Sunday, 17 July 2011

16th July: A Leopard At Last.

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Chad, Herald & Johannes.)

Leopard ( Gijima Male)/ Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd West.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Motswari – Bush Braai Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Elephant dam.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Peter Pan Access.
Buffalo ( 6 x Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Southern Access.
Rhino ( Tshangula Male)

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Chad & Herald.)

Leopard ( Mbali Female) / Peru – Tawny Eagle.
Leopard ( Gijima Male) / Peru – Mphiva Plains.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Peter Pan Access.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Giraffe Kill Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Albert/ Vielmieter Cutline.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Mangwa Clearing.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Argyle Dam Rd West.

Daily Synopsis.

The morning started off with a lot of promise as we received news that the White Lions were seen on Ingwelala, our Northern neighbour, the previous night heading in a South Westerly direction. While Chad headed out to the area that they may have crossed into our traversing area both Herald and myself followed up on growling noises Jacky had heard while waiting for the guests at reception before morning drive. It was not long before we picked up tracks for a male Leopard, on closer inspection we also found female tracks both heading in a Northerly direction towards camp. By the size of the track we thought we were looking for Argyle Male and began the tracking process. We first checked all the surrounding roads and not finding any other tracks coming out the block, both Jacky and Difference went in on foot, while Herald and myself widened our search. It was not long before Jacky contacted us telling us that they could here Impala alarm calling to the South of them. Herald being closer checked the area of the calls and got a brief glimpse of a large Leopard running off into the bush, obviously not Argyle Male but another large skittish male. Keeping his distance Herald and his guests were able to locate him once again and follow him, he appeared to be relaxed given his space. I joined Herald but I think two vehicles was one to many and he increased his pace off into the thicker areas. Having only seen a couple seconds worth of spots we lost him in a drainage line. Both Herald and I pulled out the area as we did not want to put pressure on him and returned to the airstrip to pick up the trackers. After collecting Jacky we went our separate ways with us heading South along the airstrip, it was here that we saw the distinctive shape of our lost Leopard making his way across the strip to the West. He once again increased his pace across the open area but on reaching the cover of the bush he relaxed and slowed down allowing us to follow him. At one stage we were within fifteen metres of him in a partial open clearing with him totally ignoring us and going about his business of identifying the foreign smells on the nearby bushes. It was here that we could id him as Gijima Male, Argyle Males son and brother to Shongile and Vyeboom Dam Male. We finally lost him again when he went were no Land Rover can.

While all of this was happening, Chad had checked the North but came up with nothing that had entered our traversing area. I had spoken to Lianne earlier and she went off to check our neighbouring properties that we do not have traversing on. She later informed us that they had found tracks for the White Lions on Ntsiri on our Western Boundary heading to the West. If they continue in that direction it will unfortunately be some time before we see them again.

All of us being out on the West we were in Rhino country and it was not long before Tshangula was found drinking from one of the pans. As Rhino are not that common in our area, or should I say, not as relaxed Rhino as Tshangula, we all in his direction to wrap up our mornings drive.

Afternoon drive had Jacky and I heading to the South East in the hope of finding Wild Dog that were heading in that direction from the morning. We also secretly hoped we would also find any sign for the “ King of the Jungle” that we could follow up on.

Chad and Herald stuck to the North, Chad desperately needing a cat of sorts, at this stage I guess he would have responded to an African Wildcat should it be called in. When we heard that Mbali had been found I knew how Chads afternoon was going to be spent.

Having seen nice Leopard in the morning we continued East and had ourselves a beautiful botanical drive, not to sure if Chad would agree. Not finding anything we moved quite quickly and covered a large majority of the East, both North and South. Finally accepting the fact that there was nothing to be found we set off to the West to go spend some time with a very large breeding herd of Elephant. Something that is always able to pick up the worse of moods. It was not long after arriving at the sighting and spending time amongst these incredible creatures, that all thoughts of Lions and the disappointment of not seeing them, melted away. We sat on a ridge with them as they mingled amongst one another, interacting and slowly feeding with the sun setting in the background, hmm......... peace and tranquillity.

Whilst the majority of stations visited Mbali and worked the Western sector, they had themselves a busy afternoon with their own breeding herd of Elephant, and the highlight of the day and possibly of the week, a sighting of a Klipspringer which Giyani found on a small rocky outcrop. There have been reports of Klipspringer in our traversing area but they are extremely rare as the habitat they require is very restricted. Certainly a sighting far more rare than Lion, well maybe.............

So another day ends without Lion, lets hope they here tomorrow as both Chad and my guests are checking out after morning drive not yet having seen this African icon.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the update Grant... Must say Gijima male looks pretty impressive from the pics!