Thursday, 24 February 2011

23rd January: The Timbavati Botanical Gardens!

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.

( Grant, Godfrey & Chad)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Back Nines.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Sohobele Dam.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / DeLuca – Drongo Drive.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Vielmieter – Back Nines.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / DeLuca – Mpela-pela pan.

Afternoon Drive.

( Godfrey & Herold)

Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Elephant ( Kambaku ) / Vielmieter – Double Highway.
Rhino ( 2 x Females)

Daily Synopsis.

Having a fully charged battery it should have come as no surprise that we would wake to a cloudy dull grey morning. Instead of looking at the bright side that it would not be as hot today, I should have heeded the signs and left my camera behind! Having one last chance to find Leopard, we planned to stay in the North still believing our best chance lay around Motswari. Missing out on yesterdays Rhino, Chad was keen to follow up on our two new found females, so his destiny lay in the South. Godfrey's plan, was to have no plan, and take things as they came.

How many Zebras can you see?

After two hours we found ourselves within two kilometers of Motswari still adament that there was a Leopard to be found. To say the morning was slow would be an understatement, and every half hour one of the guides would do a radio check, just to make sure it was still working. In our two hours we had only seen a couple of Impala and what appeared to be an inpenetrable forest of endless Mopane! Our only highlight thus far a flock of Ground Hornbills. We pushed on for a further half hour but still not finding any track or sign we resigned ourselves to a long coffee break. Returning after a picturisque break on the Kruger Park Boundary we decided on a last ditch effort and headed to the North East. While driving the boundary we picked up tracks for a breeding herd of Buffalo heading to the West, hmm..............., maybe we could win ourselves a consalation prize. Sticking to the boundary we continued North with the intention of taking a diagonal road back to the South West and hopefully pick up on our Buffalo. Taking the diagonal we picked up the trail blasers and knew that they rest of the herd was not far behind. We checked on a nearby Pan and there in and around the water was a large thirsty breeding herd of Buffalo.

Our consalation prize gained value when we discovered two Yellow Billed Oxpeckers piggyback feeding amongst the herd.

It gained further value when we saw that one of the females had the embryiotic sack still clinging to her, and at her foot balanced a baby that must not have been more than a couple hours old. We spent time watching as it tried to gain co-ordination of it's legs and shakely stumbled about trying to catch up with it's feet. It was a great sighting and completely salvaged our morning.

The South was no busier than the North, but they at least had tracks that they could keep themselves busy with, even if they did not amount to much. At one stage they had tracks for both a male and a female Leopard, more than likely Rockfig Jnr and Machaton Male. This is the third day now that tracks have been found in that area, leading us to believe they are mating. Godfrey had first picked up on the female tracks while Chad was on his coffee break. Finishing up, Chad found the male tracks and followed those until the two united. I think this is when and where Chad forgot his morning's mission, although I'm sure he would argue that it was Godfrey's fault. With us all knowing his love for Leopards, the possibility of seeing two mating Leopards must have also been a major factor that led him astray! Both Godfrey and Chad spent the rest of their mornings trying to make sense of the many tracks heading in every direction of the compass. Unfortunately time was not their friend and they eventually had to head back to camp. This would not have been so bad had one of the stations not reported that they had relocated the two female Rhino's that Chad was on his way to follow up on, but skipped checking the area due to the Leopard tracks, ah........ Murphy strikes again!

Closing down one of the stations wrapped up the morning quite appropriately, he said, “ Thank you stations for a great morning in the botanical gardens of the Timbavati.”

Afternoon drive was a non starter for us as our guests found themselves temporarily misplaced and once checked in there was not enough time to go out on drive. By the sounds of things they had a little adventure themselves, enough for one day that is. That left Herold and Godfrey to fly the flag. From their accounts it sounded like a good afternoon to be out and it would appear that at least some of the animals have come out of hiding, still no Leopard though. The highlight of the afternoon being the relocation of our two recently acquired relaxed female Rhino's.

As I write this, it has begun to rain softly, this will wash away the old and bring about a fresh new start tomorrow, looking forward to it already!


  1. Outstanding series of captures.

  2. Thanks for the update Grant.

    Great photos again, and I love the buffs with the new born baby.

    It is a pitty Chad did not find the mating leopards, that would have been awesome, and still something I would love to see.

    Still no news about the white lions?


  3. Hi Lourens,

    Unfortunately still no sign of the White Lions or news of their whereabouts, only rumours, as there always are in the bush, and I'm not going to fuel those.

    The mating Leopards have chosen well and guaranteed their privacy, as they are in a very thickly vegetated riverbed that is not accessible. On the a positive note, lets hope we have cubs to look forward to in the not to distant future.

  4. I agree, new leopard cubs would be great.
    It's better not to fuel the rumours and I know we will get an update as soon as you guys know something.
    Thanks Grant