Tuesday, 3 January 2012

02nd January: A Great Swan Song.

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

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

Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Vielmieter – Grasslands Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Pan Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Tchwala Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Blue Thorn Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Java Dam.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Scholtz – Scholtz/ Karans Cutline.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Voeldam Southern Access.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Vielmieter – Western Tsharalumi.
Lion ( Jacaranda Pride) / Peru – Woza Woza Cutline.

Afternoon Drive.

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

Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd North.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) /
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Trade Entrance.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Pan Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Peter Pan Access.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Khona Bobesi Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Enkombi Pan Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Albert/ Vielmieter Cutline.
Rhino ( 2 x Males.)
Rhino ( Rose & Maria)
Leopards ( Klakiso, Mhakipi's & Brother) / Peru – Mbali River Rd.
Leopard ( Umfana Male) / Kings – Eagle Owl Crossing.
Lion ( Jacaranda Pride) / Peru – Woza Woza Cutline.
Buffalo ( Daghaboys) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam.
Buffalo ( Daghaboys) / Motswari – Bush Braai Rd.
Buffalo ( Daghaboy) / Vielmieter – Entrance Dam.

Daily Synopsis.

With only three of my guests choosing to go on drive and having seen a fair amount in their three days we could afford to drive the roads less travelled in the North. So we headed to the North East corner first to check if we could get lucky with some male Lions that may have ventured South into our traversing area. Seeing very little in the area we returned to the North of camp to check if Kuhanya may still be around. Once again we came up empty handed and after about an hour, felt like ten, we had seen very little, actually nearly nothing on the mammal front. I say nearly, as we are classified as mammals! Choosing to stay in the North we headed towards the West maybe get lucky with the Jacaranda Pride who were heading in that direction from the night before. Driving around Vyeboom Dam we checked all the possible places they could cross but found nothing. While wondering where to check next we received news that the pride had actually been found a little to the South East of us not far from where they have spent the last couple of days. Judging from what the trackers told me about the tracks it sounds like they were trying to cross the Tsharalumi River to the West but found no way across and ended back where they started. Visiting the sighting we found that the two older females had rejoined the pride, as they had been missing the whole day yesterday, they may have been off hunting. This time round though the White Female was missing and we could not find her anywhere in the vicinity. There were tracks for a Lion walking up and down the river very close to Mbali Dam wall, maybe she crossed on the dam wall and continued West, as another station found tracks for a lone female a lot further to the North West. Alternatively, she did not cross and is lying up somewhere not to far away from the pride along the river bank somewhere. Lets hope this afternoons drive reveals the secret, my money is on that she is in the surrounding area.

The rest of our morning was spent looking for Kuhanya around Motswari as we received a message from Dave telling us that our resident Vervet Monkeys were alarm calling in the direction of the drainage line running alongside our soccer field. Scouring the area we came up with nothing, not even a track, seemed to be the story of our morning.

The rest of the gang headed South and had relative success finding what sounded like a fair amount of General Game plus a lot of Elephant and Buffalo. Unfortunately they did not find the Rhino which was their mornings mission. Having time though there is always this afternoon and you never know!

Well if I thought yesterday afternoon was busy this afternoon was manic! Receiving all new guests we were looking for a quiet afternoon in the North wanting to introduce them slowly to the wonders of the bush. Our initial plan was to spend time around camp looking for Kuhanya followed by heading out towards the Tsharalumi River to follow up on a herd of Buffalo that were heading in that direction from the morning. We would then finish off by visiting the Jacaranda Pride hoping that the White Lion would have rejoined them by late afternoon.

A big priority on Andrea, Godfrey and Chad's agenda was Rhino but they did not seem that positive as no signs for them were found in the morning and all their favourite area's had been checked. None the less they headed out once again to check those same area's to see if they could get lucky.

It was not long after setting off that the first Rhino was found in the far South, being so far away we were not even tempted to respond and continued with our plan. Andrea, Godfrey and Chad however made quick adjustments and turned South. When another two Rhino were found to the West we were tempted, as you never know when and where they will pop up. So also adjusting our plan we headed in their direction. Thinking back on it, it was a little bit of a misjudgement on my part as it was a little further than I'd like to drive on a first drive. Getting there though and watching these two very impressive specimens feed out in the open next to the car made the whole trip worth it. 

While sitting with them we could hear a whole lot of trumpeting to the South West of us, so finishing up with our sighting we headed in the direction of the commotion to investigate. It was not long before we found a nice breeding herd of Elephant. They had calmed down and were now slowly feeding to the North. While following them we could see another herd not to far to the North of us and when we eventually left the sighting we bumped into another herd to the South East of them, heading in opposite direction. We guess that all the commotion was the coming together of the three different herds as we could find nothing else in the surrounding area that would upset them. 

Having now drifted even further South it was time to return to the original plan and head North for the Lions. While heading North along the Tsharalumi River we hoped not to bump anything else as our time was running short and we could not afford to many more distractions. Thinking this brought Murphy's Law into action and a sighting of three Leopards was called in along our route. We did not hold much hope in seeing them as it was the very nervous Klakiso and her two elusive son's. They are very relaxed but whenever we seem to respond to them they always slip off into an area you cannot view them. None the less we responded hoping our luck would change. Nearing the area there was no surprise when we received news that the three of them had joined together and with the mother being somewhat shy they had moved off at pace and been lost. None the less we thought we would try counteract Murphy's Law with the luck of the Irish and drove off into the block that they had been lost in. Technically it was looking for a needle in a haystack but everything else had gone our way this afternoon so we held hope. Driving around in a large circle we worked our way inwards but had no joy. We decided to give it one more try and increased our search area this also went without any luck. It was only when we tried to find our way back to the road that Eagle- Eye Jacky picked up on Makipi's Male who was been followed closely by his brother. They were moving quite fast obviously following the trail of their mother and it was not that easy to keep up but ass fortune would have it they both came to a halt around a raison bush. This allowed us to get a great view of them and we were able to approach closer. It was only when we settled ten metres away from the thicket that we realised that mom had hidden herself in there. On realising her cover was blown she gave us a skin chilling growl and charged out the bush towards us smacking the ground with her paws on reaching the open she veered off and made for the cover of another thicket to the South of us. Her two sons seemed pretty unperturbed by the whole incident and continued to move around in the area. We gave them their distance as we followed them amazed at how relaxed they were yet how nervous and shy their mother was. We continued to follow them and they once again joined their mother. In stark contrast this time she hardly acknowledged our presence and continued to lead them to the South. I guess given her distance and keeping out of her personal space she is approachable. Not wanting to disturb them further we chose to head off as we still had one last visit to make.

With the sun having slipped below the horizon it was now the perfect time to visit the Lions as they should be awake and social. Making our way to where they were we found that they had moved out of the thick cluster leaf thicket from the morning and out into the open. The only problem was that they were still a little inactive only raising their heads to acknowledge our arrival before flopping down once more to nap. Spending what time we could with them they roused themselves from slumber on a number of occasions and it would only be a matter of time they would get mobile. We had hoped we would be there for it as we wanted them to lead us to the White Female who has been missing the whole day. I guess our luck had to run out some time as well as our time and we had to return to the lodge or face the wrath of the kitchen.

As you can see from the sightings details above, all of us had an amazing afternoon, one of those rare treats that arrive totally unexpected.

I'll be handing over the blog duties to Chad for the next week so thank you for all your support and I look forward to bringing you more adventures next week. Ciao4now.

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