|Pic of the Day.|
( Herold, Grant, Wayne & Marka.)
Wilddogs ( 2 x Pack) / Kings – Ridge Rd.
Wilddogs ( 13 x Pack) / Kings – Nyati Pools.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – The Wedge.
Lion ( 2 x Mahlatini's) / Motswari – Wisani Crossing.
Leopard ( Mbali Female) / Mbali – White Syringa Short-cut.
( Herold, Grant, Wayne & Marka.)
Wilddog ( 14 x Pack) / Kings – Hyena Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Oppikoppie Rd.
Looking for a far less stressful drive we avoided any Lion activity and when we found tracks we called them in and let other stations follow up if they wanted. We decided to head to the South in search of a breeding herd of Elephant and take in things as we came across them. Having checked Java Dam and the airstrips for a herd of Wildebeest that hang out in the area with no luck. We decided to check on an active Hyena den that was to be found in a drainage line off the back of Java. No one had yet seen the youngsters but we did know it was active as we had seen the tracks for them coming in and out. We periodically checked on it but with no luck. As we approached the termite mound where the den is located we saw a Black-backed Jackal lurking about and not far behind it we saw for the first time two Hyena pups. They had what looked like the intestines of some animal that they were busy chewing on but whenever the Jackal came to close they would chase it off. We approached very slowly as this was there first experience with a car and they were a little unsure of what to make of us. With the mother present and not showing us any interest they quickly relaxed and became inquisitive at our presence. They would slowly approach the vehicle and try make out this foreign object before loosing their confidence and scampering back to the shelter of the den where they would stand in the entrance carefully watching us. As we sat there quietly they gained more and more confidence and allowed us to approach them a little closer until we had a nice view of the both of them sitting at the entrance of their den.
While we sat with them Herold and Marka followed up on the tracks for the Mahlatini's a little North of Motswari. There were a number of Dagha Boys in the area and they wanted to check whether the Mahlatini's may have caught one or not during the night. They eventually picked them up without a kill and heading North back home. This was good news as other stations where tracking the White Lions in the opposite direction to the South.
We were on our way to the South still in search of Ele's when we received a message that Wilddog had been found on Kings a little further South of us. After receiving an invitation to go view them we decided to head in their direction as it is one of the few things our guests still had to see. Pulling into the sighting our guests where very excited as this was their first time, in two trips to us, to see Wilddogs. Both Jacky and myself were a little disappointed though as it was only two dogs and did not quite convey the picture of this very efficient predator. It was lacking the cohesion of the pack that I was trying to covey as the secret to their success and some how did not lend any credit to my story. Sitting with them for a while we hoped that the rest of their pack would show up to illustrate what we explained. Unfortunately no such luck, but we did catch a big break on leaving them as a station further South contacted asking how many Dogs I had on telling him I only had two he responded that he was with twelve. Not being that far away and with not many stations responding we were able to head off and show our guests how you would normally find them. They were to be found resting in a riverbed all full belly's and bloodied faces, obviously having caught breakfast just recently. It was while sitting with them and having just explained the behaviour of them begging from one another that initiates them to regurgitate food for one another, than the pups began whimpering and begging from a nearby adult, at which she promptly regurgitated a chunk of meat that all the pups devoured within seconds. You have to love it when nature plays along.
With a long way home now we reluctantly left the pack to rest while we turned back North.
After their Lions Marka and the guys had a quietish morning, that was until he found Mbali who was once again found fast asleep up in a Marula Tree, not far from where she had been two days ago. Enjoying a good sighting of her they also turned to the North and headed back to camp for brunch.
Afternoon drive started under very different conditions with the sky's having clouded over, the humidity up and deep dark black clouds approaching from the South, something was a brewing. Receiving three new unexpected guests we headed straight South to try and follow up on Lion tracks around Java before the wind and the rain destroyed them. Along the way it began to spit and shortly before arriving at the sight of the last tracks we had to stop and put our poncho's on as the rain had become that little bit harder. While Jacky and Shadrack tried to follow up on foot I checked all the roads to the South East, which was the general direction of the tracks, in the hope of bumping them. As we searched in vain the rain got harder and harder and mother nature put on a wonderful display of lightening and thunder. Not having much success I headed back to Jacky and Shadrack who had less joy than myself and had gone to Java because there radio battery had died while trying to get hold of me. On my way to fetch them I received a message from the South that they ad picked up on the fourteen Wilddog again and that they were now mobile to the North East. Wet already and having nothing to loose we headed in their direction. Well almost nothing to loose as we would find out while still trying to get to the sighting when the dogs ran off from the station in charge in hot pursuit of a Steenbok. He was unable to keep up with them at the time but did a fantastic job in following up on where they had got to. While I checked further to the East, he found the tracks of both the Wilddog and Impala along the Machaton River heading in my direction. Sticking to the riverbed we found three Giraffe that were staring intently towards the North West. Dropping Jacky and Shadrack off once more to check the riverbed I doubled back to check along the bank again. Arriving back at the same spot as the Giraffe again, they were still looking to the North West. The next minute I see Shadrack and Jacky running out the riverbed pointing frantically to the North. Turning around I headed towards Eagle Owl Plains where we found fourteen Wilddog out in the open. The guys must have disturbed them as they soon returned back to the West and into the riverbed. Picking up the guys we made our way around to the opposite bank where we found the pack once more and with them we found a large male Impala they had just killed. Although they dragged it into some thick bushes we still got a good sighting of them. They did not seem that enthusiastic about eating and we are unsure if it was that they felt threatened, as there were a few Hyena's floating around, that they would gang up on and chase, or it was a combination of the failing light and the weather conditions or simply they were plain old full as all their stomachs were swollen. We sat with them in amongst the large trees of the riverbed as they seemed more intent on running around chasing one another than eating. Eventually the light failed us all and the heavens opened, we took this as our cue to head on home. Although we got soaked it was a small price to pay to see Wilddog! Oh, we also got to see Kudu, Steenbok, Giraffe, Zebra, Duiker and Wildebeest, not bad given the conditions!
Unfortunately there are no afternoon pictures due to the rain.
This will be my last blog write up as I head off on my weeks leave tomorrow. I will continue with a sightings report until Chad gets back on Thursday, so not to worry you will be kept up to date. Thanks for all the support and comments over the last five weeks, it's been an amazing time out there and I've enjoyed bringing you all the action. We'll catch you in the bush in a week, ciao4now!