Thursday, 29 September 2011

28th September: Off The Reservation!

Pic of the Day.
 Morning Drive.

( Herold, Grant & Chad.)

Rhino ( 2 x Males)
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Peru – No Name Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Kings – Hyena Rd.
Leopard ( Argyle Male) / Vielmieter – Martin's Rd.
Lion ( Machaton Pride: 3 x Females & 7 x Cubs) / Umlani – Middle Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Herold, Grant & Godfrey.)

Lion ( Mahaton Pride: 3 x Females & 7 x Cubs) / Umlani – Middle Rd.
Rhino ( Tshangula)

Daily Synopsis.

Waking to cloudy sky's and far more suitable temperatures the only thing we could complain about was the slight wind, which had not died down from the previous evening, but I guess you can't have everything! Thinking the conditions would be far more suitable for game-viewing we set off in a positive mood. Both Chad and myself checked around camp hoping to get lucky with Leopard before we turned our attentions to the West for Rhino. Herold headed North to check whether or not the Timbavati and Jacaranda Prides had not returned to our traversing area. Although he did not get lucky with finding their tracks he did pick up on two Rhino's that he got to spend a considerable time with. Chad and I both did not respond as we backed ourselves in the West with more relaxed Rhino's. Writing this down now I guess this is were we both made our mistake as for the next two hours we struggled to find anything, that includes Impala! At one stage we did pick up on tracks but after a short follow up they exited our traversing area.

Jacky and I continued South and criss crossed all the area's that they like to hang out but came up empty handed. During all of this though we did pick up on male Leopard tracks which we called in but ignored as any male that we found in this area would be skittish and more than likely run off, certainly not worth the effort. It was only a while later that we picked up on the tracks again this time we found where it had urinated against a tree indicating it was very recent. After following up for a short distance Jacky called out the distinctive words, “ Ingwe!” There off to the right of us sitting on a termite mound was this monster male. I quickly hushed my vehicle fearing that he would get wind of us and run off but he seemed totally unperturbed by us. Viewing him from a distance, so we all got to see him before trying to get any closer, he looked awfully familiar. As we crept closer he totally ignored us and took on the familiar shape and size of Argyle Male, but that would be impossible as he would be many kilometres from his territory in the North and no one had ever seen him this far South. Sure enough as we got to within ten metres of him there was no mistaking that this was our dominant male of the North here far in the South. Amazed we called it in, still not believing it was possible but sure enough there before us stood Argyle Male. When stations heard we had Argyle Male they responded eagerly but had to be told twice the location, not believing they had heard correctly the first time. After getting the location they then questioned the identification. It was only after a number of stations had visited the sighting that the rumours were confirmed! We are not sure why he has ventured so far South it could perhaps be that he is encountering pressure up in the North from another bigger male or he is broadening his territory, only time will tell. We also received news from another camp that is even further South than where we had located him, that he had seen him around his camp a couple of nights prior to this morning. The guys eventually followed him heading North at speed, I guess he wanted to get home.

Being so far South and hearing that the Machaton Pride had been found on a fresh Giraffe Kill on Umlani we continued South to take a look. The position that they killed it was on the Southern boundary of the area that we are invited to traverse. We had never been this far South and looked at it as another adventure. Finding the sighting with relative ease we found the majority of the cubs still feeding while the mothers lay in the shade and rested. The kill must have been made earlier in the morn as not much had been eaten and while we sat there the mom's actually returned to feed having recovered from their effort in the hunt. It is great to see this pride doing so well and the moms taking such good care of their youngsters, they certainly have become great hunters of large game. Having had our fill of blood and guts we made the extremely long journey back to camp having had a great sighting of this pride once more. A big thank you must go out to Umlani for the invitation and to the stations in the South for sharing this with us!

Our afternoon's mission was to find Rhino. We decided we would also try include Zebra so we headed out to the open areas of the East. This also happened to be the area that the two Rhino from the morning were also headed. Being another very warm afternoon we thought we would get lucky around one of the few watering spots in the area.

While we stuck around the North, Godfrey and Herold chose to head South and visit the Machatons and their Giraffe kill. I'm not sure where Petros disappeared to as I did not hear from him the whole afternoon.

Our drive was to be a very quiet one and we once again only found tracks that led us further and further South. Having checked all the drinking spots and finally reaching our Southern Boundary we decided to turn to the West and try our luck there. It's amazing how much time you have when you are seeing nothing. Approaching the central area of our traversing we picked up on tracks for two Rhino heading to the West towards Java Dam but before reaching the dam. The voice of, the previously thought to be lost, Petros came over the radio to inform me that he had located Tshangula, one of our relaxed male Rhino's. With the light failing us we did not waste any time in trying to follow up on the tracks we had found and headed off in his direction. With the majority of the stations in the South we had him all to ourselves and we got to spend the remainder of our afternoon with him as he fed slowly down to one of the dams.

Having completed our mission we headed back North on a feeling that Kuhanya was to be found around Motswari, unfortunately that feeling was off as we found nothing in and around the camp. We did however stumble across a beautiful dinner in the bush which we promptly invited ourselves to and spent the rest of our evening enjoying a traditional South African Braai out in the African bush. Thanks to Leigh and your team it was a great evening, it looked fantastic and you even got the weather to play along!

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