Tuesday, 29 March 2011

28th March - Big Game!

Pic of the Day.
 Morning Drive.

( Chad, Marka, Elliot & Grant)

Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Argyle Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Marula Overhang.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Argyle – Crossing Below Argyle Dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Motswari – Motswari Camp.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Karans – Kudu Pan Clearing.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Woza Woza Cutline.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Nhlaru Rd.
Leopard ( Unknown Male) / Peru – Jakkals Draai.

Afternoon Drive.

( Chad, Elliot, Grant & Johannes)

Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Enkombi Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Hide Dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Peru – Sohobele Dam.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Argyle – Vyeboom Dam.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Sohobele Dam.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / DeLuca – Drongo Drive.
Rhino ( 2 x Females).

Daily Synopsis.

The morning started with us all having our own objectives, some admittedly easier than others, and we all headed our separate ways favouring areas that would increase our chances of achieving those objectives. Chad headed to the North East, trying his luck a second time this week on locating Lions that the trackers and night watchman had heard shortly before drive. Elliot in turn headed to the South East, to try follow up on the Mahlatini Males that he believes are still in the the bottom corner of our traversing area. Not sure what Marka was looking for, in fact not sure where he was driving either, I do however know he was out there, as he found our highlight of the morning!

Our morning was to be a relaxed one due to the great sightings of the previous afternoon. We were looking for Elephant and Buffalo, as well as any other general game that came our way. With Chad and Elliot out in the East and Marka flying beneath the radar, we headed to the West to try our luck. Our morning got off to a slowish start, with even the general game proving elusive. As is our norm in these situations we turned to the birds to fill the void, and once again they did not disappoint with a great sighting of a Marshal Eagle sitting high up in a dead Knobthorn Tree surveying Mpiva Plains below for breakfast. Moving on to Sohobele Dam we found a nice group of Hippo's calling out as if to reserve their positions for the days rest. While sitting with them the radio started to come to life, with a breeding herd of Buffalo being found at Voel Dam. Being on our mornings wish list we continued in their direction. We would have to move quickly as they were heading out of our traversing area. As is typical in this situation, our previously elusive animals would now decided to make themselves visible, and in such a way that you could not casually ignore them. The culprits this time were a very relaxed herd of Kudu with young, and a small group of Waterbuck. Spending a short time with them, we were off again, only to hear that another herd of Buffalo were found South of us, resting and in no danger of crossing out of our traversing area. Having committed and to late to turn back to our offended antelope, we continued to catch our herd of Buffalo as they approached the tar road and our traversing boundary.

Having made the dash we spent a considerable amount of time with them and it was whilst sitting amongst them that the mysterious Marka called in the next members of our wish list, a breeding herd of Elephant. With the last of the Buffalo crossing over we set off in his direction, but again a detour would lie ahead in the form of a young male Leopard. We have seen him on a handful of occasions in the area, but as he is rather skittish we decided to view him from afar. Even at a distance he did not appear that settled and after a couple of minutes made his way down from his Marula Tree and into the cover of the scrub below. We decided to leave him there and not to pressurise him by following him trying to get a better view. Hopefully with time he will become accustomed to the vehicles and not see us as a threat, thus allowing us to approach closer.

Getting back to our wish list we made our way to Marka's Breeding Herd of Elephant. It appeared to be two herds in the same vicinity as although they were feeding together they seemed to be slowly moving in different directions. It was a great sighting with the bush alive with Elephants of all sizes, age and gender, interacting with one another. Our highlight of the morning.

Having found Marka, we had found his mornings objective. Unfortunately we did not come across Chad or Elliot, there objectives having escaped them for the time. They did however also enjoy a morning of Big Game.

I would join the Lion brigade in the afternoon, but first my guests had requested Giraffe, Crocodile and Zebra. Having heard of a Giraffe sighting at Vyeboom Dam in the morning, we decided to take a chance and check if it perhaps stayed in the area. It would also be a good place to look for a crocodile, and Zebra are known to frequent an open clearing not far from the dam. Arriving at the dam we were lucky enough to find two bull Elephants swimming, unfortunately we could not get to the bank where they were playing in the water due to the thick surrounding vegetation. Watching it from a distance did not detract from one of my favourite sightings. Not forgetting our mission we continued on our way but did not have to travel far before we startled a large Crocodile resting on a sand bank alongside the dam, actually not a hundred percent sure who was more surprised, us or the Crocodile.

While sitting with the Crocodile, and a Hippo who had now joined in to investigate the commotion, a Giraffe causally walked past and into a terminalia thicket to feed. The “ Luck of the Irish” appeared to be on board today. I was half tempted not to move and wait for my Zebra and Lion to walk on by, but with the Giraffe disappearing into the distance, we decided to follow a while longer. Being on a role we expected to find our Zebra in the clearing and were somewhat disappointed when they were not there, but not as disappointed as we were to be with the rest of our drive.

Things went very quite for us, and our selection of roads and areas yielded very little success. At one stage we even managed to lose the road! This is not to be confused with being lost, we knew where we where, we just didn't know where the road was! After relocating our road shortly after dusk, we received a consolation prize in the form of a small herd of Zebra making their way along an old airstrip. I guess getting three of the four of our guests requests is not bad, but after the start we had, it seemed to promise so much more!

The others had a similar afternoon with sporadic sightings of large game through out the drive. Chad however did manage to go one better than us all and locate his own Giraffe. This makes a change from having to respond to, or follow up on these now elusive creatures. If we didn't know better, we would think the White Lions had returned! Chad also found himself two Rhino's, unfortunately it was after dark and he was unable to view them, as we don't view Rhino by spotlight. Guess I didn't have the most frustrating afternoon after all!

With my, and some of Chad's guests checking out tomorrow after morning drive, and not having seen Lion, there is no guesses what we will be looking for!  

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