Monday, 31 October 2011

30th October: Slowly But Surely.

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Petros.)

Lion ( 3 x Sohobele Males) / Karans – Top Rd East.
Lion ( Xakubasa Ngala) / Argyle – Great North.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Peru – Hippo Rocky Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Karans – Twin Peaks.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Shadrack.)

Rhino ( Unknown Female & Calf)
Lion ( 3 x Sohobele Males) / Karans – Top Rd East.
Leopard ( Kuhanya & Unknown Male) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) /

Daily Synopsis.

Being my guests last drive everyone was up and amped for it and we made sure we weren't going to miss out this morning. Having not visited the Sohobele Males since they had killed their Buffalo we decided to head in their direction hopefully catching them earlier enough while they should still be feeding. As the morning warms up they tend to find the closest bush and go to sleep. It would appear the “veld” has flushed green overnight with all the trees in full bud and the green of the new grass breaking through the brown soil. We knew we were getting close when we found five Hyena's all resting at a nearby pan, they clearly come from Kruger where they don't see to many vehicles because as we approached they stood and drifted off back towards home. Arriving at the place of the kill the three brothers were lying in the middle of the road full bellied and out for the count. Apparently we were not early enough and looking at them they must have fed throughout the night, now suffering severe indigestion. Sitting patiently with them paid off when they became uncomfortable and started shifting around one roused himself enough to drag himself and his stomach to the nearest bush while another mustered up enough energy to walk to the nearby dam for a drink of water. While watching him we could swear we saw the water level drop as he drank for ever. Once finished he could not muster the energy to walk back and simply collapsed by the waters edge, leaving his two brothers to guard the carcass from the fast mounting vultures. Realising this would be as much activity as we would see we left them to their days digestion.

Being in an area that Rhino frequent we checked a couple of their favourite spots but to no avail. We did however find tracks for our large pack of Wilddog though. Unfortunately they were heading South and the tracks appeared to be made from the day before. We are sure with that many youngsters in the pack that they do not stray far and spend a fair amount of time down in the South East, we will have to keep a better eye on the area from now.

While we had limited success in the East the guys had better luck in the West and shortly after picking up tracks for Lions trying to hunt Buffalo they found the three young White Lions resting on the road clearly exhausted from their efforts. As is with any White Lion sighting it generates a lot of interest and we decided to let things calm down before heading in their direction. There was not a lot to fill the time between our decision to hold off and visit the Lions and we had to turn to the smaller things. In this instant it was the wonder of the Mtebele Ant that kept us suitably occupied until we could approach the sighting. As was to be expected getting to the sighting late, and maybe the fact that they had tried to kill a Dagha Boy during the night had also something to do with it, that they lay in nearly a comatose. The only time they raised their heads in our entire stay was to acknowledge our arrival. None the less it is always great to see them and although they are still looking very skinny it would appear that they have in fact had something to eat as their bellies had a slight curve to them. With the bush thickening up fast it should provide more cover and hopefully it will aid them in their hunting. Spending some precious time with them we eventually had to leave as our time had run up and we were once again making no friends in the kitchen.

With my new guest not arriving before afternoon game drive and my old one's not having seen Rhino yet we decided to dedicate the afternoon to finding one. We would try a little something different this afternoon and not head West where our relaxed Rhino tend to be but rather head to the East where we often see lots of tracks but very few Rhino and when we do they are very skittish and tend to run off. We had a plan though! Heading off South East we started to become a little concerned as we were not picking up any tracks, let alone any fresh tracks that we could begin following up on. This got worse when we received the news that Tshangula, our large relaxed male Rhino, was found in the West. On the complete opposite side of the reserve! Sticking to our plan we continued to the South East this was soon rewarded when Herold contacted me to let me know he had a distant visual of a female Rhino and her Calf. Accelerating our arrival into the area we found Herold who pointed out the tip of a horn two hundred metres away in amongst some thick bush. Only taking twenty minutes to point it out to my guests and with half of them still not able to quite see it, it was time for the plan! Jacky, myself, Victor, Amalie, Elea, Fabrice and Marion disembarked from the vehicle. All having been to the bush hundreds of times between them, this was to be their first ever approach to Rhino on foot. With the wind slightly off our back and the mother Rhino's attention focused on the vehicle, we first headed to the West to get the wind in our favour. Walking a wide loop we slowly and silently made our way around. Fortune favoured us on this occasion and the Rhino's attention was still fully focused on the vehicle, and the origin of the last loud noise, and we were able to slip in behind them. Finding a nice vantage point to view them from we could see mom looking to the North while her calf had actually lay down and was taking a nap. After all getting a good view we decided to push our luck a little further and approached closer. Once again we got ourselves into a good position and were able to view them nicely. Shortly before extracting from the sighting mom became aware of our presence, she was not completely sure of what was up and erring on the side of safely chose to move off steadily back to the East. All in all it was a good approach and a great way to spend the afternoon.

After a well deserved and very relaxing sundowner we made our way slowly home. Shortly before closing down we received a message from Johannes that he had found two Leopards very near Motswari's Airstrip, unfortunately he had lost them in the thick vegetation that surrounds the airfield. Herold took a chance and went into the area to try relocate which I will have you know he did very successfully. Not being far behind him I joined him in the sighting but only got a visual of a Hyena galloping in and chasing the Leopard. Having lost them once more we tried for a short while to relocate but with no joy. It wasn't until we headed back to the airstrip on our way home that we bumped into Kuhanya who was highly mobile after the male she was seen courting earlier. She would pause momentarily to call out and then head off nose down following his scent. Thinking the male is one of our skittish males, and the fact that the light draws the Hyena's attention to the area, we decided to let her go on her way alone and not disturb the honeymoon couple any further.

Later in the evening while we were at dinner we could hear the alarm calls of the Vervet Monkeys in camp, it meant she was not far off. We will follow up in the morning.

1 comment:

  1. What a adventure - going on a bushwalk watching rhinos! It's awesome to watch these impressive animals out of a car but it must be a unforgettable experience to approach them on foot!
    Grant, I hope your guests brought all their stuff back with them - such as sunglasses ;))