Saturday, 17 September 2011

14th September – Another Baby Surprise!

Photo of the Day

Hyena clan eating a buffalo carcass

Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant and Godfrey)
1 x leopard (Gijima male) – Argyle, Crossing Below Vyeboom
2 x rhino (relaxed males)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Java Dam
7 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Southern Access
3 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Leguaan Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Sweetwater Southern Access
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Southern Access

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant and Marka)
3 x lions (Jacaranda Pride – 2 lionesses and 1 cub) – De Luca, Argyle Rd
1 x leopard (unknown female) – Java, Java Dam
3 x rhino (2 female and 1 male)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Argyle Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Peter Pan Access
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Whitey’s Rest

Daily Synopsis
After yesterday’s pleasing drive, I had two new guests that arrived late and didn’t join that drive, so I had to start all over again...except this time, my list of animals included the whole cast of the Lion King; thanks Kimberlee!

Besides wanting Simba, Ed and Zazu, some more reasonable requests came in the form of a herd of buffalos – this was quantified to be more than ten, so sadly the seven buffalo bulls 200m from the camp didn’t fulfil that request.  Never fear, I always meet my guests demands, so I headed south hoping to get lucky with some buffalo and rhino.

Not having much success on a chilly morning, we struggled to tick off more than impala and steenbuck, but as we approached Java Dam, Petros spotted buffalo in the distance, and going around to the dam, we found a large breeding herd of buffalo moving past the dam.

Large breeding herd of buffalo
One bull went to wallow in the mud, but the others didn’t even stop to drink.

Dagga boy having a mudbath
We eventually left the herd slowly making their way towards Mbali Dam and carried on with the drive.  We did find our herd of wildebeest near Java airstrip, but as usual, they were skittish and didn’t pose for photos.  There was also a steenbuck as well as the matriarch hyena from the Rockfig Clan sleeping on the airstrip right near Java Camp, further fuelling my belief that the clan has the den site on the drainage line nearby.

Wildebeest, steenbuck and Rockfig Clan matriarch
Carrying on we had some lovely kudu bulls, as well as a lone giraffe before seeing the same two young male rhinos from yesterday morning.  

Kudu bulls and rhinos
While watching them, a herd of elephants came running past in the distance, but sadly didn’t stop and we didn’t get to see them again.

Warthog...or Phumba to Kimberlee
I wasn't concerned, as shortly before closing for drinks, the Mafikizolo Pride were found with a buffalo kill at Nkombi Pan.  It was thus a shock when I responded after coffee, only to hear that they had run off into Klaserie, leaving the large western hyena clan to finish off the bones.  Oh dear.
Even more frustrating was the realisation that I had missed the kill yesterday.  The hyenas that I found at Nkombi Pan during my coffee stop were not jsut there for no reason, they were there because of the lions.  Petros had even seen the tracks going in the direction while he was tracking the rhinos, but as it was no more than 150m from our boundary, he followed the rhino tracks instead.  I was so upset I had missed it, and now I had missed the Simbas (lions).  Oh well L!

Western hyena clan on the Mafikizolo Pride's buffalo carcass
Anyway, we did enjoy a lovely sighting of at least 14 Ed’s, I mean hyenas eating on the carcass and chasing each other around.
As it was late, we had to head back to camp, but we did see Phumbas (warthogs), impala, zebra, waterbuck and kudu on the way back to round off another enjoyable morning, albeit my first drive since leave without a leopard!
Fortunately, there was the afternoon.  Before that though, we went for a nice bush walk around Argyle Dam and saw kudu, waterbuck, hippo, impala and giraffe.
The afternoon was full of rather poor weather, and the clouds even dropped a few raindrops during the afternoon.  What started out to be a quiet and frustrating drive fortunately ended well and saw us ticking off all of the Big 5 in the afternoon.
We wanted elephants seeing as we had missed out in the morning, but the only elephants appeared to be in the south, so after checking the north for any leopards, we resorted to heading south.  While we checked up on Argyle male around Vyeboom Dam, we found nothing except very distant hippos in the water, impala and a few kudus.
Heading down the tarred Argyle Rd, we got to where the elephants had been and found nothing but rain.  I decided to drive into the block to relocate them, but picked a bad area and ended up getting stuck!  Fortunately a bit of team work from the guests saw us getting out without any hassles, then we carried on and found the herd of about 20 elephants, with a couple of young calves with them too.

Elephant herd
After spending some nice time with them, we went to see if the Mafikizolo Pride had returned to drink at Nkombi Pan, but we only found a few hyenas on the now finished buffalo carcass.

Hyena clan from the morning were still about in the afternoon, but there was little left
A bit further along the road we saw three rhinos before stopping for a drink in the rather miserable conditions.  Where were our lions going to come from?

Female rhino
We went to check Java, hoping to bump into Mbali, and Grant and Johannes had similar ideas...while we saw hyena and distant wildebeest on the airstrip, it was Johannes that got lucky and found a leopard at Java Dam, but it was a reasonably relaxed female (with the spotlight) that we were unable to identify – we all doubt that it was Java Dam female, and think it was likely Khlakisa female.  Either way, I made my way there and bypassed the last few buffalo of that buffalo herd on the way there.
We followed the leopard for only a short while as she was quite mobile in a tricky area, but we got to see her nicely enough for an “unknown” leopard.  We also had another motivation for leaving.  For some reason, Marka had driven the main road and found a lone lioness near Ingwelala airstrip and at the turn off to Motswari, so Grant and I raced all the way back north in the hope that she didn’t disappear and that we would get to see her!
We eventually arrived to find her on the tar road, but there was an added bonus for us!  She had called out, and out popped another lioness that was with a small 4-month old cub!  It was the Jacaranda lionesses and one of their new additions that we were not even aware of!  Unfortunately though, being such a young cub, we do not view them after dark with the spot light, so after only a few minutes with them, we decided to leave them in peace as they crossed onto our property, hoping that they would still be around tomorrow!

Jacaranda Lioness
We headed back to the camp rather late, but it was well worth it, and we all enjoyed the afternoon very to see what surprises the bush has in store for us tomorrow!

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