Tuesday, 4 January 2011

2nd January - Rockfig Jnr and White Lions

Photo of the Day
Rockfig Jnr female leopard

Morning Drive
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Argyle, Great North Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Voel Dam Northern Access
2 x buffalo bulls – Jaydee, Khona Bobesi Rd
3 x buffalo bulls – Jaydee, Madala Crossing
1 x buffalo bull – Peru, Hippo Rocky Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing
2 x elephant bulls (fighting) – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Argyle Rd
1 x elephant bull, Peru, Voel Dam
3 x elephant bulls, Argyle, Argyle Rd

Afternoon Drive
5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride) – Vielmetter, Hide Dam Northern Access
1 x leopard (Rockfig Jnr female) – Vielmetter, Crossing Below Entrance Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Motswari, Hanger Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Argyle, Argyle Dam
1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, 2nd Sharalumi Crossing
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Lily Pan Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam
1 x buffalo bull – Peru, Sohebele Dam

Daily Synopsis
The day started off with a nice, pleasant covering of clouds that kept the summer heat away until after breakfast.  While the morning didn’t produce any sightings of large predators, it did provide for a lot of good large game sightings. 
I spent the first part of the morning in the north looking for any signs of the wild dogs that had been reported the day before, but came up empty handed on that front.  I did however find two separate breeding herds of buffalo wandering around.  The second was making its way towards Voel Dam, but as they got within visual distance of the dam, they veered off to the east.  There were also two separate, large elephant bulls in the area. 
From there I headed south hoping to find any sign of rhino, but without any luck.  The fact that Thumbela female leopard had been found in the far south also lured me there until she was lost.  While I was in the south, Rockfig Jnr female leopard was then located, but she too was lost heading down into the Machaton Riverbed, and despite checking the area, I came up empty handed. 
While there were several other groups of buffalo and elephant bulls around, the sighting of the morning definitely sounded to be the one that Godfrey had of two large elephant bulls, fully in musthe, having a full on fight next to his vehicle!  Judging by the enthusiasm with which Godfrey recounted the story, it definitely must rank up there amongst his most memorable sightings!
In the afternoon, Godfrey continued his exciting day when, after spending most of the day resting east of Hide Dam, the white lion pride awoke late in the evening and wandered over to where Godfrey had stopped for a sundowner drink.  On seeing the pride approaching, he got his guests back into the vehicle, hoping that the lions would simply walk past.  However, the lure of the table full of drinks proved too much for the young male lion, and he came over to investigate, as did one of the mothers.  After examining the table, the lioness grabbed the table cloth and pulled it off, sending the drinks flying everywhere, and ran off into the bush, leaving Godfrey without a table cloth!!!

Xakubasa Pride sleeping and playing before going to steal Godfrey's table cloth!
Besides that, Rockfig Jnr was relocated near Entrance Dam and several of the Motswari Guides got to see her as she actively patrolled her territory, scent-marking and calling regularly; I am wondering if she is not coming back into estrus? 
Rockfig Jnr on the move patrolling and scent-marking
Johannes and Marka also great sightings of two separate breeding herds of elephant near camp and at Argyle Dam – some with tiny new born babies and other drinking and playing in the dam.  Being an extremely hot afternoon, several buffalo bulls were located resting in the waterholes, and Johannes saw a large breeding herd of elephants near Machella Pan.
a young hyena at the Rockfig Clan's den site
All in all it was another very good day of game viewing at Motswari!

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