Monday, 23 April 2012

22nd April: The Bush Springs To Life.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack & Herold.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Wisani.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Java/ Mbali Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – JayDee Access.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Java – Java Dam Access.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Vielmieter – Sweetwater Southern Access.
Lion ( Mafikizolo Pride: 2 x Males & 2 x Females) / Kings – Double Highway.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant.)

Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Scholtz – North/ South Sumatra Cutline.
Lion ( Machaton Pride: 2 x Females & 7 x Sub Adults) / Tanda Tula – Machaton Dam.

Daily Synopsis.

Waking to a rather cool, clear morning we all set off on our own individual missions. With it being Shadracks guests last drive and not having seen Lion yet he was desperate and headed off to the East to check if anything had come into our traversing area during the night. Herold had it far easier as his guests were more than happy to look at birds the entire drive, so he chose to stick to the dams and riverbeds. I headed up North of camp in search of Kuhanya, who I'm yet to see since arriving back from leave almost three weeks ago. Having plotted out a nice loop in the North we were once again lucky and came across a herd of Elephant which must have been the same individuals that had spent the night in and around the lodge. We spent a fair amount of time with them as they negotiated some very tricky rocky terrain to get at what must have been some very tasty foliage. 

With them moving off towards the riverbed we took our leave and headed to Argyle Dam to look at Eye's, Ears & Nostrils, otherwise know as Hippo. We found them all huddled together obviously also feeling the mornings chill as well.

Hearing that Herold had headed out to the far West I decided to check the central area's for general game, hopefully find Giraffe and Zebra. Shaddy had found his Lion tracks but instead of them coming into our traversing they had unluckily departed. With us all making our way slowly South we were well positioned when it suddenly came alive. First a sighting of Ntombi and her cub were seen at Steep Tsharalumi, this was soon followed by a report that the Mafikizolo Pride had also been found.

Herold chose to head to Ntombi while Shadrack naturally headed straight for the Lions. I hung back as we had, had a great Leopard sighting the evening before and my guests still have plenty of time so there was no rush for the Lions. We continued on our quest for general game and found a nice herd of Kudu as well as a herd of young male Waterbuck. The Zebra and Giraffe remained elusive, as they would the entire drive. 

With the sighting of Ntombi and her cub being lost in amongst the rocks of the Tsharalumi riverbed, a favourite spot of hers, specially when it comes to stashing her cub. Herolds focus shifted to trying to find a group of Buffalo that was seen by Shaddy the evening before. Although he did not find the herd he did find a group of three nice Dagha Boys that we also visited.

Hearing that the Lion sighting had not only cleared up but they were also now in a better position and more visible I decided to head in their direction. This decision was thrown a curve ball when we were invited to our relaxed female Rhino and her calf who had also now been located a little ways to the South out on an open plain. I did hover in the decision but eventually chose to head for the Lions as with this pride you never can tell when and where you will find them next. Making our way into the sighting we found them resting in amongst a thicket, the two males paying us no attention but the two females were very weary of us and never took an eye off us until we had settled in and spent ten minutes sitting very still. They both then dropped their heads for an afternoon siesta. It was not until we decided to leave that they all popped their heads up in attention watching us carefully as we moved out the area.

On our trip back to the lodge a drag mark was found but could not be followed up on due to the lack of time available. Wilddog tracks were also found that could not be followed up on. Both something to look forward to on afternoon drive and to be followed up on.

Starting out on what felt more like a mid summers afternoon drive we decided to avoid the hustle and bustle and headed off East. This was also to try fulfil two other objectives, firstly find Zebra and secondly hopefully get lucky with Rhino as we headed further South.

Getting into the open plains around Kudu Pan Clearing we were disappointed not to find our resident Zebra herd especially as there was a lone Wildebeest, which normally associates with them.

We continued our journey towards Majavi Dam another popular spot of theirs and shortly before reaching the actual dam we found our Zebra, unfortunately this time they were off at a distance and heading into a Mopane thicket, not your normal type of habitat, word must have got out that we were looking for them. Leaving them I promised our guests that we would find a better sighting and that we would not count that one. Reaching the Kruger Boundary we turned South in search of Rhino. Along the way we found ourselves a beautiful Bull herd of Elephant with one very impressive male that it would have been a sin not to spend some time with him. Pulling into position he was very relaxed and ignored us completely, obviously very confident in his size as we drove within ten metres of him and he did not flinch a muscle. Switching off we sat with him towering over us as he ate the bushes around the vehicle. We happened to park on a particular species he was fond of and was not shy in approaching the car to within touching distance to get at it. 

At this point we only had a view of his enormous leg and had to crane our heads to get a view of his face. A totally humbling experience for everyone on board as you looked into his eye and through the window of his soul finding only peace and contentment. We were all drawn in and sat transfixed until he slowly broke contact and moved off in search of another of his favourite species. My afternoon was made and it did not matter what we saw from this point on, actually, giving it some thought now my week is made! 

Checking all the pans whilst continuing South we found tracks for our Rhino and also fresh dung on a midden with fresh urine on another but with the sun reaching the Western horizon our time was short and we could not track on foot. We checked all the possible areas we could with the vehicle but came up with nothing. Having ignored the radio for most of the afternoon we found ourselves on our Southern boundary with an invitation to visit the Machaton Pride at Machaton Dam. Not being far and with it being in an extremely beautiful setting we headed in their direction. It would be typical that we would now find Zebra, delaying our arrival at the Lions and thus loosing all light for photography.

None the less it took away nothing from sitting in the twilight on an open plain next to a dam with nine Lions. I've had worse Sunday evenings. One of the large females was missing but tracks for a male were found shortly before sunset and it is believed that they are together mating somewhere not far off. 

With it now being completely dark we set off back to the lodge keeping with our current theme of drinks being more a nightcap than a sundowner. Resuming after drinks Tiyani found us a very relaxed African Wildcat, a Side Striped Jackal and a Spotted Eagle Owl, not to mention a number of Chameleons. I guess I may have missed a fair bit whilst flying solo the last couple days!

So the order of tomorrow is to find Rhino as well as Giraffe, lets see what the day has to offer.

1 comment:

  1. Shew Grant, what a fantastic afternoon - loved the baby ellies and entwined trunks - would have been so satisfied with that sighting alone - then you topped it with the beautiful bull - how awesome and two lion sightings! Magical afternoon, I am sure your guests were very chuffed and on top of the world. Thanks for sharing, it brought back happy, happy memories. Hope you find Frankie soon!