Friday, 30 December 2011

29th December: Love It When A Plan Comes Together!

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Chad, Herold, Shadrack & Godfrey.)

Lion ( 2 x Jacaranda Females & 3 x Sub Adults, 1 x White Lion) / Argyle – Great North.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Long Rd.
Wilddog ( 13 x Pack) / JayDee – Argyle Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Argyle Rd.
Leopard ( Machaton Male) / Argyle – Buffalo Pan Access.
Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Chad, Godfrey, Shadrack & Petros.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Java Dam Access.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Mananga Cutline.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Blue Waxbill.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Dizzy Drive.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Vielmieter – Hide dam Northern Access.
Rhino ( 5 x Unknown)
Buffalo ( Daghaboys) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam.
Buffalo ( Daghaboys) / Vielmieter – Blue Waxbill.
Lion ( 2 x Jacaranda Females & 3 x Sub Adults, 1 x White Lion) / Argyle – Buffalo Pan.

Daily Synopsis.

Greetings and salutations, Grant here, I’ll be taking over the blogging duties for the next couple of days while Chad takes a deserved rest.
So………………………… hmm, what can I say. Think I need to start with how Godfrey found the Jacaranda Pride last night with the one White Lion. I arrived at dinner drinks to the news that Godfrey had found the White Lioness on his way home along the tar road. He had been travelling this way as it was the quickest way back to the lodge and a very good option in the rainy conditions, as the animals tend to be drawn to the tar road in the wet. The pride consisted of the two old Jacaranda Females, their three cubs and the White Lioness, who appears to have joined with them since the split from her sister and cousin. They were all on the Ingwelala bridge trying to catch catfish that had been washed down from the dams along the Tsharalumi River during it’s recent flash flooding. With Godfrey arriving at drinks late, no surprise there, I quizzed him on the prides composition and their condition. He mentioned they were all still together and looking good. My next questions was where would we find them in the morning, as while they were on the tar road we could view them but when they move either side of the road they would be entering into areas that we do not traverse. Godfrey answered positively that things pointed to them heading South, which was good news as this would bring them closer to our area and if luck was on our side we would find them in our Northern traversing section in the morning.
Fast forwarding to morning coffee, as fun as dinner and drinks was, we all sat together and worked out where we would check making sure that we had the whole area covered. Chad decided to check to the North and headed out towards the tar road where they had been the evening before, while Herold checked North of camp along the Sohobele Riverbed. Shadrack drove South and checked the areas around Argyle and Sohobele Dams. We headed to our Northern boundary on the Western side. Having all the area’s covered all we needed was the lions to play along and actually head South, and far enough to get into our traversing area. We were not asking for much! It was Shadrack who became distracted first when he found fresh tracks for a breeding herd of Buffalo that he followed up on. We also found ourselves tracks for a herd of Buffalo entering on the North Western boundary in a region that was not far South of where the Lions were. This was a good sign as hopefully the lure of a Buffalo dinner would draw them in. While we followed up on our tracks it soon looked like it was the same Buffalo that Shadrack had now found further to the South East. Following the tracks for a short while longer, mainly to check if any Lions were following, it became apparent that we were in fact following the same herd and not finding any Lion tracks we decided to head back to the boundary to continue our task at hand. It was while crossing the boundary that I saw Herold in front of us, he had found nothing on his side and was coming to give us a hand on ours. We both were making our way up the opposite bank when I stopped for a Malachite Kingfisher. Herold continued up and over and on reaching the other side he radioed me. At first I thought he wanted to revise our route plan but then his tone gave him away as he tried to feed me some story about the weather. He always gets this smile in his voice and I immediately knew he had found what we were looking for. Racing off leaving our Kingfisher in the dust we crested the ridge to find the White Lioness sitting in amongst her new found pride. They all appeared semi full bellied and the tell tale signs of blood red on the white coat gave away that they had obviously caught something small during the night. This was later confirmed when Herold found the remains of a young Impala, from the looks of things the White Lionesses got the Lions share. We spent some quality time with them as they slowly made their way towards Vyeboom Dam for a drink of water. Along the way one of the older females found herself a beached catfish which she picked up and headed off into the thickest bush to feed on while the others drank at the dam’s edge. Having had a great sighting and with a lot of interest been shown in the sighting we made space for the next station to enjoy.

Finding the White Lion was the last thing on my guests Christmas list and the rest of our morning was spent taking in all things big and small that came our way. We did eventually relocate on the herd of Buffalo which wrapped up our morning very nicely.

Cookies & Cream.

Our afternoon was to be a relaxed event with us heading out East as it was the one region we had not yet checked and it would guarantee a quiet afternoon on the vehicle front as not many people venture to the South East corner. Apparently we were not the only one to have this idea as Petros, Chad, Johannes and Giyani expressed their interest in travelling East. All our plans were foiled though when the area was closed for a private function and it left us scrambling for alternatives. We adapted our route a little but still headed for the South East corner. The initial part of the drive was very quiet and not only on the vehicle front but although we were not seeing many mammals we were driving through some very pretty areas. We checked along the Sohobele River and found that both Repair Dam and Scholtz Big Dam had filled after the recent rains, this is great news as now after the next big rains the water will flow to Sohobele Dam itself as it is starting to dry up fast. It was only after reaching our Southern boundary and turned back towards the West that things started to pick up for us. First we found a crash of five Rhino this included a female and her young calf, a sub adult and a very large male. We kind of snuck up on them and they were unaware of our presence initially but once they got wind of us they moved off steadily into some very thick vegetation. Having got a very good view of them all be it not for very long we decided not to pressurise them by trying to follow them in an area that was so thickly vegetated.

Shortly after the Rhino we joined Petros with a massive herd of Elephant that he had found to the West of us. We spent the good majority of our afternoon with them as we were absorbed into the herd. Leaving them we headed to the Hide Dam area to see if we could get lucky with Hyena or one of our spotted friends, instead we found two more herds of Elephant and a Daghaboy herd plus plenty of general game that included Giraffe, Kudu, Warthog and Zebra.

After a chilled sundowner there was only one last big thing to show our group, a Chameleon, as the kids would love it. This is where Western Cutline has an advantage over all other roads and we strategically left it on this occasion to look specifically for a Chameleon. Driving the long straight road back to the North it looked like our road was to disappoint us on this occasion, actually it did, as we reached the end of it with no joy. Having seen nearly everything else we were not going to give up that easy and decided to do a loop around back to the camp. This is where Jacky worked his magic and I still don't know how he saw it as it was a good seventy five metres off the road hidden in amongst the branches of a Bush Willow, we not going to even attempt to explain what was in between us and the tree. Needless to say we retrieved the Flap Necked Chameleon and the kids loved it, totally worth the effort. With our mission accomplished we could now return to camp satisfied that our guests had seen nearly everything during their stay. I say nearly as you will never see everything, I've not even come close to seeing everything. I wonder what new thing waits in store tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Grant
    Stunning photos.

    I see one of the lionesses has a bad injury on her you know what happened?