|Pic of the Day.|
( Grant, Shadrack, Herold & Giyani.)
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – JayDee River Rd.
( Grant, Shadrack, Herold, Giyani & Petros.)
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Mbali – Mvubu Crossing.
Leopard ( Gijima Male & Unknown Male) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd West.
Waking around four to the distant sound of thunder and looking to the north from my window I could see we were in for a big storm. It was not long before the wind picked up bringing with it the cool chill of immanent rain. As five o'clock rolled around so did a massive thunder storm unleashing all its fury. Sheets of rain fell horizontally onto the ground which at first absorbed it all like a huge sponge but it soon became to much and the water began to flow under the force of gravity. If the sheer force of the wind and rain were not enough to marvel at, there was the incredible lighting show that was well accompanied by the rolling thunder, to round off the perfect African thunderstorm.
Needless to say the show ran a little late and we had to delay drive. Not surprising when we got out there a number of rain rules came into effect with many properties being closed for the morning and there was no off road driving on those that did allow access. These precautions are put into place to limit the damage the vehicles could have on the now very waterlogged and soft soil.
This made for a very challenging morning but it is how game drives are conducted in many reserves, the Kruger included. It's back to “ Old School,” you see what you see from the road. The plans from the previous evening were to follow up on the Sohobele Boy's as well as the herd of Buffalo we found late in the evening, half hoping they would be together. This plan unfortunately was washed away with the rain. Driving the areas we could, it was not long before we picked up on Leopard tracks, these were fairly fresh as the tracks indicated that he had walked at the tail end of the storm which ended only twenty or so minutes before we set off. Despite all our efforts though he used the riverbed to his advantage and eventually proved to elusive for us slipping across our Northern boundary before we were able to catch up with him.
With not much else out and about apart from a small breeding herd of Elephant they became the mornings main attraction. It could also have been the fact that it is the first herd of Elephant that we have seen in nearly a week. Our morning started quietly but as the clouds began to lift we started to pick up on more general game as they ventured out from their rain shelters and we had nice sightings of Kudu, Waterbuck, Wildebeest, Steenbok, Hippo and Zebra.
The rain also brought out a number of interesting insects and I'm sure after these rains we can expect a whole bunch more. With an increase in activity at the base level of the food chain we can expect it to filter all the way through.
After a warming cup of hot chocolate we took our turn in visiting the Elephant. At first it was a very poor sighting from the road as they were feeding in a thickly vegetated section of riverbed. Sitting patiently things improved and eventually they made their way out of the riverbed and next to the vehicles. Who says you need to go off road!
With the clouds breaking and the sun coming out things got steamy very quickly and we took this as our cue to head back to camp for brunch and to spend a lazy afternoon by the pool.
The afternoon drive could not have started under completely the opposite conditions to the morning with it being blue bird skies, sunny and sweltering. With many of the properties having dried up sufficiently to be reopened we looked forward to busy afternoon. We headed to the North with a plan to eventually cross slowly to the West and then head South in search of Rhino, still believing that this weather was conducive to big game. Things started off slowly but we picked up on a fair amount of general game and some of the smaller things like tortoises and terrapins. With my guests having an interest in all things big and small my job is that much easier. Unfortunately it's not the same for everyone and with it being very quiet on the cat front the guides are under a fair amount of pressure at the moment. Chatting with them along drive there were stories of only having seen Steenbok, Giraffe and Kudu, with no signs of anything that resembled a predator. I kept reminding them things can change in a heartbeat, to which they responded it better had quickly as there hearts were close to stopping.
With the sun disappearing behind a cloudless horizon we stopped for a very chilled sundowner in the Tsharalumi Riverbed. On resuming drive we headed along the riverbed intent on finding Leopard. Running out of time and place's to look we decided to visit a place Victor, a guest of mine, calls Magic Pan, as a last ditch effort. As we approached the pan the ever vigilant Jacky called out Ingwe! Looking to my left there stood a sight for sore eyes, Gijima Male. Slowly following him into the bush we found that he was following another male Leopard who was walking fifty metres in front of him. At first I thought it was a female and was tempted to leave him and bridge the gap as I thought it would be more relaxed and a more reliable sighting but then Jacky pointed out that it was in fact another male. Not knowing who he was and the fact that Gijima Male was showing no interest in us at all we decided to stay put until the others arrived. Having had a great sighting of him we moved off slowly to let others all get a turn. As you can imagine he was pretty popular! We did spend a little of time trying to locate the other male but he appeared to have vanished into the night, so unfortunately we don't know who he was. It could possibly have been Vyeboom Dam Male his brother or maybe his dad Argyle Male, or even another skittish male that has popped up in the area that the guys refer to as a Cheetah, because every time you see him he is running at full speed into the bush.
Finally finding a cat we returned to camp for dinner, need I add we were all a little late. I wonder if this is the turning point and tomorrow all our animals will have returned, we wait and see!