Saturday, 10 December 2011

09th December: So It Begins.

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.

( Herold.)

Leopard ( Kuhanya) / Peru – Timbavati/ Umbabat Cutline.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Motswari Southern Access.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Shadrack.)

Lion ( Timbavati Female) / Argyle – Argyle Dam Lookout.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Concrete Crossing.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Karans – Karans Northern Access.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Sohobele Plains.

Daily Synopsis.

Not driving this morning but still waking at my usual four fifteen I waited for it to become light and then set off with Andrea on a sunrise run. It's always beautiful to get out first thing as there seems to be a cleanliness about the bush with it being cool and calm. As we made our way up the airstrip I picked up very fresh tracks for Leopard and while my mind was computing these facts Andrea said, “ Leopard!” I thought to myself wow this young lady is getting good as she could pick up the track and identify within seconds while running, impressive! Looking at her to question how she could be so sure, so quickly, she continued to look down the road and mentioned that she had seen it about seventy metres away cross the road from the airstrip into surrounding bush. Well at least I was correct in thinking the tracks were fresh. We crossed to the far side of the airstrip and continued with our run on our return we kept a sharp eye out to see if we could see it again. Sure enough as we came up a ridge there stood Kuhanya not far from where Andrea had initially seen her. She sat on a mound on the side of the airstrip and watched with what looked like fascination at these two creatures running backwards and forwards. We had also now stopped to watch her and after a minute or two she stood unperturbed and casually walked along the road to the South and off into the surrounding bush, she did not even turn around to give us a second look. With the adrenalin pumping we finished off our run and I radioed Herold, who had just set off on drive, that if he wanted Leopard there was one on our airstrip.

They later found her further South and it appeared to be a Leopard morning as Giyani then found Kuhanya's mother, Mbali, near Java. While responding to Mbali, Foreman bumped Rockfig Jnr, slightly further South. With it warming up all three were left resting in trees. It will be interesting to see how many of them are around for this afternoons drive.

With our new guests plane being delayed we set off on drive a little later than others and we had hoped that the both Herold and Shadrack would have done all the hard work by the time we got out and all we need do is respond to their sightings. With new guests they had set off to try and relocate on Kuhanya who had been found not far from camp this morning. With it being our guests first drive there was no real pressure on us as everything was new and exciting and we could sit and spend time with the more common things and go through all their little intricacies. We started off with a nice herd of male Kudu on the airstrip mixed amongst a bachelor group of Impala which highlighted the differences very nicely.

We then proceeded to Argyle Dam hoping to follow up on the Buffalo from the morning and not wanting to drift to far from Herold and Shadrack as with both of them looking for Kuhanya it should only be a matter of time. Arriving to a very quiet dam, which we should not have been surprised at, as the weather had turned and it was rather cool, cloudy and windy. We did find some nice birds though and we sat there chatting about the Grey Heron, Africa Jacana's, Egyptian Goose, Black Smith Lapwings and two Saddle-Billed Storks. While sitting there I did mention to them that on a warm day you need not travel far and if you sit at the water long enough you would be amazed at what would show up.

Shortly before leaving a Giraffe popped up on the opposite side of the dam. As we sat their it seemed transfixed with something to the North of it, not paying us any attention at all. We thought something may be up but chose to ignore it. It was only when we went around the corner that we saw another Giraffe that was also looking fixedly to the North. We decided to drive round the dam to investigate but as we entered into the riverbed something caught the edge of my eye. It was out of place and I'd not seen this shape or colour in that position before. Being a very long way off I reached for my binoculars to check it out. Focussing on the spot it very quickly took on the distinctive shape of a Lioness sitting in the grass. She was perched above a rock face looking down at the Giraffe on the plain below. At first from the shape of the face and the colour I thought it was one of the White Lions but not say anything as I wanted to first confirm it. So we rushed across the riverbed and made our way to the lookout. There we found a very relaxed female, unfortunately not a White Lion but definitely family. The way the Giraffe were looking around in all directions we thought that she was not alone and that the rest of her pride must be in the area but with the guys checking the surrounding area as they made their way to the sighting no other track or sign was found to substantiate this. After Shadrack and Herolds visit they mentioned that this was the same Lion they had seen a couple of weeks ago mating with a Maghlatini Male on our Northern boundary.

With us checking the area for any other pride members on our way out we also found nothing and decided to head towards a small Buffalo herd that had now been found resting in the Tsharalumi Riverbed not far off. We spent a fair amount of time with them as the majority of the herd sat and ruminated while others sparred and chased one another around, the cooler weather facilitating their playful mood.

With sundowners looming we decided to head back to the East towards Sohobele Plains and take a strategic drinks stop. Approaching our intended drinks stop we found a nice Elephant Bull feeding on the grass of the open plains. 

Our choice of stop put us in a good spot as it would allow us to hear any audio should the Lion start calling and it was also in the region that Kuhanya had been heading. After drinks we set about looking for either one as we drove a large zig zag route back towards the lodge. This unfortunately yielded very little and left us with something to follow up in the morning.

On a side note, while Shadrack was collecting his guests for dinner they saw a large male Leopard sitting next to reception. He was not shy and as they approached he casually stood and ambled off behind the building. From what Shadrack described to me and the behaviour it could possibly be Argyle Male. It could also be another large male in the area following up on Kuhanya who has been calling out for a male suitor the past couple of days. We wait and see.

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