Tuesday, 20 September 2011

19th September – Frustration and Relief!

Photo of the Day
Young Umfana male leopard
Morning Drive
(Grant, Godfrey and Chad)
11 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 lionesses and 8 cubs with buffalo kill) – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Sharalumi Crossing
3 x buffalo bull – Argyle, Crossing Below Vyeboom Dam
4 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Trough Rd (on bush walk)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Tchwala Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Grant, Godfrey and Chad)
11 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 lionesses and 8 cubs with buffalo kill) – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
1 x leopard (Umfana male) – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam
1 x rhino (Nhlangula male)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Sohebele Plains
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Jaydee, Tchwala Rd
1 x elephant bull – Jaydee, Tchwala Rd
1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam Rd
1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, 2nd Sharalumi Crossing

Daily Synopsis
It was with great excitement that I set out on drive after having listened to the monkeys chattering above Leigh’s house for the last hour – Leigh didn’t quite share this same enthusiasm.  It didn’t take us long to pick up tracks for a female leopard near Wisani Trough, and as the guineafowl had alarm called only 15 minutes prior to that in that same spot, we knew we were close.  Petros went on foot and followed up, and a while later, Tiyani joined him after Petros didn’t want to walk in front of a private camp, but on confirming that the camp was empty, her went back to where he had the last tracks and they actually spotted the leopard in the riverbed near the camp – she ran off to the east, and Godfrey and I moved into the area to locate in a vehicle, but after more than half an hour of searching, we conceded defeat having spent an hour and a half of our morning looking for the leopard!
We did see impala, kudu, bushbuck, steenbuck and a hyena while searching that area.  We carried on to Argyle Dam and Sohebele Dam, seeing two herds of impressive kudu bulls, crocodiles, and quite a few impala.  After coffee, the morning followed in a similar pattern of seeing impalas, waterbuck (including the baby born not even 3 weeks ago – its still doing well!), crocodiles, some giraffe and distant zebra, and even more distant hippos.  That was the sum total of my morning, and it proved very frustrating! 

Steebuck, kudu bulls at Sohebele Dam and our 3-week old waterbuck calf
Grant had better luck and went south to see the lions that were still on their buffalo kill with a pack of hyenas also being in the area.  He also saw a herd of elephants as well as some buffalo bulls. 
This put a lot of pressure on me for the afternoon, as I had a lot of catching up to do – fortunately, the animals all played along even better than I hoped – so while it wasn't a drive that I necessarily cherished, the guests were delighted with what they saw.
We started off with the usual impala and were off to check to see if the leopard was still around as the monkeys were still alarm calling.  But on hearing that Umfana male was found near Elephant Dam, Godfrey and I opted to rather head down there.
I wanted to follow up on a herd of buffalo that Patrick had seen while out on bush work, and after some nice impala and waterbuck, we found the herd where we expected near Sohebele Dam in the clearing.

Waterbuck bulls and large breeding herd of buffalo around Sohebele Dam
We spent some time with the herd as they all made their way back south before we too followed in that direction.  While we were checking Java Dam and planning to head towards Java Airstrip, hoping to bump into a cheetah that had been leaving tracks on the roads in the morning, Giyani called in a male rhino not all that far out of our way, so we made our way to join him.

Breeding herd of buffalo and male rhino
It was Nhlangula male, and we spent some time with him as he fed about before going south to look for the leopard that had been lost!

White rhino
Fortunately Godfrey was kind enough to not just leave the area and actually try and regain visual in a very, very difficult area!  He directed me perfectly, and using his last visual of the leopard as a guide allowed us to find him walking in the Nhlaralumi Riverbed!

Umfana male leopard
We followed him for some time as he eventually moved out of the riverbed before letting the other stations make their way in case he disappeared again!

He is a gorgeous boy - Umfana male
I then went to look for a herd of elephants that Grant had seen earlier, but I only saw a lone young bull.  I then went for drinks at Makulu Dam and almost got blown back to camp!  Considering how amazingly hot it was today – 40 degrees in the shade!!! – the chilly wind that popped up suddenly was quite a contrast!  We survived the wind and enjoyed some hippos before making our way back to camp – it was very quiet for me.  Grant chose to take his new guests to see the Machaton lions on their buffalo kill, and saw them, hyenas and jackals in the area – ticking off the Big 5 and much more in the process.
I will be returning to the lions in the morning, so something to look forward to in the morning, even if there is wind!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for another great update Chad!
    Umfana is beautiful!!!
    Man, you guys are blessed with awesome leopards.