Thursday, 13 October 2011

11th October – Big 6 Day!!!

Photo of the Day
Jacaranda Pride still at the elephant carcass

Morning Drive
(Herald and Chad)
1 x leopard (Nthombi female) – Jaydee, Tchwala Rd
2 x rhino (2 females)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Umbabat Cutline

Afternoon Drive
(Herald, Shaddrack and Chad)
5 x Lions (Jacaranda Pride – 2 lionesses and 3 cubs) – Buchner, Buchner Access
3 x wild dogs – Borneo, Kruger Cutline
1 x rhino (male)
1 x rhino (male)
2 x elephants – Karans, Majambi Dam
6 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
4 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Bush Braai Rd
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Northern Access

Daily Synopsis
Heading out for my first morning drive in sometime, it was amazing to see how light it is at 5:00 in the morning!  While there was a slight element of coolth in the air, this soon passed and the warm sun started beating down on us.
The morning was a fair one – we had some very good big game sightings, but the general game was a bit on the scarce side.  Starting off with some steenbuck and impala, we made our way towards a breeding herd of elephants, and spent some very nice time watching them.

Elephant and impala herds
As usual, the herd was extremely relaxed in our presence and several individuals approached to within a couple of metres of us as if we were not even there.
Continuing towards where some rhinos had been found earlier, we ticked off waterbuck (our little calf that was born 6 weeks ago is still doing well!) and a large male kudu, along with more impala.
Herald had left the rhinos to go a bit further south to see a leopard, but we managed to relocate the two relaxed females without much effort and enjoyed a lovely sighting as they munched on the fresh shoots of green grass that have begun sprouting following last weeks rain.

female white rhinos
I too then headed down towards Makulu Dam to where Nthombi had been found, and got to spend over half-an-hour with her as she moved around looking to hunt – she went after some guineafowl but with no luck.

Nthombi on a late morning prowl
Besides that, she didn’t come across anything else, and as it was now very warm, she retired to the shade more and more regularly, and we decided to leave her in peace and head home for some breakfast.
We did find a few warthogs and impala herds on the way back, as well as more steenbuck and a kudu bull, but not much else.

Impala and waterbuck
The afternoon saw us needing some lions, so I decided to make the long and potentially risky trip back to Buchner to see if the Jacaranda Pride were still around, and to possibly verify reports that the white lions had been there the day before.
The afternoon started off with all of us finding our own buffalo around the camp, in herds of two, four and six.  Herald then headed east and ended up having a fantastic afternoon.  Not only did he find some elephant bulls, but while watching them, spotted a lone rhino in the distance.  He later approached and followed as the bull went towards a large dam and had a swim, seemingly very relaxed with the vehicle!

Buffalo bulls
After that, Herald carried on down the Kruger cutline, and while watching some zebra spotted what he thought was a log.  It turned into two logs that required further investigation...the logs turned out to be three wild dogs!  So much for the east being a bad place to start off a guests first drive!
I headed north east, and as I approached the site the lions had been the last few days, the presence of vultures in the trees indicated to us that the lions were still present, and sure enough, we found them resting near the road.  While the cubs still paid attention to the Land Rover, they didn’t run off.

Jacaranda Pride still resting near the elephant carcass
As they were very static, I decided to not spend too much time with them and to rather return later – that being said, one lioness was feeding with her head in the elephant carcass while jackals ran about in the background.

Lion feeding and vultures waiting!
Carrying on to search for other game, we didn’t have a great deal of luck – some kudus and impalas and then while enjoying the beauty of Buchner and the fresh green grass popping up, we found a massive rhino bull in a mud wallow.  He moved off, and we decided to walk in on foot, and enjoyed a great sighting of him from about 40m away, in the relative open as he stood alert, but unsure of our presence.
Big rhino bull
After a lovely sunset and sundowners on the Koppies, we headed back home, and saw that the lions were again eating on the carcass.  A lone hyena made an appearance before we carried on home.

Sundowners with vultures and a full moon!
The only other spotting was that of a spotted eagle owl, as well as our camp genet that came to visit in the boma!

Spotted eagle owl and feasting lions!
While typing this, I can hear the Mahlathini male lions roaring to the east, so lets hope that we can find them tomorrow!  Although I know I will be looking for the wild dogs too...fingers crossed as they had moved into Kruger, but there is every chance they will be back!

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