Wednesday, 19 October 2011

16th October – Big Animals are Back!!!

Photo of the Day
Elephant calf on the run
Morning Drive
(Grant and Chad)
2 x rhino (2 females)
3 x rhino (1 male, 1 female and calf)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Karans, Top Rd East
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Northern Access
1 x elephant bull – De Luca, Western Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Karans, Old Closed Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Shadrack, Marka, Grant and Chad)
1 x leopard (Thumbela female with impala and two steenbuck kills!) – King’s, Ridge Rd
1 x leopard (Klakisa’s boy) – Mbali, Mvubu Crossing
2 x rhino (2 females)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Leopard Rock Hide
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Elephant Crossing
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Buffalo Kill Rd

Daily Synopsis
Something that has been notably absent of late has been the large herds of buffalo and elephants, but today saw the return of these animals in a big way!
Heading east to follow up on the large breeding herd of buffalo that was being trailed by the Sohebele male lions last night, we did struggle to find them at first, and while we had tracks for the lions, we didn’t have luck finding them either.  What we ticked off as usual were some nice impala, steenbuck, three separate sightings of lone elephant bulls, and also a lone zebra hanging out with the impalas.

Two different elephant bulls, and zebra with impala
The buffalo herd was eventually located not far from where we were operating, and we went to view them as they slowly awoke from their nights rest.  It was difficult to gauge the size of the herd, but there appeared to be at least 300-plus of them.

Buffalo herd in the east
While watching them, Johannes joined me and found three rhinos amidst the buffalos!  Only the bull was slightly relaxed and we viewed him briefly before he moved off.

Rhino bull
After that, I headed out west, hoping to find some more relaxed rhinos, and a leopard of course!  Sadly, my morning saw neither of these wishes coming to fruition, but we did see nice giraffe, waterbuck, kudu and some mongooses.
Male waterbuck
Other sightings for the morning included a massive herd of buffalo moving in from Klaserie as well as some large herds of elephants on the Nhlaralumi riverbed that drew our attention in the afternoon.
I took it relatively easy in the afternoon, just having one guest on my vehicles.  We saw a lot of impala, bushbuck, plenty of waterbuck, good birds (including our tawny eagle chick that has now fledged and is flying well, but really struggles to land properly!!!) and steenbuck as I headed towards the riverbed.
We bypassed a small herd of elephants in favour of a large herd that was feeding in the riverbed near Elephant Crossing, and got to spend some quality time with them as they casually fed near us.

Elephants feeding in the Nhlaralumi
The herd also had many small babies that besides being entertaining, were just so cute...yes, a game ranger just said that!!!

Adorable elephant calves in the herd
Carrying on a kilometre or so upstream, we found ourselves in the middle of a massive herd of over 600 buffalo! 

Massive buffalo herd in the Nhlaralumi
It was a wonderful setting to view this impressive herd as they made the most of the riverbeds constant greenery.

Buffalo herd enjoy the green grazing
I had no sooner mentioned that there was a spotted buffalo that moved with this herd when we actually spotted her ourselves, and got to see this odd buffalo as she moved up and fed next to the Land Rover.

Our spotted buffalo cow
Moving on we came across some monkeys, a troop of baboons, a flock of ground hornbills and a giraffe.

Baboon troop
After drinks, I decided to go and see a leopard, namely Thumbela, down in the south.  Impressively, she had some food.  It was not just that she had managed to take a fully grown female impala up a tree, but also that she had another kill hanging next to it!  That of a steenbuck.  Even more impressive was that she wasn't even eating on those kills, but rather on a third kill that she had stashed under a bush not far away!  Wow, three kills at once – quite a huntress J
Sadly, she was feeding on the kill on the ground, and as we don’t view them after dark with kills on the ground, I was unable to view her – would have helped to know this before I drove all the way down to see her, but at least we know that she will be around for the next four or five days eating on her bounty!
On the way back to camp, we managed to spot another African wild cat as well as a small-spotted genet.  Grant tracked down two rhinos, and Shadrack found a male leopard near Mbali Dam, although it quickly moved into the reeds.  Despite the lack of good cats, it was wonderful to see all the large animals out in force - even Johannes found the large herd of buffalo and three rhinos in the east again!  Here is to hoping that some big cats pitch up in the area to make the most of all this food!

1 comment:

  1. Man, I love Thumbela... Pity it was after dark and there are no pictures :)

    Thanks for the updates Chad even though you take your time and blame the internet :)