Monday, 5 December 2011

04th December: Back To Back Beauty's!

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold, Shadrack & Giyani.)

Wilddog ( 13 x Pack) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip Rd.
Lions ( 3 x Maghlatini Males) / Mbali – Windy Way East.
Rhino ( 2 x Males)
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Mbali – Windy Way West.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Crossing Below Vyeboom.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant & Shadrack.)

Leopard ( Kuhanya) / Peru – Sohobele Plains.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Lion Pan Rd.
Lion ( 3 x Maghlatini Males) / Mbali – Windy Way Link.

Daily Synopsis.

With my two guests from yesterday afternoon choosing to sleep in it was now the turn of my others to catch up on the great sightings we had from the previous afternoon. With cloudy skies and the threat of rain slowly dissipating we set off not knowing what to expect. Not far from camp we heard that Giyani was following up on Leopard tracks. We had head North of the camp hoping to predict the Wilddogs movement from the evening before. From where they were they usually run North into Ingwelala and then normally will run back through Motswari to the South. As we had not seen them at morning coffee we thought they must still be North of camp. While doing the loop along the Sohobele River I received a message from Herold who had found tracks for the pack around Argyle Dam heading to the North East. So we were not far wrong with our predictions just a little early. By the time we started to head in his direction Herold had found them not far from Motswari Airstrip. We would have arrived at the sighting earlier but we became distracted by two sets of Lion tracks that crossed from Ingwelala into our boundary, these were picked up my our budding apprentice and my tracker for the morning, Andrea. It looked like one male and one female which had walked soon after the rain last night so the tracks were not that fresh. Not wanting to miss out on the Wilddog we decided to head to them first and return to following up. Arriving at the dogs they had just got mobile from a rather thick area of Mopane straight towards Motswari Airstrip. This was about to get interesting as we had just come from there and there were a number of Wildebeest and their young alongside the airstrip and a great deal of Impala and their offspring as well.

Nearing the strip the dogs got wind of both of them and went into their distinctive hunt mode with their hunched position, ears back and pointed nose and tail. With the airstrip being very open both Wildebeest and Impala saw them from a mile off. Two survival strategies came into action, the first being flight with the Impala turning and running. This set off the chase and the older dogs sprinted off ignoring the Wildebeest and after the Impala. Having got a big head start the Impala were safe and the dogs soon gave up half way down the airstrip. The second strategy of fight was employed by the Wildebeest. First they gathered around the young enclosing them in a kraal. Then two or three of them stood guard and as the younger dogs approached they would be chased off by these Wildebeest. It was amazing to watch and we could not believe our luck as we sat out in the open with this unfolding in front of us. The young dogs soon tired of being chased and set off to their parents who had taken to resting mid way down the airstrip. With most of their belly's looking full the commitment to the hunt was never really there and they were quite happy to rest. With the youngsters still having lots of pent up energy they engaged in a game of chase and ran about the airstrip trying to catch one another. When they succeeded there would be a little scuffle and then it would be the turn of the captured one to be the chaser. With the conditions being cool the game became contagious with the rest of the pack becoming involved in some form or another. 

With the sighting not drawing to much attention we were able to sit with them for most of the morning and eventually dragged ourselves away when we received news that the trackers had located
the Lions and Herold was close to establishing the sighting. From the tracks I had held hope that it was the White Lions but I should have know better with this many Buffalo in the area. Herold announced that he had found the three Maghlatini Males on a young Buffalo kill. With us being in the immediate area we responded while Shadrack after finding our large herd of Elephant from the evening before now found himself following up on Rhino tracks. These took him South and then off to the West. As we made our way into the sighting there was a fragment herd of Buffalo that must have been split from the herd during the hunt. On approach the Maghlatini's were living up to their namesake as they were to be found in some very thick bush. We did however manage to position ourselves that we could get a good view of one of them and while sitting with them another got up and moved into a clearing we followed him but kept our distance as he was a little aggressive clearly having been left out of the feeding and waiting his turn to feed on the scraps. Having had a good sighting of the two of them and hearing the third chewing on the bones in a nearby thicket we took our leave for others to enjoy. 

Heading for coffee at Sohobele Dam I heard Shadrack announce that he had found his two Rhino. He is very much like Johannes once he gets going on tracks it is only a matter of time before he finds what he is looking for. The rest of our morning was a relaxing drive back to camp visiting our Wildebeest once again still on the airstrip. Apparently the dogs had run off North and through camp heading towards Ingwelala. I guess we can expect them for morning coffee in a day or two.

We set off looking for Leopard and Rhino in the afternoon but first I wanted to take Jacky to were we had the Lion tracks from this morning just to make sure that they were in fact the same ones that he had followed up on and not the White Lions. It was more to put my mind to rest that there was a chance that the White Lions were in and around the area. Jacky checked the tracks and declared them the Maghlatini's he explained to me that due to the wet sand the tracks appear smaller and the fact that they have small tracks to begin with and that it was a hind foot that I was looking at it also appeared smaller and more like a females. With that settled we set about our afternoons objectives.

It was not long before we received news that Kuhanya had mysteriously popped up on Sohobele Plains being at Argyle Dam our positioning could not have been better and we made our way to the sighting. We arrived just as she missed out on killing a Duiker in a Mopane thicket but looking at her swollen belly I'm not sure her heart was totally in the hunt. No Chad, I'm not calling your girlfriend fat she could just afford to skip a couple of meals as I'm sure she is having a field day with all the young Impala around at the moment. After spending some time with her as she went about marking her territory we left her and headed to the West and the Tsharalumi River to follow up on the two Rhino from this morning. 

Along the way we received the news that two Rhino were found but disappeared like Cheetah after an Impala on an open plain. So if it was Cheetah we were after than we were more than welcome to follow up. Being a lazy Sunday we did not feel like spending the time and effort to watch a pair of tails disappearing into the thick bush at high speed. We were sure we could find something more productive to fill our time. Remembering that a herd of Buffalo had been found in the area earlier we set off looking for them. Again our work was done for us as Jimmy called me to let me know that he had relocated them five minutes from where we were. Joining him in the sighting we parked in front of the advancing herd and sat patiently as they gained confidence and went about feeding around the vehicle. In fact, they got so comfortable with our presence that they started to settle in for the evening and many of them began sitting around the car. Not wanting to unsettle the whole herd we took this as our cue to move from the middle of them and head for sundowners.

After a chilled break we had a fair amount of time on our hands and thought that we would try our luck with the Maghlatini's. With it nearly dark we were going to need lady luck on our side for them to be in the same place. Arriving in the spot they had been in the morning they were no where to be found and the only trace of them was the smell of their young Buffalo kill, you know, that distinctive smell of fresh meat. As we made our way out we caught a break as Jacky noticed movement off to our left and on further investigation we found one of the males finishing off grooming himself before standing up and heading North. The direction they were heading they could only be going one place, Sohobele Dam. So we decided to stick with them as it would be a great sighting to see these three impressive males out on the plains drinking from the dam. We lost them a couple of times as they walked through a very thickly vegetated drainage line but we were confident our hunch was right and we headed off to the dam. It was not long before they arrived and made their way to the waters edge to drink. We shot around to the Eastern side of the dam and sat opposite them across the water and watched as they were silhouetted by the cars lights. It was yet another perfect sighting to add to the many of the last three drives. 

I wonder how tomorrows drive is going to better it's predecessors!


  1. WOW Grant, great day, and great update.
    Love the last 2 pictures.


  2. What an enjoyable read and awesome photos!!

  3. Really enjoyed your blog and the beautiful photos. Quite amazing to have such a plethora of beautiful beats so close by.