Friday, 13 April 2012

12th April: Apparently It Does: The Perfect Day.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Andrea, Robin, Marka & Godfrey.)

Elephant ( Kambaku) / Sibon – Argyle Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Nyosi River Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Ntsiri – Argyle Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Kings – Hyena Rd.
Rhino ( 1 x Male, 3 x Female & Calf)
Rhino ( Female & Calf)
Leopard ( Male) / Peru – Lily Pan Rd.
Lion ( Machaton Pride, 3 x Females & 7 x Cubs) / Tanda Tula – Sunset Rd.
Cheetah ( Female & 2 x Sub Adults) / Vilmieter – Hide Dam Link.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Andrea, Robin, Marka & Godfrey.)

Elephant ( Kambaku) / DeLuca – Nyati Dam.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / DeLuca – Mpela – Mpela Pan.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Vielmieter – Entrance Dam Rd.
Rhino ( Female & Calf)
Lion ( Machaton Pride, 3 x Females & 7 x Cubs) / Kings Camp – Leisha's Link.

Daily Synopsis.

Fully expecting a drive hangover after all the great sightings of the evening before we set out apprehensively. There is no guesses to where Goodman and I set off, yip, we headed North. Instead of turning to the East this time we chose to go West along Argyle road see if we could get lucky on our Northern and Western boundaries. Our priority was Lion but this was closely followed by Rhino. A lot of guides seem reluctant to drive the tar road but of late it has proved very fruitful for us. This morning was no different and although we did not find our objectives we did find Elephant, Buffalo and had a nice sighting of a Honey Badger.

Marka and Robin stuck around Motswari tracking tracks for a male and female Leopard that they found shortly after leaving camp. Andrea turned South keen to follow up on the Cheetah from the evening before but became distracted when she found Rhino tracks. She began following these and was soon joined by Robin, who with Marka had lost the Leopard tracks and chose to check else where.

We in turn decided to cut into our traversing and continue South along the Western boundary in search of Rhino. Along the way we picked up tracks for a large male Leopard but decided to ignore them as in male in this area was sure to be skittish. As if reading our minds we came around the corner to find him crossing the road. I'd say he was not totally relaxed but given his space we could follow him and had a great sighting of him. Losing him at one point we rounded a thick patch of vegetation at which he came charging out the bush at us, guess he's not that shy. Once again opening up a gap between us he relaxed and set off hunting a female Kudu. Unfortunately for him he was soon spotted and his position was given away by the extremely loud barks of the Kudu. With his cover blown and everything in the area now knowing about him he once again set off. We took this as a good time to leave him and continue on our quest.

We did not pick up on many big things before our coffee break but our time was occupied by the smaller things like Jackal, Steenbok, Duiker and Dwarf Mongooses.

Returning from coffee it was if a zoo had escaped with two different sightings of breeding herds of Elephant, two different Rhino sightings, a Buffalo sighting and most importantly, the Machaton Lions had been found. With an invitation from the Southern stations to respond we were only interested in the Lions and headed in their direction. Along the way though we bumped a herd of Elephant, which we did spend some time with, can never see enough of them.

Eventually leaving them we continued South but fate would have it that we would again be delayed. This time it was the female Rhino and her calf which we were not responding to but bumped into as she crossed through the Machaton River on to our side. With the guys unable to follow her through the riverbed we volunteered to stick with them till they could make their way around and rejoin the sighting. I know it's a tough job but someone has to do it.

Once a station was in place we set off again trying to get down to the Lions but this was yet again impeded by a herd of Buffalo that was slowly making its way North. I guess we had the Buffalo to thank for the Lions appearance as the were a little to the South of them. We took our standby with the Buffalo while waiting for the Lions. It appeared like a very big herd as it stretched far to the South and was on either side of the road spreading across the plains. They seemed very unperturbed that there were Lions very nearby and actually began settling down to ruminate out in the open.

Being called into the sighting we joined the Lions a little down the road as they just became mobile to the East. Following them for a short while they turned to the North and in the direction of the Buffalo. It appeared that they have not eaten anything substantial since I saw them four to five days ago following what looks like the same herd of Buffalo. Looping around we were able to get in front of the Lions and had great views of them as they crossed the wide open spaces of the Southern plains. We continued to follow them until they arrived at the Buffalo where they spread out on a front clearly intending to hunt. They unfortunately were upwind and the Buffalo soon became aware of their presence and began approaching the Lions in numbers. With other stations still responding and us being beyond late we chose to leave the sighting as we pretty much knew the outcome. This was later confirmed when while stalking the Buffalo the Lions killed a Steenbok and gave away their position, when all of them began fighting over the tiny carcass. The Buffalo seized their opportunity and chased the Lions off into the nearby Machaton Riverbed where took shelter out of sight.

While we drove the long road back North we heard that the rest of the guys located on the Rhino they were tracking and they all got to view them on foot. A very special experience. Not to be left out Marka found the three Cheetah from the day before and had his own very special sighting. Who said it was quiet out there. I wonder if we are in for an afternoon hangover? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Having had the most amasing two drives we were under no pressure to produce anything and we could take the opportunity to head to the far North East corner and escape the madness. I was excited to head to one of my favourite properties in the reserve as you never know what you will find and should you not find anything it's ok as it's a very beautiful area and the scenery alone is worth the drive.

While we headed up North all the others headed South some wanting to follow up on the Cheetah, while others were after the Lions and Rhino. By the sounds of things there afternoon was one of mixed fortune with them seeing the Rhino and Calf plus the Machaton Lions. Who indecently managed to kill a young Buffalo but I'm sure it was all gone by the time they got to view them. Unfortunately the Cheetah had moved on and was not to be found.

Our drive was to be one of scenery on this occasion, we did find tracks for a large male Lion joining with two females and their cubs. The tracks must have been from last night as they were over the top of Herolds tyre tracks who had been there in the morning. We also had lots of tracks for Buffalo clearly the reason the Lions were in the area. We had fun trying to follow up but with the tracks heading straight North towards the Kruger boundary and the fact that we were running out of time, as we wanted to get to the infamous sundowner spot before the sun actually set, we chose to leave the tracking and head for our drinks and the reason we were here. Arriving at the Koppies shortly before the sunset we sat on the rocks and watched as the suns glow washed over the surrounding bush painting it hues of pink and red. Enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the spot we reflected on an amasing day and how fortunate we are to live and work in a spot like this.

Our drive home was filled with little nocturnal animals as we found a Spotted Eagle Owl, a Pearl Spotted Owl, a number of other nocturnal birds and to finish it off a Large Spotted Genet. You couldn't come closer to the perfect day, with the wild, exciting morning and the peaceful serenity of the afternoon. 


  1. Absolutely incredible sightings - especially the Honey Badger!! Your journey to the North brought back many treasured memories - thanks!

  2. The last pic of the lions is really excellent !!!!
    Great shot !