Monday, 24 January 2011

23rd January: Great Expectations.

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.

Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Horizon Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Vielmieter – Sweetwater Pan.

Afternoon Drive.

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Woza Woza Cutline.

Daily Synopsis.

Being spoilt over the last couple of months with plentiful game and the most amazing sightings, makes this quite period seem that much more magnified. We know things can change overnight and wake up every morning with high expectations, this morning was no different. Needing to find Lion I reverted to my tactic that has gained me the nickname, Cutline, as I drive all the boundaries looking for tracks that may have crossed into our traversing area, hoping to get lucky. This morning was not to be and we covered the entire perimeter only finding one Elephant, one Buffalo and a nice herd of Giraffe with a scattered herd of Zebra in amongst them, but otherwise it was very still on the mammal front. The birds however didn't disappoint this morning and we racked up a decent list of summer migrants and a few noteworthy raptors, Tawny Eagle, Black Breasted & Brown Snake Eagles, Steppe Buzzard, Wahlbergs Eagle and a group of White Backed Vultures.

It would appear Murphy is not done with us yet and again cast his Law, with us finding Lion tracks in the central section on our way back to camp. Having lived my entire life with it hanging over my head I've learnt how to deal with it, in this case, at least we have somewhere to start this afternoon and should keep us entertained for a good few hours.

Heading out on drive there was the ever present threat of heavy rain that fortunately did not materialise and allowed us to go about our business. Heading straight for the Lion tracks I dropped off Tiyani and Petros to try and follow up, this would be the third time in less than a week that we were tracking the same Lions walking nearly the identical route, and on all three previous occasions we were unsuccessful as they crossed out of our traversing area. I left them to do what they do best while I went about looking for any other creatures great or small. It was not long before we found ourselves a nice herd of Zebra, followed by another herd and yet another herd a little further on, bringing my total count in one drive to in and around the number I must have seen the whole of last year.

While watching one of these herds we were also fortunate enough to have a sighting of two Kori Bustards, the worlds heaviest flying bird. After which we set off to visit a herd of Elephant near Sohobele Plains, hoping to catch them out in the open. Finished with the Elephant Johannes joined Petros and Tiyani in trying to track down our elusive Lions. Whilst tracking they discovered they were in fact not only looking for two Lionesses but also their five cubs, as they found an area they all had been resting during the morning, with the smaller tracks of the cubs present. Well at least we knew who we were looking for now, the Jacaranda Pride, we also knew they are notoriously difficult to track, undeterred the guys continued their quest. I in turn arrived with the Elephant that were spread out over a vast distance feeding, but from my estimates there must have been between seventy and a hundred Elephant of varying ages, size and sex.

Every where you turned there were Elephant, so we just stopped, switched off and allowed ourselves to be enveloped into the herd. They were extremely relaxed and fed around the vehicle less than three metres away only acknowledging our presence by the occasional trunk lift and sniff, otherwise they totally ignored us. Putting my bias towards Elephant aside, it was a magnificent sighting and a totally humbling experience, one I know I will remember for many years. Having lost all sense of time during our experience we finally left them as the light faded away, nearly spending an hour amongst them. We strategically took our drinks stop on the opposite side of the river overlooking the plain so we could continue to watch our gentle giants as they ambled about slowly feeding.  

After drinks our attention drifted back to the Lionesses and cubs, not really minding whether we found them or not any more. Again time did us in though as apparently the guys were very close to finding them, but it was now nearly dark and we have a policy of not viewing Lion cubs after dark under the spotlight. So yet again the Jacaranda Pride had eluded us, but on a positive note they seem to be venturing into our traversing area on a more regular basis, leaving us with every opportunity of finding them tomorrow.

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