|Pic Of The Day.|
( Grant & Marka.)
Lion (Jacaranda Female & Cub+White Timbavati Female)/Motswari – Wisani Crossing.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Peru – Phiva Plains.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Java Access.
Elephant ( Female & Calf) / Motswari – Airstrip.
Rhino ( Female & Calf)
Leopard ( Makipi's Male) / Mbali - Garage Rd.
Leopard ( Machaton Male) / Argyle – Great North.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Peru Entrance.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Voeldam.
Rhino ( Unknown Male)
Rhino ( 2 x Males)
Lion ( 1 x Female Jacaranda Sub Adult) / Argyle - Klipdrift Crossing.
Waking to an overcast and very windy morning did not bode well for the busy drive that we had planned. Setting off Jacky and I decided we would head North to Vyeboom Dam and then down the Western side South to follow up on our female Rhino and her calf who had been seen late yesterday evening. Crossing our airstrip one of my guests shouted out Rhino at which Jacky began laughing and quickly corrected her that it was in fact a Hippo. We forgave her as at this time in the morning the sun still had not risen and the fact that it is unusual to see them out of water. We argued that if she thought it was a Rhino we could cross that one off the Christmas List and our morning would be that much easier but I guess after correcting her she was having none of that, DOH!
Our next surprise came literally around the corner when we found the tiniest Elephant I've seen in some time. It was standing there with it's mother who paid absolutely no attention to us and continued her feeding on a Raison Bush. We sat there waiting for the rest of the herd to emerge from the Mopane thicket but none appeared and after a while we realised that they were alone. This did not seem to phase them in the slightest and they ambled around feeding on a variety of trees and grass in the area. As Elephants tend to travel great distances when it's windy we think they became separated from the herd as the little one could not keep up. Although we could not see the rest of the herd, knowing they can communicate over great distances we believe they must be in the area as the mother was way to relaxed.
While sitting with her and enjoying the privilege and trust of allowing us to approach so closely to a baby that must be a couple days old we received a message from Marka that he had Lion tracks behind one of our Chalets heading to the North. I said we would come give him a hand following up as soon as we had finished with the Elephant. With time not being on our side we eventually pulled ourselves away from the youngster and headed in Marka's direction. No sooner had we crossed back over the airstrip and behind camp Marka once again radioed me to ask where I was. Not waiting for an answer he told me to move it and come join him with the White Lion he had found within a stones throw from camp. Good old Marka and his magic! Not sparing the horses we arrived within minutes to find one Jacaranda Lioness, her female cub and a White Timbavati female. They all looked on the skinny side but otherwise well and had clearly travelled a fair distance during the night as they were all lying down fast asleep, this even before the sun had risen. Who knows where they had come from and where they have been, I guess the important thing was that for now they were with us. While sitting and chatting about them Jacky and I came to the realisation that this pride and all its family members is in a huge mess and we in fact don't really know what is going on with it. This new division really complicates things as it looks like two of the Jacaranda sub adults are out there alone now and their aunt which we saw three days ago is alone, leaving this pride split in three, add the White Lion rejoining a faction of the split and you have yourself a major headache. We not even going to get into where and what the White Lions mother, aunt, sister and cousin are up to, all having split from one another a while ago. So instead of pondering the what's, who and how we decided to just enjoy our time spent with an old friend.
Dragging ourselves away we had to make drastic alterations to our mornings plans as we now had very limited time. Taking the most direct route South we headed straight to where the rhino's had been seen the night before. Arriving in the area we found their tracks and both Jacky and I headed out on foot to try figure out exactly where they headed as they had obviously spent a great deal of time here with tracks going in every direction. Knowing the vehicles tyre pattern who had seen them the evening before helped us ascertain which tracks were the freshest and gave us a direction to follow. Heading to the West we jumped back on the vehicle to try speed up the process. Checking the roads in the area we came up with nothing until we approached the Tsharalumi River where Jacky found their tracks once again. Following them a short while it was not long before we spotted the distinctive ridge of a Rhino's back a little off to our left. Not wanting to scare them off we kept our distance, not that we had much option as they were in a very thickly vegetated, rocky drainage line.
Letting them get accustomed to the vehicle and our presence they became mobile into more suitable terrain for us to follow. Still not wanting to spook them we kept our distance and got ahead of them so as that they could determine the spacial distance they felt comfortable with. Over the next hour they became very comfortable with the car and mom completely ignored us eventually. The little calf was not as trusting but with time curiosity got the better of him and he would approach the vehicle to within five metres before hopping up, spinning around and running off to mom and then return to do it all again. I'm not a mushy kind of guy but when it is standing so close to the car that you can hear it chewing with it's little mouth open making tchop, tchop noises, you cannot help using the words cutest and most adorable thing you have ever seen! It not only rates as my best Rhino sightings ever but as one of my best sightings of all time. It's amazing to see how far we have come in a month from originally finding it, the trust blows me away.
Holding onto the sighting for Marka, payment for his magic, ran us into overtime and stopping for a very quick cup of coffee we then had to make tracks back to camp. So...... at the close of drive we came up one short but between the White Lion, the baby Elephant and the cutest, most adorable baby Rhino I don't think my guests even noticed!
So what does a guide do on his afternoon off, he goes on a bumble of coarse needing his fix of the African Wild. I'm not going to go into any length about our afternoon but to say that it was typical Murphy's Law. With no guests and only two vehicles operating in the North, hence us being out in the first place to give the guys a hand, or should that be extra eyes, we found the “ Big Five” within a two kilometre radius and all practically on the same road. First Pete found himself Machaton Male Leopard with a young Impala Kill, Marka countered this with Makipi's Male. We got into the mix finding a Rhino while on our way to Machaton Male. Pete then raised the stakes with a Breeding Herd of Buffalo. Not wanting to be left out Dave, who also was out on a bumble came in from left field with a Breeding Herd of Elephant drinking and generally mucking around at Voeldam. After visiting both the Leopard and the Elephant we found ourselves another two Rhino a little further South. Not to be outdone Marka, who had been on drinks during all of this came back with the trump of all trumps, Lion. All in all not a bad bumble, pity I had no guests to share these wonders with, it did however serve to restore my faith.
I'll be off drive for the next couple of days but will keep you up to date with all the goings on until Andrea takes over when she comes onto drive in a day or two.