Friday, 14 January 2011

13th January: Puzzle Pieces!

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.

Leopard ( Kuhanya) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip.
Lion ( Jacaranda Male and Female) / Argyle – Horizon Road.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Great North.
Buffalo ( 2 x Dagha Boys) / Argyle -
Buffalo ( 2 x Dagha Boys) / Argyle – Buffalo Pan Road.

Afternoon Drive.

Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Lion ( Jacaranda Four) / Arglye – Bunny Road.
Lion ( Jacaranda Male & Female) / Argyle – Horizon Road.
Leopard ( Argyle Male) / Peru – Sohobele Dam.

Daily Synopsis.

After another night filled with the sounds of the Jacaranda Male roaring on our airstrip we gathered at morning coffee and discussed what possibly could be up with him as he had not moved in nearly three days, and we believed that we would find him in exactly the same position when we headed out on drive. Not suffering any visible injury and no kill to keep him in the same place, his behaviour had us baffled, what also added to the mystery was that his brother had not responded to any of his calls. Heading directly in his direction once on drive, the three of us were somewhat surprised not to find him in his usual spot. Splitting up we set about tracking him, but before we got far Chad found Kuhanya on the Southern end of the airstrip up in a Marula Tree.

She was waiting patiently for a herd of Impala that was feeding close by to move below the tree. She kept exceptionally still, not flinching a muscle as the Impala edged to within twenty five metres, at which point they must have got wind of her and some began alarm snorting. They had not yet seen her but it was not long before they found her up in the tree, at which point all of them approached on a front and all begun alarm calling, letting her know her position had been compromised.


Having been exposed Kuhanya climbed down the tree and moved off North seemingly marking her territory, but after following her a while we noticed that she was circling around possibly trying to approach them from another angle.

We left her to her business and got back to the matter at hand, tracking the Jacaranda Male. We found the spot where he had been lying and fresh tracks to the North, but having spent considerable time with Kuhanya we had left it to late and the Jacaranda Male had got mobile across the boundary and into Ingwelala. Having come North West we continued on our way and it would not be long before another surprise lay around the corner in the form of the Jacaranda Males brother. It all quickly became very clear why he had not responded to his brothers calls. There before us we found him mating with a Jacaranda Female, one of the three that was missing from two days prior when we found the two females and the five cubs, it all made sense now and all the pieces of the puzzle fell swiftly into place. Strange how nature always has a knack for doing that!  

The rest of the morning was relatively quite for Chad and myself, adding only Buffalo to our tally, plus a Ele. Herald on the other hand had a morning filled with a variety of general game that included Zebra, remind me, is that the one with the black and white stripes, as I've not seen a donkey in pyjama's in little over two weeks.

The afternoon started with me taking all three trackers, Jacky, Petros and Patrick, off to the West to follow up on some Lion tracks that we had found late in the morning and were not able to follow up on, while Herald and Chad set off in search of the great grey giant ( Elephant). Dropping the trackers off I did not venture far as we thought it would not take long to find them, and for once we were correct. Getting a call ten minutes later to let me know they had found the Jacaranda Four, I turned around and it was not long before we all sat beside the four of them. They are nice Lions to view as they seem to be more active than most and at least one always has a head up, they also often get up to readjust their resting position, so there is always some sort of activity or another.

Jacaranda Four
As the male Lions in the pride are adolescents we headed off to visit the adult Jacaranda Male mating with the female so as to illustrate the difference between the two. They both had moved into a more open position from this morning, but he was still a little shy on our approach, crouching down into a defensive position. Once we stopped moving and gave him his space and time, he settled to almost not paying us any attention. Waiting a while to see if we could witness them mating, he finally approached her in a half hearted attempt, to which she rolled over onto her back and smacked him with her paw letting him know she was not in the mood. This behaviour usually indicates the end of the mating period, or honeymoon, should you wish to use that term.

Mating Jacaranda lions

Leaving them to settle their domestic, we headed on in search of Leopard. Herald had found tracks for Elephant but they had him travelling all over the place and he eventually ran out of time before finding them. Oh well, there is always tomorrow! Chad had less fortune than Herald but his drive was peacefully relaxing, filled with appreciating the smaller things out there. Well that was until he found Argyle Male just before arriving back at camp, don't think you can use small to describe him, and I'm not to sure about peaceful either, although he has seemed to become far more relaxed with the vehicles and our presence. From what Chad recounted to me, it sounded like a great sighting. Our search for Leopard continues tomorrow, while I'm sure Chad and Herald will be back on the trail of the great grey giants. 
Argyle Male

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