Sunday, 4 March 2012

03rd March: How To Lose An Elephant Herd.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant & Andrea.)

Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Motswari Northern Access.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant.)

Leopard ( Makipi's Male) / JayDee – JayDee River Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Peru – Giraffe Kill Rd.
Lion ( Jacaranda Female) / Peru – Mbali River Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

Hello all it's me Grant back in action. Thank you very much to Andrea for her great blogs over the past week, you write beautifully and you have a natural eye for photography which is apparent in your amasing photo's.

So back out there and it looks like Jacky and I have not quite shaken our run of bad timing yet as we spent the entire previous evening tracking Lions that were following a Buffalo herd but seemed to miss them at every turn. We then found a couple of Lions at Sohobele Dam on our way home but they were in such a bad position and combined with it being dark and the instability of the area we chose not to try get closer and leave it to follow up in the morning.

Heading out on a crisp clear morning we set off in the direction of Argyle Dam, firstly to see the many Hippo's that have made the dam home and secondly to follow up on our Lions from the previous evening. The dam was good to us as we found a beautiful pod of Hippo's that we could approach closely to and sit with, we also found the tracks of our Lions. Spending some time with the Hippo's we eventually set off to follow up on the Lion tracks which had been made early evening as the dew had settled into them, so it looked like a long slog ahead. Up to the challenge Jacky and I followed the tracks North. It was not long before we lost them though as they left the road and headed into a very rocky area. Wanting to save on time we headed further North and criss-crossed all the roads in the region but we came up empty handed. Having a feeling they headed to the West we shifted our search in that direction but once again found nothing.

With a large herd of Elephant being found on our Western boundary we decided to temporary postpone our search and head in their direction, needing something to resuscitate our morning. Arriving in the area that the herd was left feeding we found only traces of them having moved to the North West. As was with the Lions we started by checking the surrounding roads for any sign of them. Being joined by another station we thought it only a matter of time until we located them and when a third station popped up, it was to be a sure thing. Well one would think, but again nature showed it's beauty in it's unpredictability and had us running in circles until slowly one by one we drifted off for morning coffee.

Resuming after a warming cup of coffee we once again tried our luck in the area but found not even a track or anything that would indicate that they had been in the area. With our tails between our legs we slowly made our way back towards camp. As if to add insult to injury we located our Lion tracks a lot further to the West than we had been following up but as is Murphy's Law, we now did not have the time and breakfast beckoned. Having paid severe wildlife tax the last two drives lets hope this afternoon looks on us favourably.

With the mercury rising quite considerably during the afternoon accompanied by a high humidity we did not hold out much hope for the initial part of our afternoon, specially after the very quiet morning. As is our M.O. in these situations we head past Xinatsi Dam and then onto Argyle and Sohobele Dams before heading South along the Tsharalumi River, if things do happen to be quiet we at least have a beautiful drive. We were not to be disappointed and the beginning stages of drive were extremely quiet with us only seeing our first animal after an hour and this came in the form of an Impala herd that had a couple of Warthogs feeding in amongst them, double bonus. 

Sitting with them a while we then set off down the Tsharalumi River again our “ go to” road looked like it was going to fail us when magically a few Dagha Boys appeared with a lone Buffalo female. They were slowly feeding on the long grass beside the riverbed and could not have come at a better time as things were getting desperate. Once again we sat with them a fair amount of time, not because it was a great sighting but more because we were afraid if we left them we would not find anything else.

Our apprehension seemed to pay off as it grew later things cooled off and the animals seemed to show themselves more. Jacky and I decided to try a new route that we had not driven since the floods but thought at least if it was going to be quiet we may as well have a little adventure. While on our little adventure we first heard the alarm calls of Guinea Fowl followed by finding them all sitting up in a dead Knobthorn. On seeing this we knew that there was a predator in the area we only had to find it. This did not take Eagle-Eye Jacky long as he soon called out, “ Ingwe” and pointed at the base of a couple of shrubs in the thick grass. Low and behold there sat a Leopard looking straight at us as if to say what's up with you guys, are you blind! Fearing it was a skittish Leopard we all froze but when he stood and then proceeded to walk straight in our direction to the side of the vehicle we all let out a deep breath. Realising it was Makipi's we started the engine and began following him as he wandered along following a scent. We got to see him very nicely and both Jacky and myself were amazed at how relaxed he has become with the vehicle walking right beside it on a number of occasions. He eventually followed the scent down into the riverbed where he sat down on the sand and surveyed his surroundings. Unfortunately for us this was behind all the thick vegetation of the river bank and we could only see the occasional spot. Having had a great sighting we left him. 

Receiving a message that a Lioness had been seen not far from where we had seen our Buffalo we turned around and started making our way in her direction. Not far away we once again found the Guinea Fowl alarm calling from the top of a tree and also a beautiful Nyala Bull that was looking fixedly North and alarm barking, clearly Makipi's brother, ( Shindzuti – means Shadow), was following behind.

With the sun fast approaching the horizon the sky turned the most amazing shades of lilac and purple which reflected beautifully off the few scattered clouds that were present, unfortunately we were on a mission and did not stop to take it all in. Arriving with the Lioness sitting in the riverbed we found that the station that had found her, our very own ex-apprehentise Pete, had grounded himself on a couple of hidden away rocks, so much so that both his front wheels were off the ground. Grabbing the tow rope and after quite a lot of tugging we eventually got him dislodged from his precarious position and we could both now enjoy the sighting of the Lioness who had roused herself and was now drinking from a pool in the riverbed. She then proceeded to walk in our direction out of the river and head back to the North West. We think her pride ran into the Mafikizolo Pride and they have now split, with the two older females both being separated from one another and their three adolescent youngsters. 

With the one Lioness being injured and the other not looking in great condition, if they do not regroup soon I fear this branch of the family tree is in real danger as the cubs are also to young to be without their mothers. We wait and see though as nature's resilience never ceases to amaze me. Lets see what stories the African Bush has for us tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back Grant...
    Lovely sightings in the afternoon.