Wednesday, 23 February 2011

22nd February: Q & A!

Pic of the day.

Morning Drive.

( Grant, Godfrey & Marka)

Lion ( 2 x Mahlatini Males) / Mbali – Antheap Corner Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Motswari Southern Access.
Elephant ( Kambaku)
Leopard ( Unknown Male) / Mbali – Aardvark Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Godfrey & Chad)

Lion ( 2 x Mahlatini Males) / Mbali – Antheap Corner Rd.
Elephant ( 2 x Kambaku's) / Argyle – Argyle dam.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Elephant Dam Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Vielmieter – Elephant Dam Rd.
Rhino ( 2 x Unknown Females) / Vielmieter – Elephant Dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Vielmieter – Sweetwater Pan.
Leopard ( Shongile's Other Brother) / Motswari – Airstrip Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

On reaching my vehicle before drive I received news they had already found the two Mahlatini Males heading in a South Easterly direction from their position the night before. They had been located by audio and apparently had been calling throughout the night. Having not had a good visual the evening before, Jacky and I decided to head in their direction. Marka was still on a mission to find Leopard, and he had left camp sometime earlier trying to buy himself time, as it was his guests last drive. Godfrey was his ever relaxed self and set off in search of the many grey giants that had frequented the area the previous afternoon. Arriving at the Mahlatini's, they were still highly mobile through some very thickly vegetated areas, this struck us as strange, as the night before it appeared the one male could barely walk, it left us wondering how had he made a miraculous recovery overnight! Fortunately this question and another posed last night were quickly answered, as we got visual of them walking through an open clearing. It was in fact only the one darker manned male from the night before and his now no longer missing brother. They must have all come together during the night and headed off to the South east, along the way “Golden Boy” must have fallen behind and hence the continual calling trying to regroup. He no doubt is following behind and will catch up with them when they go to rest. As is the Mahlatini's MO, they never wander far from one another and realise their strength lies in their coalition. When we left them they were still partially mobile, not being able to settle, but continually walking short distances interspersed with static grooming breaks.

The rest of our morning was fairly quite, we did however add a nice herd of Zebra and Giraffe to our tally.  

Marka's morning sounded the epitome of frustration, with him finding multiple Leopard tracks, but on each occasion he came up empty handed. Eventually resigning that it was not meant to be, he responded to the Mahlatini's, trying to salvage what was left of his morning. Apparently fate was not done with him though and on his way he bumped into a unknown male Leopard. From his description it was not a fantastic sighting as it swiftly walked out of sight behind a very thick bush. His guests however thought it was fantastic, living up to all their expectations. They got to see their Leopard, I guess sometimes we take our high quality sightings for granted. Godfrey's morning sounded as frustrating as Marka's, not that you would ever be able to tell with Godfrey. It appeared the Elephant where giving him the run around, as no sooner had he moved away from an area than someone would call in a herd there, and when responding he would arrive in the area to find they had moved off, more than likely to where he had just come from. He clearly was having one of those drives, but I'll be sure to follow him around this afternoon, as when he bounces back, it is always in a big way!

Facing another scorcher we once again stuck to our game plan of keeping to the water for the initial part of the drive. It paid off once again like it had done the day before, with a great sighting at Argyle Dam. On approaching the dam we saw two Kambaku's, one feeding on the far bank and the other on an island in the middle of the dam. While sitting there, the island Elephant began kicking and churning up a muddy water mixture, that he proceeded to spray all over himself. If this was not good enough he then dropped to his knees and began rolling in the mud, covering his entire body in a layer of mud. He had clearly not thought this through properly, because he would have to swim back to the mainland and all his effort would be washed away. On entering the water, he could not help himself and began playing about, submerging himself and re-amerging splashing water all over the place. With the nearby hippos in the frame and calling out their warnings it would have made for the perfect picture, but this is when my battery would die on me, Murphy's Law! I passed on the good news to my guests that we were in for an amazing afternoon filled with plenty of picture perfect moments!  

Looking for Leopard we now found ourselves in the same boat as Marka, we too decided to stay in the North fancying our chances with the reappearance of one of our many residents. Criss crossing the area, I contacted fellow guides to find out were everybody was checking so as not to waste time on duplication. I soon found out this was unnecessary as everyone had headed South and we were the only one's left in the North. Jacky and I joked that they all would have a long way to travel when we found our Leopard and they would be sorry they strayed so far. The laughter had not yet died and Giyani went ahead and burst our bubble, he found not one, but two Rhino's at Elephant Dam! I could not have been further away if I tried, ok maybe if I was coming from Jo'burg, but that would even be a toss up. Um'ing and Ah'ing, we finally came to the decision to take a chance and head South, would hate to be left out after all! To cut a long story short, it worked out very well for us, arriving shortly before sunset in the beautiful light that is cast as the sun goes down, making for great photography. Add to this, very well behaved subjects, so much so, you would be forgiven if you thought they had been trained to stand in the perfect position at the perfect time, and I sat there only able to take mental pictures! Spending the best part of sundown with them we headed off as the light began to fail us. Godfrey had himself a relaxed drive, slowly ticking off all his afternoons wants. Chad joined us for the afternoon, and after visiting the Mahlatini's, he dropped off the radar and out of radio contact as he headed to Buchnar in the far North, in search of Rhino. H a ha, we must be related, as that can only happen to a Murphy! Needless to say he did not find his Rhino, but he did have some nice Dagha Boys and a Breeding Herd of Elephant. I still had the feeling we would find Leopard in the North, so on our way home we popped in at Sohobele Dam and then onto Motswari Airstrip, the local hangout for our resident spotted friends. It would not disappoint as Jacky picked up a young male Leopard lying in one of the side roads. He was fairly relaxed and allowed us to follow him for a short while before disappearing into the night, overall it was a good sighting of who we think is Shongile's other brother, meaning it was not Vyeboom Dam Male. ( We MUST come up with a name for him.) It would appear he is spending more time in the area or he is becoming more relaxed and allowing us to view him more often. Once again, apologies for the lack of pic's, this afternoon's collage would have consisted of: swimming Elephants, remains of a baby impala killed by a python but then eaten by vultures, Dagha Boys lying in Sweetwater Pan, two female Rhino's at sunset around a dam, a beautiful Kudu Bull with the golden web of the orbweb spider between his horns, a White Faced Owl, a night adder and a young male Leopard. Hmm.......... not quite the same without the pictures, is it! Won't be making that mistake any time soon again!


  1. LOL, thanks for the update Grant.
    Pity you could not take pictures as it sound like a great drive...

    I love you pics of the lions and ele's you did post though.


  2. That was some blog Grant. Fantastic to read and very descriptive, it was wonderful to imagine the day.

    Lovely photos - thanks.

  3. So you know the deal: When the animals are hiding, don't bring you camera and they'll all come out! :)

  4. Closed my eyes and thought about the pics that may have been there...always good to use ones imagination sometimes LOL
    Loved the ones that were there and the drive sounded magical.