Sunday, 6 March 2011

5th March: Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Jacky!

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.

( Grant, Johannes & Herald)

Leopard ( Kuhanya) / Motswari – Northern Access.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Peru – Sohobele Dam.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Woza Woza Cutline.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Elephant Dam.
Rhino ( Mtenga-tenga)
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Steep Tsharalumi.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Kings – Hyena Rd.
Cheetah ( 3 x Females) / Kings – Cheetah Plains.

Afternoon Drive.

( Johannes & Herald)

Leopard ( Kuhanya) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd.
Lion ( Mahlatini Males) / Mbanzu – Motswari Wedge River Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

So facing our last drive needing Leopard to complete the “ Big Seven” and our guests five safari drought, we woke with a positive feeling, today was to be our day!

Whilst enjoying coffee before drive, John, our night watchman and aspiring ranger, told me of Lions that he had heard calling through the night off to the North East. They had called until around four and sounded not that far away!

Settling into the vehicle, I told Jacky about what John had to say and asked him if he was keen to quickly go check it out. I think both he and I were on the same page, wanting to find Leopard desperately, but not wanting to look for it, if you know what I mean! If you don't, we were trying to manipulate fate, and looking for something else was the perfect disguise!

So we headed off on Motswari's northern access in the direction of the Lion calls. Not two minutes out of camp, I noticed Hyena tracks on the road and commented to Jacky that at least things had picked up in comparison to yesterday morning. To which he replied he also had fresh Leopard tracks. I stopped to look down at the tracks, while Jacky obviously felt we were close and was looking down the road and scanning all the nearby trees. Literally pulling away, intending to follow the tracks, Jacky excitedly pointed to the North and said, “ INGWE!” There off in the distance was the unmistakable outline of our Leopard sitting upright in a Marula Tree. Not knowing which Leopard it was and fearing it may be skittish, we took no chances and killed the engine to watch it from a distance. It appeared to crouch down along the branch when it looked in our direction, a sign that it was not that comfortable with our presence. Giving it time to acclimatise to us, we slowly manoeuvred closer, until we were close enough to identify it as no other than Motswari's own resident female, Kuhanya! With a positive Id we approached closer, but she appeared restless and it was not long before she made her way down the tree and started to head to the South West.

The direction she was heading in is an extremely difficult area, as it is thickly vegetated, and where it does open a little it is very rocky and strewn with boulders, this is not to mention the two very steep drainage lines. Waiting on either Herald or Johannes to arrive we experienced quite the roller coaster ride trying to keep up with her. We lost her on a couple of occasions but Jacky's quick eye and intuition, with the help of a squirrels alarm call here and there, we were able to relocate her. With Johannes and Herald arriving on scene we took our leave of the beautiful Kuhanya, letting them take over the fun and games of trying to keep up with her.

Having successfully manipulated fate, we did not push our luck and headed off to follow up on our Lion. It's no surprise that we did not come up with anything, not even a toe print, let alone a paw print!

We decided we would try and follow up on the herd of Buffalo from the day before that they had found in the South. Tracks pointed towards Makulu Dam, so we made our way there. Along the way we found a Dagha Boy at Sohobele Dam, not giving it much thought we continued South. We were in contact with stations checking the area but had not found anything, halfway there we received a message that our Dagha Boy at Sohobele Dam had multiplied and was now a breeding herd. The rest of the herd must have been resting in the close by Mopane, which we had driven right by. See what happens when you manipulate fate, you have to face the repercussions. Turning around and making our way back, we received news from Herald that he had now found the other breeding herd in the South, guess those repercussions come with interest! Arriving on scene the Buffalo had once again done their disappearing act, giving Jacky and I flash backs to the previous morning, were they had us driving around in circles. Only having to go round once this time we found the herd feeding in a dense Mopane belt.

After taking a coffee break on the nearby Sohobele River we headed back to camp popping in at Kuhanya, North of Xinatsi Dam. She had led the guys all the way back to a young warthog kill shortly after we had left her, hence her mission to the South West.

Herald and Johannes both had themselves a great morning and after Kuhanya, they headed South where we were invited to visit Mtenga-tenga

As Jacky and I have come to the end of our driving spell, with us going on leave on Wednesday, the blog will be updated with the sightings report only for the next couple of days. Chad will take over this from Wednesday and begin with stories of his colourful adventures when he returns to drive.

I did want to mention however that I don't know what magic Herald and Johannes posses, but it certainly is powerful. As you all know we have not had Lions in the area the last couple of days, and there have been no signs for them either, yet, from no where, they managed to pick up tracks on the afternoon drive in an area that we seldom go. Through determination, perseverance and some exceptional tracking they located the Mahlatini Males shortly before sunset on a Waterbuck kill. They had clearly killed it the previous night as there was not much left and the Lions would no doubt disappear again later that evening, once again proving timing is everything! Apparently Johannes, Herold, Difference and Patrick have the ability to create time!

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