Monday, 14 September 2009

12th September – Return of the Rhino’s!

I really needed to see a rhino this morning, and was pretty confident that Nhlangula male rhino would return to his favourite area around Sweetwater pan or Nkombi pan, but before I could get down that side, Elliot found a male rhino in the central region, so I thought I would go and have a look at that rhino instead.

Unfortunately the rhino that Elliot found was very skittish, and he evaded Elliot who decided not to follow him through the Mopane thicket that he ran into, but I went to the area to check in any case, and soon found him standing next to the road, so I immediately stopped and turned off the vehicle at about 60m away. The rhino stood still for a minute but moved off as I rolled forward. I decided to try and take my guests into the sighting on foot, and thought we would have a better chance of getting a good sighting, especially as the wind was in our favour. I was wrong. We relocated him on foot, but he lay down behind a bush, and as we tried to reposition to get a better view, he must have heard us and was up and running in the opposite direction in a flash, so I gave up. Herald did manage to find the rhino again, but had to keep his distance.

I was going to try and track two other rhinos whose tracks had been walking south along western cut line, (after rhino tracks from our airstrip headed north off the property), but while making my way there and stopping for some nice zebra and a beautiful new-born giraffe, perhaps two-weeks old at the most, I got a radio call telling me that the relaxed Nhlangula male rhino had been found north of Nkombi pan. I didn’t have to think twice about heading in that direction, and arrived as he stood about contemplating whatever it is that rhinos contemplate about when they are not sleeping or grazing! This male rhino is becoming exceedingly relaxed, and is more than a fitting substitute for our old friend Mtenga-tenga, a male rhino that we haven’t seen for some time now.

I also saw a lone bull elephant this morning near Vyboom dam, and Elliot found the three Sohebele lions sleeping in the exact same spot we left them last night! I just laughed; they reached the height of laziness with their full bellies! Elliot also saw a large breeding herd of elephants near Elephant crossing.

The afternoon was a very good one too for our guests, three different lion sightings to choose from, leopard, buffalo and lots of elephant.

The afternoon started off with Elliot finding the three Mahlathini male lions just to the north of Motswari camp on the wedge, and he followed one of them towards some vultures and down into the Sohebele riverbed where there was a half-eaten buffalo carcass! Two of the male lions were resting a bit to the west of the kill, full bellied after a good feed, and the third was on the opposite side of the carcass, resting on the riverbank about 80m from the kill. Later in the evening Andrew went to have a look and they were lying around the carcass, but they weren’t feeding. The carcass was not in accessible location, so we had to view it from about 35m away.

Elliot then carried on and spotted two of the Sohebele lions as they made their way towards the trough in front of Karan’s camp, but he viewed them from a distance. It was the adult lioness and her one son. The other three Sohebele lions were still sleeping in the riverbed below Makulu dam wall, but they had moved into the sedge’s, so the visual was very poor.’

I didn’t go to see any of those lions; instead I went to have a look at Mbali female leopard who had been found near Mangwa clearing. On the way I passed a feeding bull elephant near Argyle dam, and a small breeding herd of elephant feeding in the Sohebele riverbed near Flooded crossing. I arrived at the leopard sighting after dark, as Mbali lay watching some impala. After a few minutes she snuck closer in typical leopard fashion, but the impalas moved off, then so did Mbali. I relocated her once more as she was stalking a duiker, so turned the lights off. A minute later both the duiker and the leopard were gone, so I gave up and went to have a drink.

I heard that Kuhanya female leopard had been seen not far north of Mbali’s earlier position, so I went to check the area, but saw no sign of her, although I did see three buffalo bulls feeding at Concrete crossing, as well as two separate hyenas on the way back to camp.

Andrew enjoyed a nice sighting of a big breeding herd of elephant near Tamboti wallow, and there were another two buffalo bulls seen. Arriving back at camp, there was an elephant at the waterhole; all in a days work I guess!

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