Saturday, 17 December 2011

17th December – A Sorry Sight...

Photo of the Day

Morning Drive
(Chad, Marka and Herold)
9 x lions (Ross Pride – 7 lionesses and 2 cubs on a buffalo kill) – Kings, Double Highway
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Tchwala Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Makulu Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Peter Pan Access
1 x elephant bull – Jaydee, Khona Bobesi
3 x buffalo bulls – Mbali, Western Cutline

Afternoon Drive
(Chad and Herold)
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Trade Entrance Pan
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Camp
2 x elephant bulls – Java, Crossing Below Java
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Camp
3 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Mangova Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Argyle, Crossing Below Argyle

Daily Synopsis

Probably the biggest surprise this morning was that I needed to wear a fleece jacket to start off the drive – in the middle of December, that is as rare as a pangolin!
I was driving some more Ingwelala guests, so anything would be good – in particular rhino.  We started off with a lone wildebeest and a large herd of impalas on the airstrip – I counted at least 25 babies amongst them!

Wildebeest and impala herd
Going past Argyle Dam, we ticked off hippo and more impalas, but it was generally quiet out there – some nice tawny eagles at their nest, as well as waterbuck, impala and nyala along the Nhlaralumi.  We also found rhino tracks that I let Petros follow up on, but as the tracks were from yesterday afternoon, I didn’t hold much hop – he still tried.
Approaching Makulu Dam, we saw to different herds of elephants, including one that had the sick/injured little elephant calf that was reported last month – he is still doing well and keeping up with the herd!  There were also nice hippos and a large croc in the dam.
Elephant herd
Carrying on towards the lions and their kill, we saw scrawny looking black-backed jackal before arriving to find the Ross Pride on their buffalo kill.  The male was gone, but a third extremely thin lioness had joined the pride – perhaps she was the one we saw yesterday afternoon on her own?

Skin and bones lioness
The sight of such an emaciated lion was not the most pleasing thing I have ever seen in the bush – even eating was a lot of effort for her!

Sad sight of the skinny Ross lioness
Of the now seven lionesses, three were knocking on death’s door – a stark contrast to the great condition of the other four!
Stark contrast between healthy and sickly pride members!
Carrying on after coffee and hearing that the trackers had no luck with the rhinos, we headed for home, ticking off another herd of elephants on the way, but not much else besides impala and another herd of wildebeest with babies on Java Airstrip.

Scavengers waiting their turn
Receiving new guests in the afternoon, I planned a nice chilled afternoon, and it was just that.  I checked on the buffalo carcass near Argyle Dam, but there was nothing left of it – at the dam, we saw a herd of waterbuck and a troop of baboons.
Baboons at Argyle Dam
While sitting and enjoying this, Marka radioed to tell me that he had found a leopard at the camp, and I needed no second invite to head over to join him – the only thing that slowed us down was a family of warthogs with a tiny piglet!
Arriving at the trade entrance, we saw Kuhanya resting high up in a marula tree, fat bellied and very content!  We spent time with her before carrying on with the afternoon, leaving her to rest off her fat belly!

Kuhanya resting in a tree 200m from camp
We headed back towards Argyle Dam and found three buffalos nearby, but not the elephants we hoped for.  Further on, we found a herd of giraffes as well as a nice group of waterbuck and kudus in the riverbed.

Giraffe, kudu and waterbuck around the Nhlaralumi
I tried to see if we could have luck with the rhinos that eluded us earlier, but no luck there – even the elephant herd that had been in the area disappeared, so I decided it was time for an enjoyable drink!
Heading home was not overly productive, and besides eating a few flying ants, the only thing we saw was a spotted eagle owl!
Still, not the worst start to a trip J

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