( Herold & Grant.)
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / DeLuca – DeLuca/ Luttig Cutline.
Leopard ( Ntombi) / Kings – Double Highway.
Wilddog ( 10 x pack) / Kings – Airstrip Rd.
( Herold, Grant & Chad.)
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Dizzy Drive.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Peru – Sohobele Dam.
Wilddog ( 10 x pack) / Kings – Cole's Plains.
Leopard ( Unknown Female) / Java - Java Dam Access.
Our intentions for morning drive were to first check the North East for any signs of the Jacaranda Pride and Timbavati Female followed by heading South on the Eastern side in search of Zebra and if luck was on our side, signs for the White Lions. Coming up with nothing but a couple of Dagha Boys in the far North East we turned South on the news that tracks for three Lions, more than likely the White Lion sub adults, had been found heading North East. As Herold was on a bit of a reccieof our self-catering camps he dropped Difference off for us so we could follow up. Arriving on scene and inspecting the tracks we were pretty sure we were looking at the White Lion tracks as we had tracks for two young females and the big track of the young male. From the gape of the track it appeared that they were running, initially we thought they may be hunting but while Jacky and Difference followed up on foot and I drove the surrounding area, the tracks continued at speed North covering half a kilometre at a steady trot. I decided to headed further North as I was falling behind the trackers and at this pace we were loosing ground to the Lions. On my search I found the tracks for the Jacaranda Pride and the Timbavati Female, they too appeared to have headed North East during the night. As I followed up I found where they had rested and the cub had played around running backwards and forwards. Things then got interesting as the tracks turned South but this was only for a brief period before they turned back to the North East and continued in that direction, which made sense as last nights wind had blown from the North. Keeping in constant contact with Jacky they had been joined by Petros and were all now heading in my direction. I mentioned to them that I only had the tracks for the adults and cub and there was no sign for the sub adults. Having checked all the areas I could with the vehicle I was then faced with a dilemma! The guys had picked up on a pack of Wilddogs in the South East corner and I could not have been further away. Talking to the trackers we decided that there was not much more that I could do here to help them and that I should try respond to the Wilddogs. Not needing a second invitation I headed South. I also considered me leaving as actually helping and it would be Murphy's Law that the guys would find the Lions when I arrived down South. It normally works that way!
Having travelled from so far we were able to go right into the sighting as everyone else had already visited them. I half expected to find the entire pack fast asleep under the bushes and we were going to view sleeping dogs, a favourite of mine next to sleeping cats! We were to be pleasantly surprised with all the dogs resting in the shade but instead of sleeping they were heads up and attentive. They even stood and shuffled around some stopping to groom one another while others whimpered for the same attention. We stuck around until they all got comfortable and settled in for their afternoon nap. We were also waiting on Herold to arrive who had bumped into Ntombi on the way and thus delayed his arrival. You can't exactly drive past a relaxed Leopard sitting in a tree without stopping, what would she think!
Our journey North was long as the temperature had now climbed substantially. I contacted Jacky, Difference and Petros to get a progress report. They informed me of the exciting news that they had found where the Jacaranda Pride, Timbavati Female and the sub adult White Lions had come together. They apparently all reunited in a riverbed before turning to the East and continued on their journey together. It explains why the sub adults had run for such a long distance, they must have got wind of their parents or heard their call. The trackers continued to follow up on the tracks but they unfortunately crossed out of our traversing area and we were unable to definitely confirm what the tracks indicate. So although it was a little disappointing we are pretty confident that they have reunited which is amazing news and we look forward to seeing them as a united pride. Well all most, there is still one Timbavati female missing but we believe she may be mating with the Maghlatini's further North and once she is done there she will seek out her pride once more.
I wonder what this afternoon holds!
Receiving new guests in the afternoon the whole process started once again. With the mercury topping out this afternoon well into the thirty's the only place to be was along water. We were not to be disappointed with plenty of general game in and around the dams of Argyle and Sohobele. So much so that it hindered our plans to head South for the Wilddogs, that and a Buffalo on Sohobele Dam wall that we had to reroute for cost us our sighting of the dogs, but we will get to that later. Had we known beforehand we would have never left Argyle Dam as while we sat there we encountered: Impala, Waterbuck, Kudu, Steenbok, Giraffe, Hippo, Crocodile and Elephant.
Spending time with each of these we then made our way to Sohobele Dam where we encountered the Dagha Boys while sitting on the dam wall. Unfortunately one of them chose to join us on the dam wall and blocked us from crossing. We therefore had to reroute and head to the East and then South which ate into our time.
With my guests having specifically asked to see Elephant I joined Chad with a breeding herd on our way to the dogs. While with them the sun began to relent and we received news that the dogs had become mobile, this was a good thing as it is always nice to see them active but unfortunately they ran off into the Tsharalumi River and it was extremely difficult to follow them. Both Chad and myself only had brief glimpses of them as they ran off and chased everything they came across. Although it was not a great sighting for pictures it was great to see them in action and our guests got to see why they are the most successful hunters. With the terrain only getting worse and the light fading we lost them as they once again ran off in pursuit of some Impala that took them beyond the horizon and out of sight.
After sundowners our drive was a very quiet one and the only person that had a little joy was Herold. He had found himself a young female Leopard near Java which he was able to follow for a while until it got wind of them and disappeared into the bush.
I guess tomorrow has now become a busy day for Chad and myself, with both of us needing something with sharp claws and teeth!