Thursday, 7 April 2011

06th April: " Remain Calm, Remain Calm!"

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive

( Herald & Grant)

Leopard ( Ntombi & Cub) / Vielmieter – Western Tsharalumi.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Karans – Mananga Cutline.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Scholtz – Scholtz River Rd.
Rhino ( Unknown Female & Calf)

Afternoon Drive

( Herald, Grant & Marka)

Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Argyle – Hamerkop Loop.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Termite Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Argyle Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Vielmieter – Western Tsharalumi.
Leopard ( Unknown Female) / Peru – Dagha Boy Rd.
Lion ( Mahlatini Male) / Karans – Western Cutline.

Daily Synopsis

Waking to a beautiful morning we set off early wanting to try catch Ntombi and her cub on their kill in the far South of our traversing area. Only stopping to watch a magnificent African sun rise over the recently cleansed bush, we headed directly in her direction. Along the way we received news that both of them were still to be found at the site but they were finishing off what was left of the kill and looked like they would get mobile shortly. This happened quicker than we thought and unfortunately they were heading into a very tricky area of the Tsharalumi River. Accelerating our arrival we pulled into the sighting just in time to see them disappear into the riverbed, from where we lost them in the thick reeds. It appeared as if our early morning had all been in vein! Not giving up though and knowing a little of her patterns combined with lots of luck we headed to check a favourite road of hers on the opposite bank. As we rounded the corner she was to be found crossing it to the East, while he was still emerging from the river bank on our left, ah.................... Pay day!

Our luck only improved as not many stations were responding, so we were able to spend a great deal of our morning with them. As they slowly made their way through the Eastern section of their territory. The cub has grown substantially since we've last seen him and he is now as big as his mom, she seems to be the youngster of the two of them though, as she lay in ambush of him and would spring from her hiding as he passed, chasing him down and playfully fighting with him. You couldn't help but want to spend the morning with them.

After some time the play came to an end and mom set about determinedly scent marking the area, we took this as our cue and headed off in search of our now very elusive Elephants.

Heralds morning found him looking for Rhino again, surprise, surprise! What was no surprise was that he found them! He located a female and her calf after getting some help from one of our fellow lodges. They were not relaxed around the vehicle so Herald decided to go on foot. After what sounded like quite a long walk tracking the pair, Herald, Difference and their guests were rewarded with a great sighting. They had both the wind and sun in their favour and found the Rhino's in a nice clearing that had enough cover around to allow them to approach to within twenty metres unnoticed. For all of you who have walked in the bush you will know that there is nothing quite like viewing large game on foot, you really get to appreciate the magnitude of the animal and there is a connection that you make that is indescribable, truly a once in a lifetime experience!

Taking a chance we headed to the dams of the East as the morning heated up in hope of find our Elephant. Along the way we found a nice breeding herd of Buffalo, but not quite what we were looking for. Checking all the dams we came up empty handed and it appeared our mornings luck had run dry, until we came across a recently water filled mud wallow, it was here that we found our Elle. Being a Kambaku the first thing we checked was that he was not in musth before approaching any closer, establishing that he wasn't we manoeuvred ourselves into a position on the opposite side of the pan. It was only when we were there and parked that we realised that he was an old grumpy friend of ours, who is known through out the reserve for his ill temper. This is due to a leg injury he must have had when he was a youngster, breaking it and it setting so that he can not bend it. On this occasion he seemed in a better mood, although he was a little unsettled, this could have been due to the fact that he was actually in the beginning stages of musth which we only found out when sitting down wind of him. We sat silently watching until he finished his mud bath and begun to leave, not wanting to antagonise him in anyway. Also we were parked in a tricky area with not many emergency exits, funny how you only find this out when you need to. Thinking he was done and had moved off we started up, this seemed to trigger him and he turned around and began running towards the vehicle, which I was kindly informed of by the loud squeal from my passengers, which was quickly followed by one of my guests repeating, “ remain calm, remain calm.” Still not sure if she was speaking to me, herself, the other guests or the fast approaching Elephant! So remaining calm I backed up and turned us around heading out the way we came in. It was something to watch as the Elephant hobbled towards us and amazing how he has adapted to his handicap, it certainly didn't appear to slow him down in any way!

After our mornings adrenaline rush we decided to head back for breakfast, calm the nerves.

Afternoon drive was a far more relaxed event with a number of relaxed sightings. The two most interesting of them being the +/- 6 unknown Lions that were found in the South, this included a adolescent male and an unknown number of young cubs. Those that saw them did not recognise them and were unsure of exactly how many there were, as some of them moved off into thick vegetation on the banks of the Machaton River on the vehicles approach. Earlier that morning the Southern stations had reported tracks for a large pride of Lions that headed North, but were unable to locate them. Who knows who our visitors are!

Having a nice relaxed afternoon, enjoying a number of sightings of different herds of Buffalo and Giraffe.

We decided we would end our evening by visiting the Maghlatini Male and his Giraffe, see if we could find any answers to our investigation. We purposely waited till after dark, hoping to watch him feed or at least catch a couple of hyena's in the area, maybe get lucky and view the interaction between the two. Making our way into the sighting things were unusually quit and when we arrived at the dead Giraffe we were the only ones there, hmm...................................bizarre! Not much more had be eaten from the day before, the stomach however had been opened and hence the bloating disappeared. The smell was pretty pungent and hard to believe hadn't attracted a clan of Hyena's! We checked the entire area but could not find any sign of him, even the nearby Java Dam had not attracted him.

This now raises a few more questions:

  1. Why has he not fed?
  2. Is there something wrong with the meat that it has not attracted even the Hyena?
  3. Where has he gone and will he be back?

Only tomorrow will tell.


  1. Lovely tour, thanks. Forgive my ignorance but those gorgeous, inquisitive little critters don't look like Meerkat, what are they? No wonder your guest squeeled - from the photo that elephant looked pretty close. Is that croc the big one mentioned in other blogs. Where's the photo of the sunrise?

  2. Thanks for all the comments Wanda!

    Those little guys are dwarf mongooses, a close relative of the meerkats!

    @janet - howzit :) no, she is just fat after feeding on 2 kills...her cub is about 14 months now, so she wont be coming into estrus again until the end of the year...



  3. thanks Chad - cub looking a bit "skraal" in comparison in the one pic - maybe it was just the angles