|Pic Of The Day.|
Leopard ( Klakiso Female) / Peru – Tawny Eagle.
No “ Big Five.”
Waking to a rather warm morning the day promised to be a hot one, lets hope it was the same on the days sightings front! Once again being the only station in the North we decided to check North of Motswari Camp hoping to get lucky with one of our resident Leopards. Unfortunately the closest we got was a lone male Giraffe but not having seen one yet we took it.
Wanting to once again check on what happened to the Jacaranda Pride we headed to the North West. Along the way we stopped in at Argyle Dam and had ourselves a great sighting of a particular large family of Hippo, the sighting was further enhanced with a Fish Eagle calling while sitting in a dead tree on the opposite bank. Having connected with our inner peace it was time to move on and find ourselves something that would link us to our wild side, a carnivore or two would do nicely!
We once again found tracks for the Jacaranda Pride not far from where we had spent the afternoon looking for them. They were again playing with us as their tracks headed North directly towards our traversing boundary that was less than a kilometre away. Having learnt that you can presume nothing out in the bush Jacky and I went onto foot to track, make sure they actually did cross out. It was not long before our suspicions were confirmed and maybe sometimes you can presume! Well at least we know that they crossed and we could now spend our time constructively elsewhere.
Staying in the North we headed back towards the East zig zagging our way towards what was Sohobele Dam. Not looking for anything particular it was shortly after seeing a very nice Kudu Bull that Jacky turned to all of us and asked if we wanted to see a Leopard. Not needing to be asked a second time everyone responded enthusiastically that they would. He then proceeded to point to our left about a hundred meters up in a Knobthorn tree lay a Leopard. As if not to break the theme of our drives of late the Leopard realised it had been spotted and stood and started to make it's way down the tree. We moved as quickly as we could in it's direction but by the time we reached the tree it was lost to the long grass. With a short visual we can not be certain it was Klakiso but given the area we located her in and her behaviour it all points to it being her. Just our luck, we finally find ourselves a Leopard and it has to be the shyest one in the reserve, actually maybe in the world!
Hoping our luck would change in the East we headed towards the Kruger boundary and found ourselves a very big herd of Zebra for our area that were for a change relaxed. The highlight of our drive also occurred out in the East when we found a Leopard Tortoise that had crossed the road. We intentionally pulled up behind it not to obstruct its path. While watching it we noticed it had a deformed shell like it had picked up an injury earlier in its life. Sitting there it hesitated at our arrival and then promptly turned around and what I can best describe as began charging the car as it put down it's head and began accelerating towards the car running into the back wheel. I swear we all felt a small shift! Hoping out the car I returned it to its original position and direction but before I could get back in the car it had turned around and once again accelerated towards the car. This happened again on two occasions, each time I would pick it up and were it would normally seek the shelter of it's shell she continued to air run, with all four legs scrambling to get a grip. On the last occasion a put her a little further from the car and quickly returned to the drivers seat and sped off. She again had turned and was running towards the vehicle following us down the road, bizarre! Jacky says it was trying to get into the shade of the vehicle but I personally think the injury it suffered earlier in it's life may have been inflicted by a vehicle and it had a built up hatred, stranger things have happened!
After all that excitement it was time to head home for brunch, lets hope our luck changes this afternoon.
Heading out on afternoon drive in temperatures that had hit the 40C mark in the shade we did not hold out much hope in finding things until it started to cool off. We used this to our advantage though and during the unproductive time headed straight down to Java where Giyani had found tracks for some of the members of the Mafikizolo Pride to follow up.
We found where they had been sleeping on the airstrip before heading to the North East. With the heat the way it was they could not have moved far. While Jacky followed up on foot Giyani and myself checked the roads in the surrounding area to see if we could speed up the process as time is always limited on afternoon drive to track. While we followed up on Lions some of the stations from the South followed up on Wilddog tracks that were also heading North and into the area we were operating. Having checked the entire area, twice and finding nothing we left Jacky to work his magic while we set off to help with the Wilddog tracks. They were in a very tough, inaccessible spot heading North up the Machaton River so I decided to head on foot up the riverbed as we thought they may be resting in the shade of the thick vegetation of the riverbank near the water. Picking up the tracks they had walked directly up the middle of the river itself before turning to the East. It was shortly before they turned that I walked into a Dagha Boy that was doing what Dagha Boys do, resting in the water. Not to sure who got the bigger fright but we both kind of hopped up and then froze sussing the situation out. He took the initiative and slowly started backing away which in turn opened the window for me to also beat a hasty retreat. Checking further to the North we found no other tracks for the Wilddog and they must have turned to the East and rested along the riverbank. Knowing there usual pattern in this area we decided to take our sundowner stop on Java airstrip as they usually end up there at some point or another. It would also allow us to listen for any audio of the Lions as we were now also back in the region we had left Jacky.
Taking our drinks with a large herd of Impala and also our fast becoming habituated Wildebeest I sat there hoping for either a Lion call or Wilddogs to burst from the cover running parallel to the airstrip in fast pursuit of the Impala. Unfortunately drinks came and went without either of my wishes, hmm......... guess our fortunes have not changed, yet! Resuming drive and on my way to fetch Jacky as it was fast becoming dark Giyani informed that during his break further East on the airstrip he heard low growling of Lion and was off to check on it. I offered to check a road to his West on my way to Jacky.
Once again I got the feeling we were being played with and found nothing before getting to Jacky. To rub salt into the wounds Giyani then contacted me to inform me that he had found the Wilddogs, they were in the exact spot we had had our drinks chasing after one of the young Wildebeest. With us having lost the light and not viewing Wilddog after dark we turned back to the North after yet another very frustrating afternoon. Once again the game was in the area but our timing was out and things happened at the wrong times for us.
This now leaves us with a lot of work to do tomorrow as it's our guests last drive and it's a shortened one at that. So it's any earlier start for us, lets hope we have paid our Wildlife Taxes and things go our way in the morning!