Tuesday, 24 April 2012

23rd April: Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get Any Better!!

Pic Of The Day!
Morning Drive.

( Grant.)

Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Timbavati/ Umbabat Cutline.
Leopard ( Ntombi & Cub) / Vielmieter – Steep Tsharalumi.
Rhino ( Female & Calf)

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant.)

Elephant ( Kambaku) / Buchner – Buchner Dam.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Buchner – Kruger Cutline.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Buchner – Group 13 Access.

Daily Synopsis.

Waking this morning and setting off on drive it had the feeling that it was going to be one of those quiet days. I'm not sure if it was the overcast skies, the windy weather or the fact that I was pre-empting a quiet one due to the fact that all the drives of late have been incredible and we were due a slow one sometime or another.

With our mission being Rhino and Giraffe we set off directly to check our Western Boundary. It was not long before we bumped into a nice Bull Elephant who was lit up nicely by dawns pastel light. Not spending to much time with him we continued on our way West.

Reaching the boundary after a number of herds of Impala and Zebra we turned South checking along the boundary to see if we could pick up on any fresh tracks coming in. As we drifted further South with no signs my feelings of a quiet morning were starting to be reinforced. Well that was until Makipi's and his brother, Shindzuti, were found in an area not far from where we had just come. Very tempted to turn around we decided against it as we had seen very nice Leopard and the morning was still young. We had plenty of time to find what we were looking for.

Continuing away from the sighting we changed tactic and received permission from Kings to follow up on the Female Rhino and her Calf who were last seen on their property yesterday evening. Rerouteingg we decided to head through Steep Tsharalumi as Ntombi and her cub were last seen their the morning before. Maybe we would get lucky and find her in amongst the rocks with her little one. Driving through the area we found nothing and no signs of her so we continued to the South to follow up on the Rhino. Not getting very far we received a message that Ntombi had been located on foot and that she was heading literally straight for us. Readjusting our position slightly we waited on a drainage line that she was travelling along and sure enough within a minute or two she popped up and crossed the road in front of us. She appeared on a mission and was calling out constantly as she continued along the drainage line towards Steep Tsharalumi, where we had just come from. We continued to follow her and would switch off occasionally so that we could hear her very impressive call. She was clearly calling out to her cub and if we stuck with her long enough she may lead us to it.

As she did the day before she walked down into the riverbed in an area we cannot access by vehicle and had to watch from the steep banks. As she reached to riverbed floor and called out her youngster came bounding out from underneath some trees that had been washed over in the floods. It was no wonder we did not see it when we travelled through earlier. Reunited they went about greeting one another excitedly before heading to the Western bank. We rushed off to the opposite side to get a better view but no sooner had we got there she changed direction and started to head back to the East. Once again crossing banks we found her sitting in the middle of the riverbed. It was as if she was playing a game with us because no sooner had we settled in she moved back to the Western Bank and settled in to feed the cub. Once again crossing over we were just in time to see her get up and start to move back again to the East. This time we sat and watched until she was on the opposite bank and then we followed. With the cub being a little cautious of the vehicles we kept our distance as Ntombi made her way on nearly the exact path she had used to get here. It was about then that we received the news that a kill had been found a lot further to the South and it was suspected that it was hers. With the direction and determination that she was travelling in it all made perfect sense now. She must have come back to collect her cub and lead it to her kill. We continued to follow at a distance and would get brief views of the cub as it kept to the covers. With us having had an amazing sighting and others arriving on scene we took our leave. Examining my photo's afterwards it looks like Ntombi's cub is a male. 

If that was not enough for the morning we received news that the Rhino and her calf had been found in pretty much the area we were heading to. With not many stations responding we popped in for a visit. On arrival the two of them were feeding but it was not long before the calf decided it was nap time and lay down. Mom continued to feed around her and at one point even fed on grass alongside the calf that had been pushed over from her laying down. It was another great sighting as we sat on the Southern end of a grassed plain with the two of them. With time running out we eventually left them as we started our long journey back North.

Along the way we picked up fresh tracks for what must be the Mafikizolo Pride West of Hide Dam but not having the time we could not follow up. So much for my feelings! A trip up North may be in order for this afternoons drive. I wonder what awaits us?

With Lion, Leopard, Elephant and Rhino all a possibility in the South on afternoon drive we chose to head in the opposite direction and head off to the far North East. Having had a spectacular morning drive it was now time to enjoy the peace and solitude of the African Bush and there are few better places than one of my favourite properties tucked away on the Kruger boundary. We were still looking for Giraffe but had added a herd of Buffalo to our Christmas list as well as Hyena. Where we were heading is not exactly Giraffe country but it is always good for Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino and Lion on its day. If it does not happen to be that day then it's the spectacular vista's that saves a drive. On this occasion we were to be lucky and we found ourselves a breeding herd of Buffalo early on in the drive. Unfortunately with it still being rather breezy they were not that settled and kept moving off whenever we manoeuvred around to get a better view. 

Leaving them we continued our quest North and it was not long before we picked up very fresh Lion tracks, both Tiyani and I recond they were from late morning. Not being far from the Kruger boundary we decided to follow up on foot until they crossed. This process was temporary delayed when we stumbled as big a Elephant Bull as we had had the afternoon before. The only difference this time was that we were on foot, ok, also not quite as close, but without the shelter of the car it felt like he was even closer. He was as chilled though and went about his feeding paying us very little attention, so we went about our business and followed the tracks North into Kruger. This is now the second time this has happened with Lion tracks in as many visits. Making our way back to the vehicle we continued on towards our sundowner koppie but were temporally delayed by three Hippo that we found in a small pan, who knows where they came from and also a breeding herd of Elephant that were not far beyond the same pan. You can see the animals in this area don't often have contact with humans as they are very wary and keep moving off if you try get to close. I love the fact they still have that wild side. Once again missing sundown but this time at least it was still light we enjoyed our drinks overlooking the bush

Our trip home was to be very uneventful and the couple of laps that we drove around Motswari in search of Hyena, that might I add we hear calling nearly every night, proved just as unsuccessful. All in all though it was a well balanced day and we can only hope that tomorrow is just as good.

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