Saturday, 5 March 2011

4th March: Faith!

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.

( Grant)

Buffalo ( Female & her Newborn Calf) / Karans – High Street.

Afternoon Drive.

Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Vielmieter - Entrance Dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Motswari - Crossing Below Motswari dam.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter - Nkoro Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru - Elephant Crossing.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Motswari - Motswari Wedge.
Cheetah ( 3 x Females) / Kings - Cheetah Plains.

( Grant, Herald & Johannes)

Daily Synopsis.

Was not going to post a blog for this morning, being so irritated and frustrated at how slow and dead it was! After calming down and giving it a second thought, decide otherwise, as although we saw very little, a lot happened. Starting drive under a fair amount of pressure, as it was the last drive for two of my couples, we still needed to find Leopard. Both couples had seen a fair amount of general game. The couple staying two nights had seen four of five, plus Wild Dog, while the other couple staying one night had seen only Elephant and Buffalo, no cats! Not being a zoo, nothing is guaranteed but we try our utmost to show our guests as much as possible and are always disappointed when we can't!

Being the only vehicle out for the lodge this morning didn't help, having to cover all the area's ourselves. Hearing that there was no shortage of vehicles in the South, we left it for them to check and should they find anything we could make our way there quickly. We thought we could double our chances by covering the North, hoping to find things ourselves. With Leopard on the radar we checked all the roads around camp, eventually broadening our search to the neighbouring properties, but found absolutely nothing, not even a Hyena track that we could temporarily mistake for a Leopard track! Feeling the pressure mount and no word from the South, we decide to give it a break and follow up on tracks for a Buffalo herd.

This proved trickier than previously thought and we were run around in circles. Determined to find them we persevered, I think sub-conscientiously we were trying to restore our faith! Having criss-crossed the entire area we eventually found a lone female, thinking she was a straggler and separated from the herd we continued around the block to try locate the rest of them. Not finding any tracks exiting the block meant they must still be resting within it, so making our way back to the female we thought we would find the rest of the herd a little deeper in the bush. We found her still in the same spot, but now acting very edgy, suddenly at the base of her feet appeared a calf trying to stand up, it shakily wobbled to it's feet were it leaned against her for support. Amazing how nature has an answer for everything! Explaining to my guests that it could be detrimental to the calf to try and locate the rest of the herd, as a couple of things could happen: the mother could panic, being alone, and abandon the calf seeking the shelter of the herd, or the herd could be lying resting a little further in and with our approach we could unsettle them and they could innocently trample the new born. They unanimously agreed that it was not worth the risk and we left mom and calf to settle and strengthen their bond.

Heading to the West, still not quite sure why, it felt as if we were lost and just driving around with no purpose, hoping against all odds to get lucky with anything. Whilst in no man's land I received a message from another station asking if I'd driven around Xinatsi Dam in the course of the morning, to which I replied, multiple times whilst searching for any sign of Leopard. They then broke the good and bad news. The good news being they had found Leopard tracks, the bad news, they were on top of my vehicle tracks! Telling Jacky, all he could do was shake his head, we decided simultaneously to turn around and head back and give it another go, but first we would stop for a coffee break, strategise!

Plan of attack formulated we arrived back in the area, while checking the surroundings we came across a second set of Leopard tracks, but they were close to our traversing boundary heading in its direction, more than likely Argyle Jnr Female, so we decided not to waste our fast becoming precious time and stick to the plan. Picking up on the tracks at Xinatsi Dam we tracked them directly North, straight towards Motswari, eventually losing them in a rocky drainage line two hundred metres North of camp. Running out of time, we pushed on and circled the area twice more, think my guests must have been suffering a serious case of deju've by the end of it all, but with no luck, and only frustration to show for it we called it a morning and limped home, wounded but not defeated!

I think what also made the morning that much more frustrating was that I was in the far North, when we received an invitation to visit three Cheetah that had killed two young Impala down in the South. With only forty five minutes of drive left, and having two check outs, there was no ways that I would ever make it there, let alone back in time!

I'll be joined by Herald and Johannes this afternoon, lets hope they've been talking to their ancestors!

The afternoon saw us heading straight South, well not actually, couldn't pass up the temptation to check a little around Motswari, would hate to get a call from Herald or Johannes saying they had found something close to home. Satisfied that an afternoon in the South was in order we headed on our way, popping in at Java Dam along the way, again another temptation we couldn't pass by. Along the way we received news that the Cheetah had moved position and were no longer there, but the guys were busy trying to relocate them. We had kind of half expected this news, specially after the day we were having, and although disappointed we carried on South to follow up on a nice breeding herd of Elephant and Buffalo they had, had during morning drive.

Just as well we did, as it was not long before we received another message saying that the Cheetah had been relocated. Putting all other plans on hold we headed in their direction. They were to be found on the very aptly named Cheetah Plains, where two of them were resting out in the open while the other, clearly a little shyer, took shelter in some nearby Magic Guarri Bushes. Keeping our distance as not to disturb them, they remained relaxed and out in the open, resting off their indigestion. It was a great sighting and the frustrations of the mornings drive were suddenly all a very distant memory.

They were completely forgotten when we were able to spend some QT with a large breeding herd of Elephant. My personal favourite were the three youngsters play fighting with one another, totally unaware of our presence, and when they became aware of us, they approached as if they wanted to include us in their game, before becoming shy and backing off to their respective moms.

Sundowners at Mukula Dam with the Hippos calling, rounded off a great afternoon.

Having said all that, tomorrow is going to be a test, as it is my guests of three nights last drive and they still have not seen Leopard. Add to this, the recently gained knowledge that this is there fifth safari trip to Southern Africa and they are still to see this elusive cat. It would round things off perfectly if our spotted friends made an appearance tomorrow, and complete the “ Big Seven” for us. NO PRESSURE!


  1. thats a very thin looking leopard!

  2. Thank you for a very honest report. Luckily it´s not a zoo!!!!

  3. Tiny, thats exactly why we started this blog; to show people what it is really like out there, and that it is not a zoo where animals are gauranteed! Its easy to make a lodge sound amazing if you are only reporting on your best sightings once a week, or once a doing it every day, you get a real idea of what it is like....and i think most people will agreee, that even our daily sightings are pretty special 95% of the time!!!

    Cant wait to see if Grant found his leopard this morning!!!