Sunday, 26 December 2010

25th December: Christmas Day!

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.
Elephant ( 1 x Kambaku) / Motswari – Verandah.
Elephant ( 1 x Kambaku) / Argyle – Long Road.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / DeLuca – Timbavati/ Umbabat Cutline.
Leopard ( Argyle Male) / Motswari – Verandah.
Leopard ( Shongile) / Motswari – Sean's Clearing.
Leopard ( Kuhanya) / Peru – Malonga Road.
Leopard ( Ntombi) / Vielmieter – Jaydee Access.
Lion ( Jacaranda Four) / Karans – Maghambi Dam.

Afternoon Drive.
Leopard ( Argyle Male) / DeLuca – DeLuca Access.
Lion ( Jacaranda Four) / Karans – Maghambi Dam.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Karans – Kudu Pan Clearing.

Daily Synopsis.

The day couldn't have gotten off to a better start with an early Christmas present awaiting everyone at morning coffee. While sitting on the verandah before drive a large bull Elephant drifted up the riverbed in front of all the chalets slowly and methodically feeding on the grass on the opposite bank. The peaceful scene was suddenly interrupted by the alarm calls of Vervet Monkeys that seek the shelter of the large trees along the riverbank. We didn't rush to investigate as we had just seen a Hyena earlier on skulking around the area,  we did however check to confirm our suspicions. On investigating we discovered that we, or should I say, “I”, was mistaken, for instead of a Hyena there walked a large male Leopard slowly across the riverbed. From his style of walk, backed up by his sheer size, it could only be one, Argyle Male! We gulped down coffee while making our way hastily to the car in an attempt to catch up with our early Christmas gift. Argyle Male is notorious for moving swiftly and can be very elusive when he wants, this was to be one of those times as we could not relocate him. He had eluded us, not even leaving a track that we may follow up on. Thankfully there were a number of witnesses to his crossing of the river as the lack of any sign of him would have led me to doubt his actual presence and the thought that he may have been merely a figment of my imagination. After the initial excitement of the morning, things slowed considerably and it seemed that we were following up on a number of tracks without much joy. It got worse when we received the news that the White Lions were seen crossing into Klaserie and out of our traversing area, chasing after their favoured food, Giraffe! Amazing how the bush can seemingly be so quite yet be set on fire so suddenly, all it needs is a little spark. In this case it came in the form of Ntombi being found  in the South, suddenly all the tracks that were being followed up on led to success, and some!

Elliot successfully tracked down Kuhanya as well as finding Shongile along the way. It would appear the family was gathering for Christmas as both these females are Argyle Males daughters and all three of them were in very close proximity. Not to be left out, Herald located the Jacaranda Four resting on a dam wall, I guess these Lions anticipated another scorcher. It is nice that they have remained in the area, I guess not coming under any pressure from other Lions they may visit more regularly, dare I say settle? Just for good measure the morning was wrapped off nicely with a breeding herd of Elephant. The afternoon drive started in very different conditions, as the toll of the passed three day's heat combined with the moisture about, built up some spectacular looking Cumuli Nimbus clouds on the horizon, and with the wind picking up a dark front was speedily approaching. Our guests were a little hesitant to go out, but after a little persuasion and reassurance that we would stick around camp and the moment it started to rain heavily we would return, we were “A for away”, or should that be “A” for Argyle Male!

If the morning was anything to go by we would not have to travel far from camp anyway! Not getting five minutes out of camp I received a message that Argyle Male had in fact been found not far away, heading to the sighting it looked like it was going to be a race against the weather as it was getting extremely dark and the distant rumble of thunder was no longer distant! Lets just say we'll call it a tie, as on arriving in the sighting it started to spit with rain. While we followed him it got progressively harder with lightening and thunder adding to the atmosphere, but no one seemed to notice as we watched this magnificent specimen. As is Argyle Male's nature he walked us through some very thick and rough terrain that included negotiating some tricky drainage lines and a steep riverbed. All in all, it was not only a wonderful sighting but a great adventure that the weather only added to and enhanced, and by the end of it we hadn't even noticed that we were sopping wet. Not thinking that we would top our little adventure we decided to return to the dry comfort of the camp for a little R&R.

While the majority of us sook shelter Herald persevered and managed to catch up with the Jacaranda Four again, as well as finding a nice breeding herd of Elephant. Well worth staying out for by the sounds of it and making us regret returning a little early, only a little though! Hope that you all had as wonderful a day filled with adventure, to much to eat, fun and a little rest!

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