Sunday, 13 September 2009

11th September – Top Game Sightings Again!

Friday proved to be another really good day of game viewing at Motswari, particularly in the northern Timbavati where we ticked of twenty-one sightings of members of the big five sightings during the day, as well as a host of other wildlife.

I started off the morning drive by going to follow up on the breeding herd of buffalo that had been in camp last night, and after about ten minutes their tracks led to De Luca trough were we found the herd drinking in the slightly misty morning air. The herd finished drinking and soon disappeared into the mopane’s to the north.

Mbali female leopard was then relocated in the same place as the last two days, but two spotted hyenas had arrived and stolen what remained of her impala kill. I went to have a look, but they hyenas had already finished the carcass and were sitting in a small drainage line, covered in blood while Mbali lay 50m away grooming herself into a spotless condition once again. Once she had groomed, she got up and walked over to a tree not 6m from where I was parked and jumped up to look for a comfortable resting place, which proved not to be an easy task! She tried one of the tree’s forked trunks, then the other before deciding that the first one was the best and she jumped across the tree and settled down to rest just a few meters from us – a really great sighting.

We had really been struggling with giraffe the last few days, a strange feeling as we normally have a good number of the world’s tallest animal around, but they were proving harder than you can imagine to find! We eventually found a relaxed male giraffe for the guests and we enjoyed a sighting of him for a while before going for a cup of coffee on the southern end of Peru dam, with an elephant bull in the bushes nearby.

After coffee, I heard that Johannes had found another leopard nearby, but I went to go and find a nice breeding herd of elephants feeding in the sedges below Giraffe Kill lookout, we followed the herd as they meandered along the riverbed towards Mbali dam, and enjoyed watching the antics of the young bull elephants as they were playing fighting and attempting to ‘mate’ with one another (something all the buffalo bulls had been doing over the last few days too; clearly all trying to assert their dominance on the males being mounted!).

I had followed the elephants towards Mbali dam, having some nice close-up sightings as they wandered meters past the vehicle, and then went to go and see the leopard that Johannes had found; it was Kuhanya female leopard, and she had a small steenbok kill stashed high up in a leafy weeping boer-bean tree. Kuhanya was lying above the kill, but while it was a perfect tree to conceal a kill, it wasn’t very good for game viewing. We left her to it and headed back to camp, seeing a few more bull elephants near Argyle dam and our airstrip.

Other sightings from the other guides included a large herd of elephant near Confluence crossing, some buffalo bulls, zebra near camp, three fat Sohebele lions sleeping on Makulu dam wall! Yes, the three Sohebele lions, two males and one young female, had managed to make a kill during the night and were found sleeping with bulging stomachs and blood-covered fur! While their state didn’t put them in the mood to do anything besides occasionally roll over, it was really pleasing to hear that they had managed to get a good meal. I would guess that they perhaps killed one of the young waterbucks that frequent that area, as an impala would not have filled them up so much.

Afternoon drive, and it was nicely set up, but the very windy conditions didn’t do us any favours, and kept much of the general game away. We did see waterbuck, kudus and the like, but they were all trying to keep out of the wind. The three Sohebele lions were not, so I headed down towards Makulu dam where they had just moved down into the riverbed, and were once again very inactive, but nice to see them looking fat.

Kuhanya female leopard was still up the tree and not playing along very nicely for the photos, but late in the afternoon, she climbed down the tree and lay on the ground. I decided to go to see her after a windy sundowner, but as I was driving through Mvubu crossing up towards the sighting, I found her mother, Mbali female leopard. I followed Mbali for a while, and despite having spent the last two days on a kill, she was looking interested in some impala, so I decided to leave her to hunt on her own, especially as my guests had had six really good sightings of leopard over the last couple of days. I did go and check on Kuhanya, but she was nowhere to be found, so I headed back to camp as it started to drizzle. We did come across a breeding herd of elephant on the way home, and the breeding herd of buffalo was drinking at the camp again, but were moving off to the east when I returned back to base.

There were other recorded sightings of two buffalo bulls, four sightings of elephant bulls, and a breeding herd of elephant near Makulu dam. During the night, a group of eight elephants entered the camp to feed on the trees, much to the dismay of the gardener, as the elephants set about ring-barking and pushing over a couple of knobthorns and mopanes.

And that concluded another ‘tough’ day in the wonderful African bush!

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