Friday, 30 September 2011

29th September: Visualising Tracks.

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Herold, Grant, Godfrey & Petros.)

Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Motswari Camp.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Peru – Peru Cutline.
Rhino ( Rose & Maria + Large Male)
Lion ( Machaton Pride: 3 x Females & 7 x Cubs) / Umlani – Middle Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Herold, Grant & Petros.)

Lion ( Machaton Pride: 3 x Females & 7 x Cubs) / Umlani – Middle Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Blue Waxbill.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Umlani – Donga Lookout.
Leopard ( Rockfig Jnr) / Vielmieter – Double Highway.
Leopard ( Unknown Male) / Motswari – Motswari Camp.

Daily Synopsis.

Waking to a Leopard calling North of my room the day promised a lot. This was backed-up when we arrived at morning coffee and the waiters mentioned that they had seen the Leopard drinking at the water in front of camp shortly before everyone arrived for their caffeine fix, which they got to share with a group of Dagha Boys who have taken to sleeping in the clearing in front of camp.

With new guests on my vehicle that had been to Zambia previously and seen plenty Elephant and Buffalo but no cats, they were obviously after something with sharp teeth and claws of the feline family. Hoping to make their wish come true we headed to the North to follow up on our Leopard. While Herold checked to the East, Johannes and I checked to the North and the West. We knew it could not be far as the resident camp monkeys were still alarm calling in our direction. It was not long before Johannes picked up on a drag mark but on following up he discovered that Hyena had also picked up on it and had stolen it from the Leopard. He continued to check along the Sohobele Riverbed on the Northern side while I drove in the riverbed checking on either bank. We were nearly directly opposite camp when we simultaneously came across a Impala carcass hanging in an Apple Leaf Tree. A fair amount had been eaten and it was no wonder the Leopard had headed for a drink as this helps with the digestion. From the tracks we knew we were looking for a young male Leopard but try as we could we could not locate him. We checked up and down the riverbed a number of times but came up empty handed. The frustrating thing was that the monkeys were still going crazy and they could obviously still see him. The saying that you will only see a Leopard if it wants you to, stood true and we eventually made our way out the area to try somewhere else. I think after dark we will have better luck and we will try again tonight.

The rest of our morning was to be fairly quiet only picking up on general game here and there. We did however visit three Rhino that Godfrey had found earlier. This was his sole function for the morning and he made very short work of it, typical Godfrey! He also picked up on a nice Dagha Boy herd that is about twenty strong and also makes for an impressive sighting.

Petros chose to make the long, long journey South and visit the Machatons on their Giraffe kill. Not having spoke to him I'm sure he had a great sighting of this ever impressive pride.

We have a feeling the cats may sense that we are looking for them as while having our morning coffee we heard the distinctive alarm calls of Impala. Finishing up and the Impala still calling we headed in their direction to investigate. We found the herd looking into the Riverbed below Makhulu Dam but could not see what had upset them, which is no surprise given the terrain we were looking into. We continued around the area hoping to get lucky but all we came up with were the fresh tracks for a young female Leopard. So once again we closed our eyes and had to envisage her walking across the dam wall and into the reeds of the riverbed below.

Lets hope we can open our eyes this afternoon and see the actual thing!

With plans to head to the far South we got an early start but as is usual we found ourselves distracted by a number of things a long the way. We intended to head straight South to Umlani to visit the Machaton Pride and see how far they had progressed with their Giraffe Kill. The first thing that we made a detour for was a Hippo carcass that was found below one of the dams, from the visible injuries around the hind leg area it looks like he came to his demise from an encounter with another Hippo. The carcass had attracted a fair few vultures but they were struggling to get through the extremely thick hide. I'm sure over night the wonderful aroma will attract the Hyena's and they will help in opening up the carcass. We'll keep an eye on it.

Getting back to the business at hand we continued South but it was not long before another distraction got hold of us. This time it was the tracks for the three Rhino we had in the morning which we now found a little further to the East of where they had been. Having been a warm afternoon we thought they would not be far and spent a little time checking the immediate area. Not coming up with anything we toyed with the idea of setting Jacky on foot while I headed South but chose not to as we did not think we would get down there and back before dark. Specially given our tendency of losing focus and being easily distracted.

It was just as well we didn't because when we pulled into the Lion sighting there were not many vehicles responding and we were able to spend the entire evening with them. We were pleasantly surprised as they were active some of them feeding while others drifted off to a nearby waterhole to drink. It was a great sighting specially as the sun began to set and we had the Hyena's starting to arrive on scene. We finally left the sighting after the last two cubs finished off drinking with the sun setting behind them and they made there way back to the kill. We were all amazed that the mothers would allow them to stray so far away from their side with so many Hyena in and around the area.

We stopped off for a quick sundowner which we were fortunate to spend with an Elephant Bull that fed down in the Riverbed below us, before setting off on the long journey North. As we were heading home I'd had this feeling we would find Leopard. I guess because we were running on a tight schedule something would have to pop up and delay us. I was not wrong as we found Rockfig Jnr wandering through her territory marking it. We followed her for a while mesmerised by her beauty and elegance, getting ever later. She finally gave us the opportunity to leave as she went into hunt mode and we did not want to disturb her.

Petros and Herold had themselves an afternoon in the North where they had a great herd of Elephant of all shapes and sizes. By the sounds of things they spent nearly their entire afternoon with them as they went about, drinking, feeding and even playing. Herold also had enough time to visit the sight of the Impala kill opposite camp after dark. He found a young male Leopard there but he was not very relaxed and even with the cover of darkness he moved off to the thicker vegetation for cover. I wonder which Leopard he is?

Hearing that the Wilddogs are in the South we can hope that they will head North for us tomorrow.  

1 comment:

  1. Hi
    Thanks for sharing your days with us via this blog.Living in Canada I miss the bush and seeing your pics and going on the drives with you (in spirit) keeps me sane. Thank you once again for the lovely photos, especially the cubs.