Friday, 7 January 2011

6th January – Jacaranda Pride walks through camp!

Photo of the Day
Hyenas fighting over the remains of a dead buffalo

Morning Drive
4 x lions (Jacaranda Pride) – Peru, Boolala Rd
2 x leopards (Rockfig Jnr and Thumbela with impala kill) – Vielmetter, Vielmetter Access
2 x elephant bulls – Peru, Hamerkop Rd
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Peru Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Karans, Western Cutline
4 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Nhlaru Rd

Afternoon Drive
4 x lions (Jacaranda Pride) – Peru, Boolala Rd
3 x lions (Mahlathini males with a buffalo kill) – Peru, Hippo Rocky Rd
2 x leopards (Rockfig Jnr and Thumbela with an impala kill) – Vielmetter, Vielmetter Access
1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Peru, Old Gate Link
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Java Dam
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Motswari, Airstrip
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Peru, Concrete Crossing
2 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Argyle Dam

Daily Synopsis
After the 16mm of rain that fell last night, and continued falling during morning coffee, the outlook for the day looked a bit dull, but most of the guests braved the conditions and those that did were well rewarded!
It didn’t take us long to pick up some fresh tracks for lions; about 2 seconds to be exact!  I had literally driven 10m from the reception when Petros told me there were lion tracks there!  The tracks were followed through the camp and past the camp dam, back to the airstrip and then to the west.  Elliot didn’t take long to eventually track them down a few kilometres south-west of the camp, and it turned out to be the four Jacaranda lions.  It was a welcome return for this pride that have been out of the area for the last couple of weeks (although they were reported at De Luca camp last week).  The two lionesses were their usual relaxed selves, and just lay in the open in the rain, while the older sub-adult male remained a bit hesitant of the vehicles.  The second young male was much more at ease, and a lot more active walking about sniffing the air before eventually going to lie with the lionesses.  That was about all they did for the morning, but it was still great to see them again, and they definitely seem to be making the north-eastern corner of the reserve their home.

Jacaranda Pride in the rain

Unfortunately the other lions were not as obliging, and tracks for both the Mahlathini males and the Xakubasa Pride left the Timbavati and crossed the main Argyle Rd into Klaserie.  We sincerely hope that they won’t be gone for too long!
Other sightings of the morning included a couple of sightings of elephant bulls around the reserve, some buffalo bulls, and my highlight of the morning, a pack of 5 spotted hyenas feeding on the bare remains of a dead buffalo; that sighting alone made it worth getting wet for!

Hyenas eating an old buffalo carcass
I tried to look for any signs of the wild dogs, but had no luck.  Down south though, Elliot was a bit luckier when he was in the area after the southern stations found Rockfig Jnr and Thumbela heading back to a large female impala kill that she had stashed in an apple-leaf tree.
The hard work of the morning set up the afternoon very nicely, and totally took the pressure of me – a pressure I was feeling as I only had guests visiting for one night!  Yet, despite this morning’s sightings, it was not those animals that were the focus of my drive.  I went to see what the Jacaranda lions were doing while Godfrey and Johannes headed south for the leopards.  The lions were unsurprisingly sleeping, so I didn’t spend a great deal of time with them.  Instead I went to relocate a ‘small’ herd of elephants on Peru Entrance Rd.  It turned out to be a gathering of seemingly three different herds and over 50 elephants around Concrete Crossing and made for a fantastic elephant sighting as the herd moved, fed, fought and played in the open.
Encounters with the elephant herd!
A bit further along the road, Mbali female leopard had been found sleeping up a large marula tree, but by the time I arrived, she was mobile and looking to hunt, so we followed her for some time before she settled under a small mopane shrub.  Her wound on her tail was still looking the same, but does not seem to be affecting her too much; despite looking like she could do with a good meal.
The awesome Mbali!
Leopard tracks in the mud
In the south, Rockfig Jnr and Thumbela were still around their impala kill, and Johannes found a large breeding herd of buffalo drinking at Java Dam.  I didn’t venture anywhere near there, choosing instead, like all of our guides, to go and visit the three Mahlathini male lions who had managed to kill a young buffalo and were found feeding on that in the afternoon – so much for them having left the area!
Mahlathini male lions with their latest buffalo kill!
Heading back to camp, I added bushbaby, a breeding herd of buffalo, and a large-spotted genet to my list of impala, giraffe, kudu, steenbok and dwarf mongooses already seen this afternoon.

So all in all, considering the rain last night, the intermittent rain through the day, and ever present threat of a heavy downpour, the day turned out to be a wonderful reminder of what makes Motswari and the Timbavati such a fantastic place!
Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

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