Sunday, 18 March 2012

17th March: Who's Tracking Who?

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold, Andrea, Johaness & Pete.)

Leopard ( Makipi's & Shindzuti Brothers) / Peru – Hippo Rocky Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Argyle -
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Peru Entrance.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant & Andrea.)

Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter - 2nd Tsharalumi Crossing.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Karans – Barnes Post.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Giraffe Kill Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

Once again going to sleep with Lions calling very close to the lodge we had a lot to look forward to on morning drive as I could now recognise the call of the White Lion. They had been calling North of camp so the majority of us headed in that direction on a network of roads so that we could cover the entire area. It was not long before Andrea called in tracks heading South a little to the East of Motswari camp. Jacky and I turned around and headed in her direction, the four of us then began to track on foot as the tracks had been subsequent to the dew, so we were looking at very fresh tracks. Unfortunately the area we were walking in was very thick Mopane interspersed with long Turpentine Grass, add the hardness of the ground and you did not have the ideal conditions for tracking. We had found were they had been hunting and chasing Kudu and re-conned that they were still quiet mobile as it was still early and being overcast, cool, so they would continue to try their luck. 

Hearing that Pete had found Makipi's and his brother, Shindzuti, we left Jacky and Tiyani to continue with what they did best while we tried to make it across the reserve to join Pete and his Leopards. They had not moved far from where we had them with the Hyena two days ago, which seems to be an emerging trait with these two. Also not being in the easiest terrain the sighting was on, off, on, off, as the guys struggled to keep hold of them. They managed to do a great job and after a number of relocations Andrea and I eventually made it into the sighting. This did not last long though and we lost them nearly immediately, never easy when you don't have your tracker keeping an eye out for you. Persevering though we also managed to relocate and after dragging us through some pretty thick areas once again, Makipi's eventually sat in an area that we could get a good view of him. After all the effort we had been through we sat and watched as he rested in the shade for quite some time but when he decided to move again we let him be on his way, even though he appeared to be walking through an open field.

Not having forgotten about Jacky and Tiyani but rather being to far for radio contact we travelled back to the East excited to hear what had become of the two of them and had they found what they were looking for. At first all we could receive was static messages that we could not make much out of but as we got closer we received the news that they were still on the tracks but still had had no luck. It appeared that the Lions had walked in a complete circle as the guys had found their tracks crossing their original tracks and on top of our tracks. They then proceeded to walk nearly the identical route they had just walked as the trackers followed new tracks on top of the old tracks and their very own tracks. The question had to be asked, who was tracking who? I guess if we had the time and had not needed to get back for breakfast, which we were already late for, this question would have been answered had we sat in the same spot, as surely they would have walked straight to us.

With the temperature steadily climbing we don't think they are far and we will check once again this afternoon once things have cooled off.

On afternoon drive we decided not to follow up on the Lions as they were in an extremely big block that was near impossible to track in. So instead we headed South to Java to follow up on a Leopard Dave had seen earlier in the day, from his description it could possibly been the Grand Dame, Mbali. We would return to follow up on the Lions after dark hoping they would move onto a road where we would bump them.

Arriving down at Java we searched the entire area that Dave had last seen this Leopard but running out of places to look we eventually had to move off in search of other things. Hearing that there was a breeding herd of Buffalo nearby that was slowly making there way North along the Tsharalumi Riverbed we chose to head in their direction. It was not long before we were sitting in front of a formidable herd as they slowly fed along the rivers bank.

Having our fill we decided to head back to the North so as to be positioned for our search for the Lions. This forward planning was to be thwauted though when a breeding herd of Elephant was called in not far away. Well we were nearly diagonally opposite the sighting but being stuck on the opposite side of the river we had two choices, either try cross at Makulu crossing or drive all the way round. Having learnt from our previous adventures I decided to walk into the crossing this time and with the sand being very soft under foot and me sinking nearly to my knees, we not going to mention how deep the water was, we thought it best we drive around unless any one was keen to spend the night under the stars, what......... No takers!

Eventually getting around we found the herd feeding alongside the bank. We were in for a nice surprise though as they emerged from the thicket they were eating their was a calf that must not have been older than a week or two as it would not leave it's mother side and continually walked under her belly seeking protection from its older siblings who seemed intent on pestering the new born. Loving Elephants Jacky and I decided to spend the rest of our afternoon with them as mom was extremely relaxed and we had the entire herd feeding around the vehicle. With the sun having set and it now getting rather dark we eventually had to leave and squeeze in a very quick sundowner before checking on our Lions.

Resuming after drinks we rushed off to the area we had been tracking in the area to check all the roads we could but to no luck. We did however bump into a herd of Buffalo in the region so lets hope the lions get wind of them and follow them. We were not wrong in thinking that the Lions were close as shortly before heading to bed we had them calling very close to camp in the area we had been searching. Maybe tomorrow we will have better timing.

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