Friday, 10 February 2012

8th February – Terrific Trackers and Lions Killing an Impala!

Photo of the Day
Jacaranda Youngster after their impala kill
Morning Drive
(Andrea, Chad and Shadrack)
3 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride – 2 males and 1 female) – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
4 x rhino (4 bulls)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Piva Plains
2 x buffalo bulls – Java, Java Pump Pan

Afternoon Drive
(Andrea and Shadrack)
5 x lions (Jacaranda Pride killing an impala) – Peru, Wilkins Way
1 x buffalo bull – Argyle, Rudi’s Rd

Daily Synopsis
Needing lion and rhino for my guests, I was stuck in two minds, but I headed south, partly for a change of scenery, and partly as this didn’t commit me to any one cause!  The morning was a beautiful one, but the animals didn’t seem to notice at first, as there was not much about on my side!

Early morning sunrise
Only on arriving at Java did the game start to come out; a nice herd of 22 wildebeest on the airstrip, as well as the ever-present impala herds down there.

Wildebeest herd
A little past the airstrip, we found what Andrea had been looking for for three days...yes, giraffe!  The world’s tallest animal had done a fine job eluding us of late, but here we had a nice herd, as well as a lone zebra amongst them.

Zebra and giraffes
A bit further along the road, we also got two buffalo bulls, and I started heading west when I heard that Shadrack was following up on rhino tracks.  This sounded promising, but Marka messed things up when he told me he had seen some lion tracks coming in from the south, a kilometre or so from Hide Dam.  I decided I needed to at least try, and left the west to go try for the is typical, I had no sooner committed myself when Shaddy let me know that he had found a herd of four rhino bulls, but I thought I would still go check for the lions.
Buffalo bull after a mud bath
Not too far from Hide Dam, Petros picked up some tracks, and immediately jumped off to start following them; I told him I would make a plan to pick him up later, but I had to go for the rhinos, so off I went.
I got there to find three of the rhinos, not sure where the fourth one went, but we had a fair sighting of them – they all seemed quite relaxed, but they were feeding in amongst a mopane thicket, and didn’t venture out into the open while we sat with them, but we still got a good view.

Crash of male rhinos
Again, as if to taunt me, Murphy’s Law kicked in, and I had no sooner arrived at the rhinos when Petros radioed to tell me that he had found the lions!  So off I shot back to the opposite side of the reserve, picked him up and made our way into the bush to see three of the Mafikizolo Pride members!
It was not the best sighting by any stretch of the imagination, and as the morning was already hot, and they were full bellied (Petros had heard them feeding while he was tracking), they had moved into an almost impenetrable thicket of Terminalia trees, but we got to see them and that was what counted.
Mafikizolo male before going to rest in the bushes
Time was ticking away, so we headed back to the lodge, not seeing much besides impala and a lone waterbuck, but after some great tracking from our guides and trackers, we got to show the guests just what they wanted, and they left very, very pleased with what they had seen under these conditions!
I was not on drive in the afternoon, and left Andrea and Shaddy to it, and from the sounds of things, they had another up and down drive. 
The down-side was that Andrea went straight south to look for the Mafikizolo Pride, but in typical fashion, there was just no sign of them!!!  Not seeing a great deal down there, the radio call telling them that the Jacaranda Pride were found near Klipdrift Crossing back in the north drew both Shaddy and Andrea there.
Andrea arrived, and I don’t think she realised what a great sighting she would end up having when she saw the lions just ambling down the road, straight towards some impalas and wildebeest that they had just driven past.

Jacaranda youngsters
When the lions saw the impalas, they broke into their hunting formation, and the lionesses circled around, leaving the sub-adults close to Andrea.  After a short while, when the one lioness went running into the impala herd, chaos ensued, and with impalas running everywhere, it was a matter of time before one ran into the sub-adults and they managed to catch and kill a baby impala next to Andrea!!!  So she got here kill!

Cleaning after the kill
As always, the sights and sounds surrounding feeding lions is something special, and Shaddy arrived to enjoy this too.  The other lioness didn’t return, and the guides suspect that she managed to catch her own impala and was feeding on that one alone while the others fought over their catch!
Always got to love how a quiet drive can turn around into something special, and its that aspect that will keep us going, even in these quiet times after the floods!
Im off blogging duties for a few days, so will leave you in the more than capable hands of Grant – cant wait to hear what his Irish Luck is going to bring him over the next few days!

1 comment:

  1. Great photos as usual Chad, thanks for the blog, Rosie.