Thursday, 5 May 2011

04th May: Tracks!

Picg of the Day.

Morning Drive.


Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Argyle – Long Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Peru Cutline.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Peru Entrance.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Hornbill Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Peru – Xinkhovanin Rd North.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Peru Cutline.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant)

Lion ( 2 x Timbavati Males, 2 x Machaton Females & 8 Cubs) / Tanda Tula – Shortcut.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Sohobele Dam.

Daily Synopsis.

As I had guests checking out and not having seen Lion yet, it was going to be all about finding the “ King of the Jungle” today! We did however ease in to the morning with a great sighting of the Hippo that live in Sohobele Dam.

While sitting there I received a message that they had tracks for two females and what looked like two sub adult Lions in the West. They suspected it could possibly be the White Lions, throwing out the mornings plans we headed in their direction to help follow up. Arriving on scene Jacky went directly onto foot while I circled the area checking for tracks further afield. Finding tracks not far from Voeldam heading in a South Easterly direction I thought they did not look like the White Lions as the sub adults tracks were to small and pointed to younger cubs. Not finding any tracks in the immediate area I headed off to follow up on Chad's Leopard from the previous evening, leaving Jacky to work his magic.

The Leopards had unfortunately finished off their young male Impala, leaving us only the leg bones and skull as evidence that they had been in the area. As they had done we moved off, taking a break for coffee hoping Jacky would come right. Contacting him once we were mobile again he informed me that he was still following up and that I could jiga jiga in the area. As the clock counted down we found ourselves a nice breeding herd of Elephant and Buffalo, surprise, surprise!

With time finally running out we had to make our way back to camp, Jacky stayed on, saying that once he started tracking he was not going to leave until he found them. Herald and Tiyani joined him to help out and hopefully by afternoon drive we would have found them. Something to look forward to.

Shortly before afternoon drive the guys arrived back at camp, they had found the Lions. Unfortunately it turned out to be part of the pride of ten we had a couple weeks ago that ran from any contact. Apparently every time the trackers approached they would run off leaving the place where they had been resting and the cubs had been playing. Well at least we could confirm it was not the White Lions.

Hearing that they had the entire Timbavati and Machaton Pride in the South we arranged that we could visit them in the afternoon. They were to be found on Tanda Tula a little South of Machaton Dam out in the open plains. Heading directly there we thought our luck had changed, we should have known! Arriving at the spot that they had been in the morning we found only tracks, thinking they may of took shelter from the midday sun in the surrounding bush we checked the area with out any luck. Jacky and I then went onto foot to follow the tracks, but we struggled to get a direction as you can imagine with a pride of fourteen there were tracks all over the place and heading in every direction! Thinking they may of headed into the nearby riverbed we took a chance and headed to the Western bank where we could see into the thickly vegetated riverbed in spots. With the sun fast approaching the horizon, we were again racing time. We then caught a break and found tracks for a female and cubs heading further to the West. It was also at about the same time we received a message that Ntombela was found literally three hundred metres away from us. Not loosing focus of why we were there we passed up the opportunity to visit a beautiful little leopard, but we needed the time. While tracking on foot we could see Impala off in the distance looking very unperturbed, so the Lions could not be close and must have already passed a while ago. Returning to the car we took a chance a found ourselves a road that headed West trying to buy time. We headed further and further West with no joy and Jacky had already mentioned that we should think of turning around, looking for a spot to do a u-turn, we again found tracks. We once again went onto foot to follow up one last time, being about a hundred metres away from the car, Jacky and I hear this soft, polite, “hello, hello, excuse me,” coming from behind us. We turned to find our guests pointing down the road, looking over our shoulder we found what had caught their attention, there around the next corner sat up two Timbavati Males looking in our direction, guess we found our Lions. Slowly retreating to the vehicle they paid us little attention and when we joined them they had gone back to sleeping. It did not make sense to Jacky or I as we were tracking a female with cubs and there were no tracks for the males anywhere along the way. Jacky then noticed the tracks for the cubs and female heading passed the males to the West. Looking in that direction we could see a cluster of False Maroela's that a few Vultures had gathered in, leaving the males we headed in their direction and before arriving we found the females sitting in a clearing grooming the older of the cubs. Getting into position the younger cubs came out from the surrounding bushes fighting over the remains of what Jacky later identified as a Kudu. With the sun nearly setting we did not get to spend that much time with them as we are not allowed to use a spotlight on young cubs and they become a negative lock after dark. The time we did spend with them was great, as they were active grooming, wrestling, fighting, growling and generally playing about.

Having drinks later I could not help but comment to my guest that he remained very calm and collected with us walking towards the Lion and was so soft in his calling out, to which he replied , he was scared that if he was any louder he would scare off the Lions!

Of other interest, which we did not see, but Marka found, was Kuhanya trailing Argyle Male, something for us to follow up in the morning.      

1 comment:

  1. Being away for a fortnight I have been reading all the adventures of the past two weeks. Amazing how things can turn very fast - from a very quiet drive to great sightings!! You all must have enjoyed it very much. Beautifell photo´s again. Thank you all very much for sharing your bushlife.