Wednesday, 19 August 2009

19th August – Frustrating Day Ends Well!

Wednesday proved to be a bit of a frustrating one, especially in the morning when nothing seemed to fall into place, but luckily the afternoon drive was successful and allowed us to end the day on a good note!

I started the morning drive by following up on tracks for the leopard that had been in the camp during the night, but after following the tracks along Motswari’s entrance road for almost 4km, the tracks crossed off our traversing area. I was then looking for elephants, but there were none to be found, not even tracks! I checked the Mopane areas in the north to see if there were perhaps some bull elephants about, but come up empty handed.

I then turned my attention to some lion tracks that had come from near the lodge and headed south, but later turned back to the north; these tracks were for two of the Sohebele lions, but the tracks were lost when they went into an extremely rocky area. Not to worry, we went to try and track the three Mahlathini male lions, but after some time it got a bit late, and while the trackers were still on the tracks, we had to call it a morning. I then went to check an area where there had been tracks for a rhino and a herd of elephants, but as was the pattern of the morning, the animals evaded us; just one of those mornings I guess! Despite this, we still managed some sightings of zebra, two groups of buffalo bulls, impala, kudu, steenbok, duiker, warthogs and some hippos, as well as an array of birds at Mbali dam.

In the afternoon, I headed back to the south to try and find those elephants that were doing a good job of hiding! But they couldn’t hide forever, and we eventually managed to see a herd of elephants in the south north of Hide dam. It was a small breeding herd of about ten elephants that were feeding in the late afternoon light, and amongst them were two calves of only several months old!

I must have just missed a pair of rhinos that were later picked up on Western cutline, but I decided to head back north for some leopard. Kuhanya female leopard had been found early in the afternoon on Peru dam wall, and I arrived shortly after sunset as she was getting active. We followed her for a while, through some tricky bush, but we managed and were rewarded with a nice nocturnal sighting of her as she was hunting, often trotting along the road then dashing off into the bush unsuccessfully before returning to the road. We decided to leave her as she moved away from the empty Francolin pan.

Other sightings recorded for the afternoon included three buffalo at Trade entrance pan, a lone bull elephant opposite the lodge when we returned for dinner, and another report of a leopard in camp, this time the leopard was seen just behind the boma near the staff houses at about 17h30. The general game included kudu, impala, steenbok, Sharpe’s grysbok, giraffe, and a side –striped jackal. Giyani also found the young Sohebele lioness near Mvubu crossing. It is becoming a bit worrying that she is all on her own, and has been now for the last five days. This probably means that she has not eaten since Saturday, or perhaps even before, and walking the distances she currently is wont be doing her much good. We really need the three fractions of the Sohebele pride to come together again; otherwise the hole they were starting to dig themselves out of might just cave-in once more.

The sunny day ended with a bewildering night sky, and things look good for another nice sunny and warm day tomorrow. I just hope the lions decide to come out and play like they have been doing all month!

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