Saturday, 13 August 2011

11th August – I Clearly Picked the Wrong Roads!

Photo of the Day
Mafikizolo young male lion on a buffalo kill
Morning Drive
(Chad, Chris, Grant, Godfrey and Marka)
8 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride with buffalo kill) – Jaydee, Hlaramisa Rd
1 x leopard (Argyle male) – Argyle, Horizon Rd
3 x rhino (skittish male, female and calf)
2 x rhino (2 x males)
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Wisani Crossing
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Ekuvukeni Access
1 x buffalo bull – De Luca, Drongo Drive
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Airstrip Link
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Straight Rd
1 x elephant bull – Jaydee, Nkombi Pan

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Chris, Grant, 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
Well, I guess I wasn't going to get the better morning I was hoping for this morning; fortunately Grant had a lot better morning than I had.
I decided to check the north-eastern corner to see if the Xakubasa Pride might have come back, but we found nothing.  Literally.
Grant had found himself a lone elephant bull near camp, and a little later, he bumped into Argyle male leopard moving onto our property from Ingwelala.  Great; something for me to look forward to, so I slowly headed in his direction, only seeing two lots of buffalo bulls along the way.
Buffalo bull
Sadly, the leopard had drawn quite a lot of attention, and moving in thick bush, didn’t allow for the guides to move quickly through the sighting, so I had to hang around for the majority of the morning, only seeing two bushbucks and two kudus before eventually getting into the sighting. 

Kudu bull in flight
I had no sooner joined Johannes when the leopard crossed the road and went down into the riverbed!  Oh dear, this really wasn't going to be my morning!  We managed to get a slightly better look at him, but he was up and down the whole time, and walking in the riverbed made it an almost impossible sighting.  As frustrating as it was, it was still nice to see him back in the area.  We eventually left him and headed for coffee before going back to camp, seeing only a warthog along the way – amazingly, I didn’t see a single impala on the drive!  I do honestly think (to the best of my memory) that it is the first drive I have ever done without seeing an impala!!!!

Argyle male giving us the slip
In stark contrast to my morning, everything went right for Grant.  He came across a small herd of rhinos, but they eventually spotted him and ran off.   Later in the morning, he found another two relaxed rhinos, and ended off the morning getting to see the Mafikizolo Pride of lions on a buffalo kill in the south, with a number of hyenas in attendance!  Not bad at all – 4.5 of the Big 5 in one drive J
The afternoon was fortunately considerably better for me.
I headed out to Argyle Dam, half-hoping to find Argyle male leopard around there; and while we didn’t find him, we did see some impala (yip, I got excited about that!), a lone elephant bull, a crocodile, some nice birds and a large herd of waterbuck.

Elephant bull, African Harrier Hawk and waterbuck at Argyle Dam
While watching this wonderful scene, I heard that the two rhinos from this morning had been relocated in the south, and so I slowly pointed my vehicle in that direction.  Driving along the Nhlaralumi was not as productive as I had hoped on a warm afternoon, but we still ticked off steenbuck, impala, giraffe a few times, and a small breeding herd of elephants.

Steenbuck, giraffe, hippo and breeding herd of elephants
Arriving in the south, I moved straight into the rhino sighting and got to enjoy a fair sighting of these two male white rhinos.  They were quite mobile when we watched them, and sadly moved into a terminalia thicket that didn’t make for the easiest of sightings, but it was our first rhino sighting in a few days, so I was happy enough.

male white rhinos
We left them and drove a few hundred metres to the next sighting – one that Johannes had found while watching the rhinos – Nthombi’s male leopard “cub”.  Sadly, just like Argyle Male this morning, it was not to be our day for leopards and after only a couple of minutes with him, he headed down towards the riverbed in front of King’s Camp and I chose not to pursue him.

Sunset and a short sighting of Nthombi's Boy
We then enjoyed a wonderful sundowner at Elephant Dam before moving towards the Mafikizolo Pride, hoping to get them all nice and relaxed and feeding on the kill.  We arrived to find a few hyenas and black-backed jackals running around the periphery, and only the relaxed male lion feeding on the carcass.

Hyena waiting near Mafikizolo Pride adn their buffalo kill
After some time in the sighting, one lioness approached, but too fat bellied to do much, she just lay down and panted.

Mafikizolo lioness
The jackals and hyenas approached the lions closely, yet only once did one of the other lionesses get up to “chase” them off – it proved too much effort for her and she disappeared while the hyenas and jackals still hung around.

Black-backed Jackal
It was a wonderful African scene, and one that we were sad to leave, but seeing as it was already late, and we were still far from the lodge, we had to part company and head back along Argyle Rd.  On the way, we got to see side-striped jackal, as well as some more hyenas.
Spotted hyena on Argyle Rd
The other guides had similar afternoons to me, except for Grant who went to the far-eastern corner of the reserve and enjoyed a quiet afternoon away from the other stations.  While he didn’t see much more than elephant, there were many stories to be told in the tracks of animals: a female leopard dragging a kill, only to have it stolen by hyenas, a male lion pursuing a herd of buffalo, tracks for the white lions heading into that area, and tracks for plenty of rhinos – including tracks for a very small rhino calf.  So while he missed out on all this action, he still enjoyed just being out there!
This should be my last blog update for a week or so; Grant will be taking over the duties for a week or so to give me a break, but I shall be with you again in a few days time!  I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed the last two-and-a-half weeks of updates from me, and I look forward to catching up with you all again soon!


1 comment:

  1. Most enjoyed, really beautiful photographs, by this armchair guest.