Friday, 28 October 2011

25th October – Down the Drain!

Photo of the Day
Sohebele Lion tongue...yes, it was that quiet today!

Morning Drive
(Petros, Shadrack, Herald, Grant and Chad)
1 x leopard (Argyle male) – Peru, Wild West
2 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Wilkins Way
5 x buffalo bulls – Karans, Old Closed Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Shadrack, Herald, Grant and Chad)
3 x lions (Sohebele males) – Karans, Kudu Pan Clearing
1 x leopard (Nthombi female) – Jaydee, Ndlovu Rd
2 x buffalo – Vielmetter, Steep Sharalumi

Daily Synopsis
Following on from yesterday’s rather quiet day, today disappointingly was even worse from a game viewing point of view!
Once more, we tried to leave before the heat of the day settled in, and considering that there had been lions roaring on the airstrip and to the north of camp most of the night (I am taking John and Grants word for it – me, not any of the other guides or guests heard them!), we went to check.
We found tracks that appeared to be for a female lion heading all the way north, and straight towards Ingwelala/Goedehoop.  Tracks for a male came from the south, straight to the staff village and then towards the airstrip where they turned north.  The tracks were disjointed, and we are thinking that it was the Xakubasa White lions that were maybe moving north, but who would have been roaring?
Seeing nothing but a lone steenbuck for the first 45 minutes, I needed to go check some other areas, so started heading west towards Vyeboom Dam, where, at least we saw some impala! 
A leopard was then called in near Voel Dam, heading west towards the western boundary; it was disappointingly Argyle Male!  Disappointingly because once more, this was way out of his regular territory – I just hope he doesn’t take another 20km sojourn down south!  I took a chance and made my way towards him, but it appears that everyone else had the same idea!  Even though it was heating up, and he was slowing down, he continued steadily west.  Would we make it?  We were on standby, and enjoying a herd of kudus, when he went static on a termite mound.  Great!  Or maybe not, as a couple minutes later he was up and going straight west – I was called into the sighting, and literally joined when he was about 70m from Argyle Rd.  We managed all of 1 minute with him as he walked towards the road, but rather than crossing, he simply walked into one of the culverts (drain pipes that go under the road) and disappeared!!!  I tried to see if he had gone through, or gone to sleep inside, but had no fact, my bad luck continued!  Not only had the sighting been frustrating and a waste of my time, but I also unknowingly dropped my Ray Bans when leant over to see if he was in the drain...being an amazing tracker, I did manage to track down my glasses later...just a pity they were a lot flatter than they were before I dropped them: so in essence, that leopard owes me $200...thanks Argyle male J
Leaving the area feeling dejected, I headed south, hoping some of the southern leopards would show themselves, but all that did pop up was a herd of zebras on Argyle Rd, a small group of giraffe, and impala.  I headed towards Makulu Dam for coffee with waterbuck, hippos and crocodiles.
Heading back to camp was equally quiet, and we saw only more impala, steenbuck and a lovely male nyala feeding in the open next to the road.  To give you an idea of how quiet it was, I didn’t take a single photo during the morning drive!
Seeing as the west was dead, and having some “new” guests (Andreas, Monika, Kieron and Celina are regular visitors to Motswari J) that had seen some wonderful things in the southern Timbavati, I decided to try something different and go and check the east again...maybe those twenty wild dogs would still be around?
It was very warm, and even the kudus seemed reluctant to leave their shady spots as we drove past them on the road.  We also saw, you guessed it, steenbuck and a few impala (what a turn up for the books!).  While wanting to check the eastern waterholes for rhinos, we went past Borneo Camp, where the camp attendant told us that he had seen some lions while driving between Motswari and Borneo, so we went to see if we could relocate – Marka beat us to it, and seeing where they were lying, we told him we would return later, and so resumed our rhino search.
Kudu in the shade
Despite finding fresh mud and tracks, we didn’t have any luck, and in fact, saw nothing but a herd of zebras – it was indeed even quieter in the east than the west!
After drinks, the lions had moved into a better spot, and were lying in the open on Kudu Pan Clearing.  We spent a while with them as they all lay alert to the presence of something that we couldn’t see. 

Sohebele brother
One brother sauntered over to join the other two, another moved off a few metres, and I got very excited when he appeared to start roaring, but sadly spotted after one “uummmffff”.  So still I wait to hear these boys roaring!

Sohebele males...not quite yet ready to roar for me!
We headed back to the camp, and saw nothing else.  Grant and Herald got to see Nthombi leopardess near Makulu Dam, but besides that, it was a dreadfully quiet day.  Surely tomorrow can only get better...

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