Thursday, 9 February 2012

7th February – Leaving it Late!

Photo of the Day

Nthombi on the lookout!
Morning Drive
(Andrea, Chad, Grant and Shadrack)
1 x leopard (Nthombi Female) – Vielmetter, Western Sharalumi
4 x wild dogs – Kings, Generator Crossing
3 x rhino (Nhlangula male, unknown female and small calf)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Western Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Long Rd
2 x buffalo bulls – Karans, Western Cutline

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Andrea and Shadrack)
1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Java, Java Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Karans, Top Rd East
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Karans, Kudu Pan Clearing
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Borneo, Phineas Loop
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Vielmetter-Alberts Cutline
1 x elephant bull – De Luca, De Luca Access
1 x elephant bull – De Luca, Drongo Drive
2 x elephant bulls – De Luca, Mpela-pela Access
4 x buffalo bulls – De Luca, De Luca Access
1 x buffalo cow – De Luca, De Luca Access
1 x buffalo bull – Vielmetter, Vielmetter-Alberts Cutline

Daily Synopsis
Heading out to go check up on Argyle Jnr leopardess and her kill, I wasn't holding much hope of her keeping it away from the hyenas, and on seeing hyena tracks heading straight in that direction from over 1km away, it was no surprise to arrive at the site and find nothing left of the carcass, besides a myriad of hyena tracks!
Not much was about but impalas, and soon some fresh tracks for buffalo bulls drew me further west than had been my intention, and I soon found myself at Vyeboom Dam, well, what is left of it anyway.  There we enjoyed some baboons and a beautiful male waterbuck, before I carried on west, hoping for some luck with rhinos.  Thinking I was alone in the west (and not just meaning from a people-point-of-view, there were no animals out west!) until Grant piped up that he had three rhinos, not all that far from where I was; sadly though, the female and her very young calf (Grant said he could barely see it above the grass!) were a bit nervous and moved off quickly, with the relaxed Nhlangula male following behind...they were sadly heading straight west, and while I tried my best to get there before they crossed our boundary into Klaserie, even my best efforts were futile and we sadly missed out.

Waterbuck, baboons and Swainson's spurfowl calling
Still, we were in a good area for rhinos, so carried on looking for others, but we couldn’t even find impalas!  After coffee, it picked up a bit – Shaddy found some elephants and buffalo bulls, but not much else.  I was making my way back north when a call came in that Nthombi leopardess was found walking down the road where we had just driven before coffee; the road back there was not a good one, and it was already late, but we had to go see her...or at least try!
Telling my guests to hang on, we headed back in that direction, as did Andrea.  Luckily, we both managed to get there in time and our guests got to enjoy a wonderful sighting of this gorgeous new mother up in a marula tree! 

Nthombi showing her lactating teats
She soon came down and went walking through the long grass (almost totally disappearing in it it is so long these days!) and climbed up another fallen tree when she suddenly spotted a baby impala and jumped down to stalk it, but it saw her and bounded off, but she still made an effort and spent the rest of the morning patiently stalking the herd.  From her lactating teats, she still clearly has cubs, and Kings Camp reported seeing her tracks with those of two cubs in the same area shortly after the floods – so hopefully we get to see them soon!

Nthombi almost disappearing in the long grass!
Marka had been on standby for the leopard sighting when a small pack of wild dogs camp running past him, and straight for King’s Camp, and they were kind enough to let us go through to see them.  At first we only got to see two dogs in the Nhlaralumi, but they got up and moved off north, where, as we were leaving, we could see them interacting with at least another two dogs.

Wild Dogs!
It was already late, so we headed back to camp, stopping off once to enjoy a sighting of a Marabou stork eating a very dry, very dead fish that he had scavenged off the banks of the Nhlaralumi after the floods – that made us hungry and we returned for a welcomed, albeit rather late, breakfast.

Maribou stork with a dead, dry fish!
The afternoon saw us not wanting to venture too far, and tracks that had been seen for a herd of buffalo in the late morning going towards Xinatsi Dam deserved some attention...frustratingly, for the second time this week, despite attempting to track a herd of buffalos, we failed!  Petros was off following up on some lion tracks, but what we thought were fresher tracks ended up being tracks from yesterday, and he soon gave up, and together we went to look for our buffalo again.
After finding a massive elephant bull, only to realise he was in musthe (although, he was very calm), we carried on and soon found some buffalo bulls, and suspected they were following behind the breeding herd.  I was watching them when I informed Shaddy that I had buffalo, and he said he was sitting with a big herd eating grass on either side of the road not far from where I was, so I left the bulls and headed in his direction.  Going that route, we also found a female buffalo on her own, but ignored her in favour of the “big herd”...only when I later enquired as to whether Shaddy had left the buffalo herd or not, did he sound confused and tell me that it was a big herd of elephants that he had!!!  Oops!
To make matters worse, I didn’t even find them in the east!  We did however push on and see some nice zebras, a very full Majavi Dam with a hippo inside, and on Kudu Pan Clearing had impala, a wildebeest, a herd of zebras and a herd of elephants all enjoying the lush green grass!

Impala, wildebeest, zebra and elephants on Kudu Pan Clearing
Shaddy had found himself a male rhino on foot in the east, but it ran off, so he only got to enjoy more elephants there.
I tried to check the north-east for lions, but only found a couple of sightings of elephant bulls, but little else besides damaged roads.

Full moon rising over the bush, with an elephant feeding on a marula tree
Andrea had the best luck of the afternoon – besides a nice herd of elephant and a hiding buffalo bull, she also found Mbali female leopard on her way back to camp; our first sighting of her since the floods, so happy to hear that she is alive and well!
With many of our guests checking out tomorrow, we now have a bit of pressure to tick off some lions and rhinos...high hopes I guess!

1 comment:

  1. Well, good luck Chad!
    Glad to hear Mbali is well. Nthombi looks great and I can't wait for some photos of the cubs!