his way to see this leopard when he bumped into a leopard of his own near our airstrip; Argyle Jnr’s 15-month old female cub. Although she is not as relaxed as our other leopards, she still provided a good sighting, and allowed the vehicle to follow her as she wandered about chasing birds! There was no luck in relocating that buffalo herd from last night, nor a rhino whose tracks were seen a few hundred meters from camp.

I went on drive in the afternoon, and the windy conditions weren’t overly conducive to good game viewing, but we still had a nice drive with some giraffe near camp, a nice herd of about 25-30 elephant feeding quite close to the vehicle. The youngsters were also entertaining playing with one another and attempting to be big and scary and chase the vehicle away! After that we saw some baboons, kudu and impala, as well as hippo at Vyboom dam. After drinks things were a bit quiet, although heading back o camp we came across three elephants drinking at Voël dam, another lone bull a bit further on, then some zebra on our airstrip and that herd of buffalo were once again just behind the camp at Trade Entrance dam. During dinner all the guests went to have a looka t three elephants drinking at the waterhole in front of the lodge.

Despite Monday being windy once again, our game viewing was pretty good. That buffalo herd did a good job avoiding us once more, but when two rhino’s were found down south, we decided to head over there. We did find two herds of zebra and kudu around, as well as some giraffe with a young calf. We heard that the rhinos were right on the boundary of our reserve, but took a chance anyway, and got lucky, as when we arrived, we found our relaxed male rhino, Mtenga-tenga, in the company of a lovely female! She was the most relaxed female I have seen in the Timbavati, and a rather large female at that! The two hung around for the duration of the sighting, the female just standing 10m away looking at us while Mtenga-tenga casually grazed a bit further away. It is good to see that this poor male has finally found a female, and it is no doubt the female that he was seen mating with a week-and-a-half ago. If all goes well, we might have a baby rhino running around in 16-months time!

We left the rhinos and headed a few kilometers north to see the Sohebele pride, all seven members that had been found near our Java camp. It was really great to hear that all of the pride were together in the heart of their old territory, but what was even better was that they had a kill – a young zebra! Although the meat was almost all gone, and all the lions were fat and sleepy when I arrived, it wasn’t long before they went to feed on the bones and scraps again. With full bellies, three of the pride, including the lactating female, managed to shove some more food into their guts!

In the afternoon, we found another nice herd of elephant with some young babies, but our main goal was to see a leopard, so when the southern stations fond Nthombi female leopard, we headed down south. The general game was pretty good; we saw a nice herd of giraffe with some zebra and impala, several herds of waterbuck, baboons, hippo and a lone male giraffe. We eventually arrived and joined Herald at the leopard sighting where Nthombi was perched in the fork of a marula tree. She remained there posing for the camera for about half an hour before we left and went to have a look at the Sohebele pride who were remarkably still feeding on what little was left of the zebra! It was really great to see and hear them growling and tussling over the few scraps before they all headed off to the trough below the Geiger’s cottage and we watched them having a drink from the opposite bank of the Machaton riverbed. We headed back home and managed to see a few more elephants on the way back, as well as two elephants drinking from the pool back at camp.

Another interesting bit of news was that Johannes found tracks for a lone male cheetah in the central parts of the reserve (drinking at Java dam), but unfortunately we had no luck in tracking him, but maybe we have some luck finding him over the next few days.

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