Friday, 12 August 2011

10th August – A Day of Two Halves?

Photo of the Day
Rockfig Jnr on territorial patrol

Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant, Godfrey and Herold)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Wild West North

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Chris, Godfrey and Marka)
11 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 lionesses and 8 cubs) – Tanda Tula, Elloff Rd
1 x leopard (Nthombi’s Boy) – Jaydee, Tchwala Rd
1 x leopard (Rockfig Jnr female) – Tanda Tula, Eastern Link
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Tanda Tula, Machaton Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Tchwala Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Tanda Tula, Rhino Loop
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
1 x elephant bull – Kings, Eastern Cutline
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Airstrip
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Long Rd

Daily Synopsis
Wednesday was almost as if the animals were recovering from a serious Public Holiday Hangover, and we had the quietest morning we have had in a long, long time! 

Lilac breasted roller
Amongst the five drives, we only managed to tick off one “Big 5” sighting, but even the general game was not overly prolific, and it made for an all around quiet morning.
My morning’s mission was to find some rhinos, so I headed to the west, and after a breeding herd of elephants was called in on the western boundary, I thought that I was in luck and had made the right choice.
Heading over to see them, I got to see impala, steenbuck, crocodiles, distant hippos and a nice herd of waterbuck.

Carrying on to the west, we arrived at the elephant herd sighting, something that has been amiss the last week or so.  It was a nice herd and they fed on the mopanes, dust bathed, but then quite suddenly moved off to the west and crossed over into Klaserie and we left the area.

Elephant herd crossing Argyle Rd
I tried checking more of the west, but had no luck with much, and even impalas seemed a bit scarce.
Checking around Makulu Dam, we did find a few more animals in the shape of impala, kudu, nyala, waterbuck, dwarf mongooses and giraffe.

Dwarf mogooses and kudu bull
We headed back to camp and didn’t find anything else of much interest.  Godfrey had a frustrating morning himself, also looking for some rhinos that eluded him, as did a large herd of buffalo that he tracked off the property.
This didn’t bode well for the afternoon, but late in the morning, Dale from Tanda Tula informed us that they had found the Machaton Pride right on their southern boundary, and so I had a new mission for the afternoon.
I headed straight south, and didn’t see all that much besides impala and kudus until I got to Vielmetter.  Once there, we found more impala, a small breeding herd of elephants drinking at Hide Dam, and a nice herd of giraffes.

Elephant herd at Hide Dam, and a male impala
Crossing to the south, we saw a lone zebra standing in the middle of the road, but sadly we noticed why it was alone, and that was because it had a badly injured – possibly broken – back leg.  The poor thing didn’t look too uncomfortable, but the leg clearly hurt when she put pressure on it.

Injured Zebra
Leaving her in peace, we went to Machaton Dam where a large breeding herd of buffalo was at the waterhole finishing off their evening drink before heading off to the east.

Buffalo herd at Machaton Dam
It was great to see the herd at the water and all the males up to their usual boisterous antics.

The various antics of a breeding herd of buffalo
Leaving the buffalo, we drove a bit further south to arrive at the 11 lions of the Machaton Pride, but despite timing it just right to arrive at sunset, for the second evening in a row, our lions had no intentions of doing anything for us! 

Machaton Pride
Their bellies were still fat from the buffalo kill, but they barely budged; only one lioness awoke and moved, while one awoke to groom.  The cubs were all “flat cat” as we like to say!

The not so energetic Machaton lionesses - but better than their cubs this afternoon!
The southern stations had found Rockfig Jnr leopardess near Machaton Dam, and I decided to try for a more active leopard that yesterday’s Kuhanya, and moved in her direction.  We bypassed a distant herd of elephants as we made our way to the sighting. 
Rockfig Jnr was walking about scent-marking and hunting, but didn’t come across anything while we were with her.  Sadly though, after a short while with her, she crossed over our eastern boundary and into an area where we couldn’t follow her. 

Rockfig Jnr female leopard out and about in the south
That was about it for my afternoon -  a big improvement!  Grant too had a big improvement, but then I guess getting hit by a meteor would have been an improvement on his morning.
He had one enjoyable sighting around Makulu Dam where he had a herd of elephants, a herd of giraffe, nyala, and a young male leopard sleeping on a termite mound, all in one sighting!  The leopard was Nthombi’s Boy, and the giraffe’s staring had alerted Grant to the presence of the “danger”.
Kuhanya’s kill had sadly been stolen by Gijima male leopard, and unsurprisingly, he lived up to his name and moved off when found by one of the other stations; despite looking for Kuhanya, Marka and Chris (a free lance guide helping out for the next 6 days) were unable to locate her.
So that was the day, and I just hope that tomorrow I have a better morning!

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