Saturday, 11 June 2011

09th June – Looking for All Things White!

Photo of the Day
Elephant herd drinking at Xinatsi Dam
Morning Drive
(Chad and Herald)
5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride – 2 x lionesses, 2 x white lions, 1 x tawny male) – Peru, Nkombi Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Voel Dam
4 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Wisani Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam
4 x elephant bulls – Peru, Wild West
4 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Argyle Dam (on walk)
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Nkombi Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Chad and Herald)
5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride – 2 x lionesses, 2 x white lions, 1 x tawny male) – Peru, Nkombi Rd
2 x rhino (2 x female white rhinos)
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Hanger Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Western Sharalumi
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Sweetwater Pan
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Argyle Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Tawny Eagle Rd
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Peru Entrance

Daily Synopsis
With the reasonably mild mornings of late, and the rain last night, it was almost as if we were forgetting that it was summer...well, today reminded us that it is indeed winter, and there was a definite chill in the rather gusty wind that blew in the evening!
As far as the game viewing went, it was not a bad day at all, but compared to the viewing of late, it was a bit quiet.
The morning started off fantastically with us finding a small breeding herd of elephants approaching Xinatsi Dam, and we hung around until they all went to drink.

Drinking elephants
After having a drink, they wandered off to go and feed and we left them to it.

Feeding after their morning drink
My mission for the day was to find all things white; namely white lions and white rhinos.  To accomplish the former, I headed off to help Lianne track the white lions.  Along the way we encountered duiker, impala and an elephant bull in musthe that disappeared very quickly.  The lions had moved to drink at Lily Pan after finishing their small zebra kill.  From Lily Pan the tracks headed north-east, and we were checking the first road in the area for any tracks, but had a stroke of good fortune when I spotted them walking parallel to the road.  That was easier than I expected! 

Xakubasa White Pride
What wasn’t as easy was following them in a rather tricky area.  The bush wasn’t all that thick, but it was such that it made driving off road a rather unpleasant mission for me!  Still, we managed to keep up with them, but true to form, they went and settled for the day in a rather thick area, and seeing that they were not going to be doing anything for the rest of the day, we left to sleep and went for a cup of coffee. 
Sleeping in the thickets as usual
In typical winter morning fashion, as the morning heated up, the animals were out in force.  First we ticked off a small group of elephant bulls before finding a large breeding herd of buffalos drinking at Voel Dam.

Breeding herd of buffalo at Voel Dam
Heading back to the lodge from Voel Dam, we found three herds of zebras, a nice scene with impala, baboons and giraffe.  There were several more large groups of impalas on the road, and it was just so pleasant to see zebra herds scattered all over the reserve!

Giraffe, baboons and zebras
After breakfast I went out for a bushwalk with my guests and we headed to Argyle Dam to walk in that area; it was a good choice and we had a really enjoyable walk, seeing a couple of herds of impalas, a couple of groups of waterbuck, a herd of zebras, a hippo out of the water and the best of the lot, a group of four elephant bulls drinking at the dam.
The afternoon drive saw me still needing to find rhino, but I was keen for leopard too.  Not having down much of the south with my guests, I headed straight south along Western Cutline.  It was very quiet going down there, with only impala, steenbuck and a lone kudu bull to speak of. 

Impala and steenbuck
Arriving in the south, my fortunes didn’t change much and we didn’t see a great deal, and none of the usual giraffe and zebras were about; perhaps it was the chill in the air that sent them for cover?
We persevered, and saw some rhino tracks near Hide Dam heading south, but couldn’t get hold of any King’s guides to get permission to follow up.  That also put pay to the idea of going to see the Machaton Pride further south.  Instead I slowly headed towards Sweetwater Pan, hoping that I might find rhinos there.
Lilac-breasted roller
We did see bushbuck, impala and a group of elephants along the way before stopping for drinks at Sweetwater. 
While having drinks, some elephants walked past in the distance, and as it was getting cold and dark, and as Kuhanya leopardess had also been found just outside the lodge, I wanted to head back to that area (typical, I was on the other side of the reserve when she was found!!!).  Nature had different plans though, and temporarily put that idea to rest...
Terrible photo of an elephant cow :)
Sadly my timing was a bit off, and if I had stayed at my drinks spot for maybe 3 or 4 minutes longer, the rhinos would have come to me!  As it was, we had no sooner left the pan when I saw some dust on the road and was about to ask Petros what had created it when two rhinos appeared next to the road, but sadly they got a fright and moved off west.  We followed for a while, but it really was too dark to see them nicely, so we left the area at least having seen the butts of two rhinos!
Our trip back to camp was quieter than it had been of late, seeing only a lone buffalo bull and a breeding herd of elephants along the way.
Herald had some new guests, so he went to see the lions that were still sleeping in the same spot, and while he timed it right to arrive at sunset, the lions had other ideas and remained inactive.
So that was the day – while I didn’t get any good photos, it was still another fantastically enjoyable and special day at Motswari.  I also ticked off my 27th species when a large-spotted genet came wandering into the boma after just one more species to go to get 28 by the end of morning drive tomorrow...easy!!! 

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