|Pic of the Day!|
( Herold, Marka, Godfrey & Grant.)
Lions ( White Lions ) / Motswari – The Wedge.
Leopard ( Machaton Male) / Java – Back of Java.
Leopard ( Hlakiso Female) / Peru – Giraffe Kill.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Woza Woza Cutline.
( Herold, Marka, Grant & Colbert.)
Leopard ( Kuhanya) / Motswari – Timbavati / Umbabat Cutline.
Leopard ( Ntombi) / JayDee – Argyle Rd.
Leopard ( Gijima Male) / Motswari – Tsharalumi Crossing.
Leopards ( Hlakiso & Brother) / Peru – Giraffe Kil Rd.
Lion ( White Lions) / Motswari – Motswari Wedge.
Lion ( Unknown Pride – 1 x Male & 3 x Females) / Peru – Argyle Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Termite Rd.
Rhino ( 1 x Male & 1 X Female)
We had a good feeling about drive this morning and we all set off very optimistic. I had chatted to John, our night watchman and local informant, who let us know that he had heard Lions roaring to the North East of camp but he said they were a very long way off and maybe out of our traversing area. Feeling positive we decided to head off and check anyway. Marka decided he would check directly North of camp in the area we had the tracks for the White Lions the morning before. Although we had found where they had crossed into Ingwelala he still felt there was a chance that they were in and around the area. Driving around in the North East we found nothing and as we were making our way back to check the wedge North of Motswari camp, Marka announced over the radio that he had found the White Lions. They were once again mobile directly towards our boundary and heading back to Ingwelala. Lucky for us we were not far and favoured our odds in getting to them in time unlike the previous morning where we had just missed out. We received even better news when Marka mentioned that they had in fact stopped and were now resting. Leaving nothing to chance we continued in his direction at pace. Along the way we passed a small herd of Zebra and a lone female Giraffe that seemed to be very unsettled and was continually looking around the area. Pieces of the puzzle started to fall together and when we arrived at the sighting and found the Lions full bellied it confirmed our growing suspicions. The Giraffe we had seen is normally to be found in and around Tsharalumi Cottage with its youngster. Obviously the scuffle we had heard the previous morning was the Lions chasing after and catching it. Although we could not see them but could hear them contact calling to one another they must have caught it very close to our boundary. Five feeding Lions would have finished off the baby giraffe quite quickly and the reason they returned to our side was because they came to drink at the waterhole at Tsharalumi Cottage, our self catering camp. Which was later to be confirmed by Johannes who did not see the Lions during the early hours of the morning but did in fact hear that they were around his camp and on further investigation he found the tracks heading to the water. So after my comment of the previous day that the scales had been balanced, they once again swing, this time in our favour.
We viewed the pride for a short while spending enough time with them to see that they were all well and in great condition, before making way for other stations to get a turn. The guys all worked well and quickly through the sighting to insure that everybody got to see them just in case they got up and moved across the boundary once more.
Not forgetting our mission we headed out to the West once more in search of Rhino. With all the attention the White Lions were getting many vehicles had driven up along the Western Boundary and none had found any Rhino tracks. They had found some Buffalo tracks though which we decided we would follow up on. Getting the general direction we checked the roads in the area and it was not long before we picked up on a nice herd of plus/ minus two hundred and fifty strong. While sitting amongst them they were very unsettled which could have been to do with the fact that we were upwind but I think it had to do more with the three female Lions and a young male Lion that were a little to the West of them that had been found while the guys were making their way towards the White Lions. No doubt this unidentified pride had followed and harassed the Buffalo during the night and hence their skittishness.
We did not visit the Lions choosing to get back to the task at hand, locate a Rhino! Unfortunately the rest of our morning was spent looking with no success, well that was until we had to head back to camp for brunch, we then came across three different sets of tracks, that we could have followed up on had we had the time. I guess it gives us somewhere to start in the afternoon.
In other news, Herold has taken over where Marka left off and found not only the impressive Machaton Male Leopard but also the young Female Hlakiso Leopard in two seperate sightings. Both being not the most relaxed Leopards during the day meant the sightings were short lived and only Herold got to enjoy them.
What can I say about this afternoons drive but WOW! Wow, wow, wow! Lets put it into perspective for you. Not only did the White Lions sleep off their indigestion North of Motswari and were to be found lying out in the open resting in the shade, but we also had Kuhanya making her way to Xinatsi Dam and later on through camp. She was to be followed later by Gijima Male who picked up on her scent. These were only two of the eight Leopard that were found in our traversing area by the end of drive, of which five were seen by different guides from Motswari. That's incredible and in all my time here I've not had that many Leopard found in a single day, let alone a single drive!
Personally, we had ourselves the most amazing drive. We were after Rhino yet again and were heading off to the tracks that we had found late in the morning. Chatting to Jacky along the way we discussed a plan of action and how we were going to go about things and where we were going to start. He gave me the name of the road were we should begin and the route we should follow. No sooner had we turned onto the road he had chosen there in front of us stood two Rhino! I don't know who got the bigger shock and it took a number of seconds before we all registered exactly what we were looking at!
After spending time with them we decided to pop in and visit the four visiting Lions that were not far from us on our Western Boundary. We found them resting in the shade in the same spot they had settled in the morning. There were three females and one adolescent male, who looked like he could do with a good meal, actually a few meals, as he was emancipated and literally is a bag of bones. Truth be told I'm still not sure who they are, Jacky thinks they may be members of the Voeldam Pride but he too is not a hundred percent sure.
Leaving lying cats sleeping we continued on our way South. Our next sighting should not have come across as a surprise as it has happened to us on a number of occasions and now seems to be the norm. Whenever we find Rhino in the West we go onto Enkombi Pan where we inevitably find Ntombi. This time was to be no different and a little North of the Pan we found her once again crossing from Klaserie into our traversing area. We spent quite some time with her as she went about half hunting and half scent marking. We eventually left her when we received news that a large herd of Elephant were to be found on Java airstrip.
With the sun getting low in the sky they would make the perfect finish to the most amazing day. Our progress in their direction was hampered as we kept finding a variety of general game, it seemed everything wanted to be seen this afternoon. After a nice sighting of a large herd of Zebra and Giraffe together we finally made it to the airstrip but we had unfortunately lost the light and the Elephant had long moved on. Checking the area for a short while we decided rather to go for sundowners and reflect on our incredible afternoon.
The rest of the guys had themselves as good an afternoon and it appeared that everybody out had a very special drive in one way or another. Herold spent some quality time with the White Lions, while Marka found himself two Leopards on Giraffe Kill. As did Colbert who had just finished following Kuhanya and was heading for a drinks break not far off when he found Gijima Male following the same trail Kuhanya had just walked.
My words don't do the day we experienced any justice but I can confidently say that it was one of the most special drives I've ever experienced!
I feel sorry for tomorrow!