Tuesday, 30 June 2009

29th & 30th June – Big 6!

The last two days at Motswari have been pretty good, and produced sightings of not only the Big 5, but also the elusive wild dog!

Monday morning started off with a lion roaring near the camp at about 4 am, but unfortunately we tracked the three Mahlathini male lions from right opposite the camp and off the property to the north. A bit further south, the large herd of buffalo had been relocated, still milling around the same area as the previous few days. There was the odd sighting of some elephant bulls, but it was the Nhlangula male rhino found on Vielmeter property that was the highlight of the morning. This male rhino was at least standing up today, but as with yesterday’s sighting, he was not overly active! Still, it was great to see him in the open and get some nice photographs of him.
Monday afternoon belonged to Rockfig and Nkateko leopards, as they were found with an impala kill up a marula tree not far from Hide Dam. All of our vehicles got to see these two leopards, although it was a bit disheartening to see that both leopards were nursing injuries. Rockfig had a fresh flesh wound on her right ear, possibly inflicted by her very own daughter, as the two leopards were seen fighting with one another early in the afternoon. Nkateko had an older injury, but it was not a pretty sight; she has a rather large and deep wound on the side of her face, and it appears to have occurred a couple of weeks ago, the cause of the injury is unknown. It is not lie-threatening, but it does look saw, and was weeping and still bleeding, although she thankfully wasn’t showing any signs of discomfort. Still, despite being upset at seeing their injuries, he two provided for good viewing. Nkateko was up in the marula feeding on what was left of the impala, and aggressively hissing at her mom whenever she wandered too close to the tree, looking for scraps! Rockfig gave Nkateko some of her own medicine when Nkateko came over to embrace mom but was greeted with a snarl. Rockfig eventually returned to some left over scraps about 50m to the east and started feeding on that, while Nkateko took advantage of her mom’s free handouts – and based on that day’s hostilities, we have to wander how much longer their relationship will last? Other sightings included hyena, African wild cat, elephant and the herd of buffalo.

Tuesday was another very good day, and started off with a nice herd of elephant in the company of a large bull. This individual soon took exception to our presence and it showed as he charged towards the vehicle! Luckily it was only a threat display, but his antics sent the herd running off. A bit later, Palence found the six members of the Sohebele pride of lions wandering around north of Madash dam. They were on a mission and were followed moving through the bush until they settled down a couple of kilometers away. Johannes picked up on a few hyenas running around, and saw them finishing off an impala carcass, and when I heard this, my first though was that there might be some wild dogs around, and sure enough, minutes later, Steve found tracks for a pack of wild dogs, and they were located not 500m from where the lions had settled down. The dogs themselves had also settled down for the day, and didn’t make up for their lost meal, but instead chose to rest for the day. Other sightings of the morning included a group of seven bull elephants, and Herald found Nkateko female leopard in the same marula tree as last night, although the kill was finished. Johannes also found Kuhanya female leopard west of Madash dam late in the morning. Giraffe, waterbuck, some beautiful male kudu’s, warthog, hippo, and impala all made an appearance too!

In the afternoon, the wild dogs were found resting in the same place, and later got up and managed to kill an impala west of Karans camp. Godfrey was around and saw some of the feeding, I unfortunately missed the action, although I did bump into a few members of the pack on the way home, but as it was dark, I didn’t follow them. Only four members of the Sohebele pride were seen in the same place they were left this morning, but they must have moved off, and I had no luck finding them later in the evening. The buffalo herd was found slowly moving towards Voël dam, and Steve also saw some lone buffalo bulls near the lions. Palence had four buffalo and a small herd of elephant drinking in front of the lodge just after we set off for drive. Palence also had a short sighting of Argyle Jnr female leopard, but she seemed nervous and was not pursued through the bush.

So, with lions, leopards, buffalo, rhino and elephant being ticked off over the last two days, we were all delighted, but to have the wild dogs around was a special treat, and we hope we can find them again tomorrow!

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