Wednesday, 11 January 2012

9th January – Vielmetter on Fire!

Photo of the Day
Rockfig Jnr drinking
Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant and Herold)
2 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Mfene Crossing
3 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Lion Pan Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Mangawaan Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Western Sharalumi
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Vielmetter-Alberts Cutline

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Shaddy, Grant and Herold)
3 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride – 2 males and 1 female) – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
1 x leopard (Rockfig Jnr female) – Vielmetter, Bluewaxbill Rd
1 x leopard (unidentified relaxed male with baby wildebeest kill) – Vielmetter, Bluewaxbill Rd
1 x leopard (Argyle Jnr female) – Peru, Boolala Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Back of Java
4 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Mvubu Crossing
1 x buffalo bull – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam
2 x buffalo bulls – Jaydee, Tamboti Pan
1 x buffalo bull – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
2 x buffalo bulls –Mbali, Mvubu Crossing
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Western Sharalumi
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Entrance Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Elephant Crossing
4 x elephant bulls – Vielmetter, Western Sharalumi
1 x elephant bull – Jaydee, Vielmetter-Albert’s Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Hennie’s Rd
1 x elephant bull – Java, Back of Java
2 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Peru Entrance

Daily Synopsis

After a fair start yesterday, we still had some good game to tick off, and I was keen for leopard – as Makepisi male and his brother had returned to their favourite spot along the Nhlaralumi last night, I thought I would head there to check it out. 
Visiting Argyle Dam, we ticked off some lovely waterbuck and impala sightings in the area as we headed to the river.  There were also some good birds, and we bumbled about and enjoyed.

Waterbuck and impala near Argyle Dam
Reaching the riverbed, things remained quiet, but we saw more waterbuck, kudus, impalas, and even some distant giraffes; but sadly our luck with the leopards was not happening, and despite attempting to track them, we eventually gave up – even the three buffalo bulls we saw in the area didn’t play along!

Giraffe and kudu
As the south has been the place to be, we headed there and for once, even that was quiet, with only a few hippos and a herd of elephants to be found.  Grant was attempting to track the white lioness, but had no luck as the morning drew to a close.

Elephant herd
So while it lacked the excitement I hoped for, we did tick off eight new mammal species and plenty birds – also, I only briefly saw the back of Grant’s vehicle after three hours of driving – it was so nice feeling like we had the reserve to ourselves!
The afternoon needed to pick up though, and my plan was to head south towards the latter part of the drive, and I spent the first half in the north – the warm day didn’t do much to improve the game, and we saw almost nothing the first half-hour, before finding some impala and a couple sightings of impressive elephant bulls after having had a mud bath.
Elephant bull
Carrying on to the riverbed, we found a group of four buffalo bulls resting in Peru Dam, and spent time with them.  Only Giyani’s call to let us know he had found Argyle Jnr about 2km from our position caused us to move off, but sadly the sighting was a disappointment, as she was in extremely thick bush!  Still, we got to see her, and I wondered if this meant that her cubs were perhaps closer than we thought?

Buffalo bulls in Peru Dam
As Rockfig Jnr had been found (and lost) on Vielmetter, I headed that side, hoping for better luck – when Shaddy also found a nervous male leopard that had sadly killed one of our wildebeest calves in the area, I knew at least I had a potential back-up. 
Arriving at the northern end of the green belt on Java, we found impalas and zebras on the airstrip, and decided to enjoy a drink, leaving the others to enjoy the leopard that had been relocated by Difference and Herold!

Zebra's on Java Airstrip
While finishing with drinks, a lone hyena came walking past, and we followed her for a while back past the impalas and zebras.
Hyena popping in for a drink
Carrying on after drinks, the drive turned around!  We saw 4 of the big 5 in about 3km!  It started a lone elephant bull, and then with a herd of buffalo as it was getting dark, but as Grant wanted to leave the leopard, and Shaddy had returned to his male leopard to find him actually quite relaxed and feeding on his kill, I was the only one to take over the Rockfig Jnr sighting.
Buffalo herd
She got chased by a hyena, and we arrived as the hyena walked off and the leopard came down to drink before moving along the road straight towards the male leopard!  We didn’t follow her in the thickets along the river, but rather moved along to Hide Dam where a further surprise had been found by Herold!

Rockfig Jnr paying the north a visit :)
Three Mafikizolo lions were found there watching a lone buffalo bull, and we arrived in time to watch them as they got active and moved to Hide Dam to drink.

Mafikizolo Pride youngsters
The lions then picked up the scent of the buffalo and went stalking off after it.  We lost the lions, but located the buffalo on the other side of a drainage line, and decided to wait for the lions...we had to wait about 10 seconds, as the buffalo had no sooner stepped out of the thicket when, literally 10m behind him, the young male lion came following in his footsteps!  The buffalo was oblivious, and we thought we were in for some action.  Sadly, the big male lion wasn't as keen, and he stood at a distance and watched the younger lion stalk, but the buffalo eventually got wind of this and ran off in a huff!  The lions settled and I left them to make the long trip back to camp – late as usual, but so worth it!

Mafikizolo's having a drink before stalking after a buffalo

1 comment:

  1. WOW, what a great afternoon drive Chad!
    Love the pics of the leopard and the lioness drinking. And I also love the buffalo shots in the water.
    Awesome stuff as usual :-)

    Thanks for the updates.