Tuesday, 12 April 2011

11th April: Pole to Pole.

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Herald, Grant, Marka & Giyani)

Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Peru – Tawny Eagle Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Hide Dam.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Gina's Rd.
Leopard ( Shongile) / Motswari – Matomani Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Herald, Grant, Marka & Giyani)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Vielmieter Access.
Leopard ( Ntombi & Cub) / Vielmieter – Elephant Dam Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

Having not seen Leopard in a couple of days it was high up on the list of priorities for a number of stations both in the North and South. Favouring our chances in the North around Motswari, especially after having the Vervet Monkeys alarm calling before we set off on drive, a number of the guys checked around camp. It was not long before they picked up fresh tracks just North of camp and we all thought it was only a matter of minutes before they found her. We thought wrong, as the tracks led the guys on a wild goose chase and had them chasing their own tails by the end of it. Slowly but surely the number of stations looking for her dropped by the wayside until only Marka was left.

We had headed to the North West in search of Rhino but had less success than those looking for the Leopard, not even finding tracks. Late in the morning we heard of a large herd of Elephant approaching Hide Dam, needing something to salvage our morning we rushed off South hoping to catch them drinking at the Dam. Making the long trip South we arrived to find that the Elephant had not made it to the Dam and instead had taken to resting, interspersed with bouts of unenthusiastic feeding, in the surrounding bush. The size of the herd itself was impressive with the entire area being alive with Elephant. We spent a fair amount of time travelling from group to group as they were all involved in different stages of activity with the majority of the youngsters lying down at their mothers feet seeking rest and shade from the warming sun.

I think the combination of already being late for breakfast and very far South was the catalyst for what happened next. Rushing back I received news from Marka that his perseverance had paid off and after a morning searching he had found his Leopard! Well at least I'm not the only one the kitchen hates now! Being in their bad books any way we could afford a visit. Having travelled pole to pole we pulled into the sighting of Shongile, it was not the greatest of sightings, as she made her way through some very thick vegetation but we did get to briefly see her clearly on one or two occasions. Not wanting to miss lunch we thought it best to return to camp, we could always follow up in the afternoon.

Setting out on afternoon drive, my guests asked me what our plans were, to which I responded that we would try relocate Shongile. They were keen for that and would then like to look for Zebra and Hippo. It looked like an afternoon in the North for us, while the others all headed South wanting to follow up on the large Elephant herd.

Not having any luck with Shongile we headed off in search of Zebra, keeping to wide open areas of long grass. It was not long before we found our striped friends, always nice when the animal kingdom plays along.

The difficult one down, now for the easier one, not to many places you can look for Hippo! We had purposely left our visit to Sohobele Dam till sundown as we hoped to catch the Hippos active and maybe even calling. We were not to be disappointed with a beautiful sighting of a family group, which included our calf of only two months, as the sunset.

These sightings did however come at a cost as all the stations that had headed off to the Elephant herd had also picked up on Ntombi and her cub with a kill. From what the guys told me it sounded like a good sighting but they could not spend much time with her as there were many stations responding, and they all had to view it before it became dark and the sighting became a negative lock as her kill was still on the ground.

So by the end of the day it looks like everyone got what they wanted, lets hope tomorrow a Rhino makes an appearance.  

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