Friday, 25 February 2011

24th February: Feelings!

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.

( Herald, Godfrey & Grant)

Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Malonga Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Tanda Tula – Tortilla Plains.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Hide Dam.
Lion ( 2 x Machaton Females) / Tanda Tula – Tortilla Plains.

Afternoon Drive.

( Herald, Elliot & Grant)

Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Motswari Southern Access.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Mbali – Mvubu Crossing.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Motswari River Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Tchwala Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Kings – Cole's Drive.
Rhino ( Mtenga-tenga)
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / JayDee – Makulu Dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Leopard ( Ntombi & Cub) / Kings – Cole's Drive.

Daily Synopsis.

The morning started with high expectations, the rain had stopped, there was a freshness about the bush and there was something in the air that promised great things. Godfrey had headed out early in search of Leopard, he too now faced the pressure I had the day before, and Marka the one before that. Having time on our side, well at least for today, both Herald and myself were out to find Lion, Leopard or any other general game that came our way. Herald headed to the West to follow up on Lions that were heard calling in that direction shortly before sunrise. Soon after leaving Motswari looking for any sign of the “ King of the Jungle,” he came across fresh tracks for a herd of Buffalo moving to the South West. I joined him in trying to locate them and it did not take us long to catch up with them sitting down ruminating in an open grassed area.

A good start and the promises seemed to be living up to the expectations! We had a feeling the Lions we heard calling were following the Buffalo, but after checking the surrounding area and coming up with nothing we headed to the Eastern boundary still in search of Big Cats, while Herald continued South through the Central section, maybe we would get lucky with the Maghlatini's. The next two hours felt more like two days and we both felt like we were back in the Botanical Gardens, not that there is anything wrong with a Botanical Garden, but it doesn't quite live up to one's expectations when you think you have visited a zoo.  

We were finally given a lifeline when Tanda Tula found two of the Machaton Females and kindly invited us to visit them. Being a long way South it took us a while to get there, Herald had arrived first and while sitting with the two Lionesses in an open plain, another herd of Buffalo approached. The Lionesses feeling out numbered and clearly full bellied, they stood and dragged their big stomachs into a nearby riverbed, making themselves barely visible, cue in our arrival! We were able to get a good view with some serious manoeuvring and a little contortionism.

Before all our muscles went into spasm we left the Lionesses to sleep off their indigestion and we briefly visited the Buffalo, who now had made themselves at home in a number of mud wallows surrounding a pan on the plain.

We hoping that, “ that something in the air” makes an appearance this afternoon.

Starting drive with a choice of, a group of Kambaku's behind the lodge, or a breeding herd of Elephant in the front, we decided on the breeding herd in the hope the little one's would put on a show for us. We were not to be disappointed, with one youngster in particular stealing the show! He started off by giving himself a sand bath in the most peculiar way, during which he obviously lost his train of thought and took a nap.

Fully rested he raised himself and decided it was time to test his strength amongst the other youngsters, not finding a playful taker, he turned his attention on us.

Ears out, head lowered, he ran in our direction quickly gaining momentum, getting within ten metres he came to the realisation that we were not going to move and best he put on the brakes before colliding with the fast approaching bull bar of the vehicle. Managing to come to a grinding halt five metres or so away, he raised his head and gave us a look that pervade the message he had let us off with a warning, this time! Walking back fifty metres, he turned again and as if suffering amnesia he proceeded to go through the whole procedure again, much to our amusement. We decided to leave before his third, and no doubt, final warning!

Hearing they had located Mtenga-tenga in the South heading towards a dam, we decided to take a leisurely drive in his direction hoping to time our arrival with his at the water. Arriving shortly after he had begun drinking we spent some time with him while he stood in the water contemplating life.

He eventually came to a decision and continued his journey to the South slowly feeding along the way. As we were nearing sundown we decided to take our leave and head to the North and a beautiful spot in the middle of a dam for sundowners.

While parking for sundowners we received an invitation from the Southern stations to respond to Ntombi and her cub, who had been found resting in a riverbed. Offering my guests the option of, drinks or a “ special sighting”, they all resoundingly chose option B. So we were off South again, from where we had just come, my day was starting to resemble ground-hog day! With the light fading fast the guys moved through the sighting quickly so as that everyone got a chance to see them under natural light. It has been a long time since we have seen Ntombi, well any relaxed Leopard for that fact, and I can't even remember the last time we saw her cub. He has grown so much and only being around a year old, he is nearly as large as his mother. They both looked full bellied as they lay relaxing on the sand taking in the world around them. To complete the picturesque scene, a breeding herd made their way into the riverbed a little further down to drink from the scattered pools of water. Ah........... life in Africa is tough!

Having a long way home again, we set off content that the “ feeling in the air” had delivered!


  1. Great update and drive Grant.
    Lovely shots of the bufs and charging ele.
    Glad you saw some cats as well. And the big five in one day is not too bad at all :-).


  2. Gabriella Bianchi25 February 2011 at 13:52

    Hi Grant
    Cool drive. Wish I was there with the Elephants, see them playing around. Enyoy the drives and sightings. Will do that with the blog as well and hopefully soon in the landrover again.
    Take care

  3. Grinning buffalo, mocking ellie, staring leopard


    another tuff day in Afrikkaaaaaa

  4. PS well done on pic of the day