Saturday, 23 October 2010

"Raining Cat's and Dog's!"

Hello hello, time flies when you having fun. Finished driving this work spell but had a great week to finish it off, so not quite sure where to it start off, so much to tell you. We did not expect the sightings to be that good as the weather had turned on us and it was now not only cold but also very windy, as you all know not your ideal game viewing conditions. In the name of continuity I guess a good place to kick off would be to lead with the theme of last weeks blog, our Lions.

Following the Mahlatini's Giraffe Kill, they moved off slowly back to the North West and finally exited our traversing area three days later, I guess it would take that long when you trying to transport a giraffe in your belly.

So again we faced the prospect of being Lionless for the next couple days. Boy were we ( royal we) wrong! No sooner had the Mahlatini's left, they were back again, this time killing a baby buffalo on Argyle Road, by the time we had discovered them they had devoured it. I'm not sure where these three big males fit everything in, but needless to say they spent the rest of the day and the following morning sleeping off their indigestion before moving off again.

At the same time part of the Ross Pride had also made a kill on Argyle Road a little, it's all relative, further South, near the old access gate. They had used the road surface to their advantage in catching a young giraffe that clearly slipped on the surface and come to its demise alongside the road, where four hungry Lionesses now fed on it. We did not see the rest of the pride which must have still been somewhere in the far South, as the pride has an extremely large territory.

At this point we were well content with the number of Lion we had in the area, given the past couple weeks. What's the saying, “when it rains, it pours”, as during the week we were also visited by members of three other prides, two large Lionesses at Mkombi Pan in the West. The guys say they belong to the Ross Pride, but I'm not a hundred percent sold, a couple things bother me, firstly how much they resemble members of the White Lion Pride, otherwise known as The Timbavati Pride. Secondly, the direction they came from and left in. I think they could possibly be members of the Timbavati Pride but I have been known to be wrong and will have to phone a friend on this one, so decision pending!

From the East we had two adolescent males and two females pop in that nobody has any idea who they are and where they come from, as it was the first time that any of us have seen this pride. They clearly have been around vehicles as they were not shy in any way, well, except one of the Males. They stuck around for four days and then drifted off to the North East.

We also had a large Male Lion visit from the North, that we suspect is one of the Mpela Mpela Males, or should that be Buchner Males, who now spends his time on Ingwelala, but I'm sure “The Chad” will be able to advise us!

The phrase, “ raining cats and dogs”, would literally best describe this last week. Before I get everyone's hopes up, no the summer rains have not arrived, although they have being teasing us. It's more a referral to the number of cats we saw, not only the Lions but also the great Leopard sightings. In the North we had Voeldam Male with an Impala kill literally a kilometre from camp again.

Mbali and Kuhanya also were found on a number of occasions.

In the South, Ntombi had made an Impala kill that kept her busy for a couple of days. We got to spend some quality time with her and her cub, and I'm glad to report that it looks like the cut on her foot is healing and that her cub is becoming far more relaxed around the vehicle, specially if he is given his space. To give you a better idea of of how spoilt we are for Leopard sightings, on the Saturday afternoons drive you had the choice of four different Leopard sightings, Vyeboom Male, Mbali, Kuhanya or Ntombi and Cub, you take your pick.

I digress though, back to “raining cats and dogs”, more specifically the “Dogs”! We were again graced by the pack of ten Wild dogs for a period of five days, I wonder if we can consider them to be semi residents. Having them for an extended time we got to see them in various stages of action, from sleeping off the afternoon heat in a drainage line, to refreshing themselves at one of the dams.

On one particular drive we were able to spend nearly the entire game drive following them, as they seemingly accepted us into the pack and revealed there many intricacies, all culminating in a successful hunt, killing a Duiker. It was a fascinating afternoon and rates up there in my top five of all time.

Saved this next story for last as it was an unbelievable day and am sure it won't be repeated any time soon, if ever! For what is about to follow, I'm sorry Chad, I know you hate missing out! It started as all Monday mornings in the bush, no one knowing it was Monday, apologies game ranger humour, I'll get back to the story. We set off as usual checking around Motswari and the Northern sections. As is Godfrey's style he took things extra slow, stopping to take the morning in. During one of these particular moments at Argyle Dam, off in the distance appeared three slender silhouettes, that as they approached took on more and more the sleek athletic form of Cheetah, could it really be, this far North, in an area that was far from open veld and the Cheetahs preferred habitat? Sure enough though, there they were, three Cheetahs on the prowl. As cool as a cucumber, Godfrey called it in as if it were as common as Impala and totally natural, I had to double check that I'd heard correctly. Thanks to him we all spent the morning watching the three of them go through their daily activities of rest, hunt, drink and eat!

Yes, some were fortunate enough to see them catch a scrub hare, which clearly didn't go far between three, we watched as they stalked Impala but somewhere along the line they lost interest and took to resting, being adolescents I guess the attention and conviction weren't quite there. Not a bad way to get a Monday morning started and to hopefully set the standard for the week. ( The following photo's are compliments of a guest at Motswari.)

Not long after the cheetah were found Marka found another of our spotted friends, Mbali, add this to the peaceful herd of Elephant and our battle beaten camp Dagha boys you had the makings of an exceptional morning! The afternoon was not to disappoint either and was a very busy one. With the sightings of the Wild dog and the two foreign Lionesses that I described above dominating the proceedings. While we were sitting with the Lionesses we received news that four Rhinos were heading our way, as we had not seen Rhino in some time we responded. In failing light and off on a distant hill we could make out two greyish looking termite mounds with what looked like a dwarf mongoose sitting on each, had they not moved to present themselves laterally we would have never have known otherwise! I add this for you Chad, hopefully soften the blow, because if you have been counting, which no doubt you have, you would realise that would be the “Big Seven” in the course of a days game drives!

We found the Cheetah the following two days and I hear they found them again today, being Friday, on an Impala kill. Sticking with great news I received word that the White Lions were seen feeding on a Giraffe Kill in the very far North West. Unfortunately a long, long way from us but most importantly they were all together, looking strong and in great shape!

I will be heading off on my leave during the course of next week so things will be a little quite on the blog front, but I'll be sure to update you on all the happenings on my return, till then you all take care!

p.s. Chad best you visit De Wild ( Cheetah Breeding Centre) if you want to get those Cheetah sightings on par. Looking forward to catching you in the bush again!



1 comment:

  1. im not too sure i like how often you mention my name in this report....its almost as if you are trying to prove something??? hahahaha, man, what a killer week!!!! and three relaxed cheetahs in the north, man that is unheard of! wild dogs still around, so many different lion prides...if i was you i would send me a big cheque to make sure i dont actually come up on tuesday and chase all of the animals off!!! damn, i really get depressed reading this stuff while i am in joburg studying....but in 48 hours i'll be on my way there, so be sure to have some beers in the fridge!

    thanks for the update, looking forward to seeing all all soon....just pretyy please keep the wild dogs there for me (i do not doubt that their presence and the number of cheetah sightings this year are related to a relative 'lack' of lions, or more correctly the fact that there is no resident pride in the north...

    and may it please keep on raining for the next 2 weeks!

    see you soon mate