Saturday, 28 April 2012

27th April: Starting Right Were We Left Off.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Herold.)

Leopard ( Ntombi Female) / Vielmieter – Western Tsharalumi.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Hlaramisa Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Tamboti Pan.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Hippo Rocky Rd.
Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack and Marka.)

Leopard ( Machaton Male?) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam.
Leopard ( Rockfig Jnr & Cub) / Vielmieter – Bushwillow Way.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Giraffe Kill Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Madala Crossing.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Motswari – Barnes Post.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Motswari – Wisani Crossing.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Tchwala Rd.
Lion ( Mafikizolo Pride: 2 x Males & 2 x Females) / Vielmieter – Western Tsharalumi.

Daily Synopsis.

Joining for afternoon drive I was keen to get out there and see what we could find, it was going to be an added challenge as I'm flying solo at the moment with Jacky being on his annual leave. With some of my guests still not having arrived I knew we would be in for a special afternoon, it's like when someone decides to skip a drive or a camera battery goes flat, the animals all sense it and come out of hiding. I decide to stick around the vicinity of the camp a little while just in case they should show up. So I guess we should thank them for our very first sighting which occurred at Xinatsi Dam less than two kilometres from camp. As we pulled up at the dam our attention was drawn by a Hamerkop that was sitting in the shallows, turning onto the dam wall and coasting into a position we could see him we noticed that he was alarm calling and almost simultaneously we spotted the distinctive shape of a large male Leopard also by the waters edge. He was stuck in two minds whether to continue to drink or flee to the closest bushes, being a nervous individual he slowly skulked to a Mopane thicket a short distance away. We slowly followed him not wanting to unsettle him or scare him off. He was not that nervous as he stopped in the cover of the bushes and sat down. We positioned ourselves that we could partially see him and also sat there. After a short while he seemed to get agitated with our presence and charged out the bushes at us. I t was more of a warning as he pulled up short of the vehicle and it lacked the deep growling and any commitment. No sooner had he decided to charge he turned around and slowly walked back to the dam wall. Keeping our distance we followed him as he made his way over the dam wall into the thick grass beyond. We lost him as he moved off into a thicket as we did not want to approach to close but I'm pretty sure he simply sat down in amongst the branches and long grass. Looking at the size of his belly and the way he was behaving I'm sure he has a kill in the area hence him not moving off immediately and also his semi aggressive behaviour.

Taking our leave we headed towards Sohobele Dam were we picked up on some very nice general game that would include, Impala, Zebra, Kudu, Hippo and my highlight of the day, a Sharpes Grysbok. It is nocturnal antelope that is not often seen. With the daylight hours being limited we decided to continue our journey to the West and the Tsharalumi River where we would follow the coarse of the river South, always a productive drive on a warm afternoon. 

Today was to be no different as I received news that a large breeding herd of Buffalo that numbered about five hundred individuals was found and also a nice breeding herd of Elephant not that much further South of that. Our afternoon was taking shape and by the sounds of things we had plenty of things to keep us busy. Visiting the Buffalo first we found them exiting the riverbed and slowly feeding to the West. We can now confirm that the herd was actually that big and their appeared to be Buffalo all over the place of every shape and size. It was a great sighting as they were extremely relaxed and they barely acknowledged us as we made our way through the centre of the herd South.

Having had our fill of Buffalo we headed off to the Elephant which we found a short distance away. They were as relaxed as the Buffalo and went about their feeding hardly taking any notice of us. It too was a very big herd with many youngsters in it who all seemed in a very playful mood. As per usual I got caught up in the sighting and spent nearly the rest of our daylight with them. Eventually pulling ourselves away we continued South wanting to try follow up on the Mafikizolo Pride with their now depleted Buffalo carcass.

From not having any Buffalo in our traversing area the last month they now all seemed to be here as we bumped into another herd on rejoining the Tsharalumi River. This time we spent no time with them and bypassed them on our way to follow up on the Lions. Arriving in the area they had been the last couple of days I plugged in the spot light as we had lost the natural light of the sun. Making our way into the sighting was an adventure in itself and I need another whole blog to go into what a Land rover is capable of, needless to say we arrived in the very rocky, thickly vegetated drainage line they had dragged their Buffalo carcass into. Immediately we saw the older female feeding on what scraps she could salvage from the spine and hide. The others were on the opposite side of the drainage line, the older male feeding on something while the other two rested off their indigestion. Noticing that we would have a better view from another position we committed a lot of time and effort into getting into position. We now needed our spotlight flicking the switch and looking towards the Lions they stood their still as silhouettes. Checking the globe everything seemed in order and it was on checking the fuse that we discovered the problem. Not having a spare with me we had to pull out the sighting while we had a fragment of light to find our long way out. Once again breaking the bounds to a Land Rovers capabilities we found our way out and made our way for drinks. Heading for our sundowners a sighting of Rockfig Jnr was called in very nearby where we were. I chose to ignore it as we would not be able to follow without the light and headed for drinks. It was while on drinks that my guests that arrived late joined us. I thought to myself, boy did they miss a special afternoon and now they would have a drink with us and then get to drive all the way back to camp where they had just come from, in the dark, fun, fun, fun! Shortly before packing up drinks a vehicle came in our direction. At first I thought they were on their way back to their lodge but when they pulled up next to us they informed me that Rockfig Jnr was walking down the road towards us. Getting everyone on the vehicle we sat and waited for our added bonus. It was not long before she appeared and walked straight down the road towards us and then stopped in front of the vehicle, offering us a great view. She then became mobile again into the bushes where we had just had drinks, we followed behind while the other vehicle light her for us. Passing through a thicket she reappeared on the other side with a Red Crested Korhaan in her mouth. Killing it she lay down to pluck it but before getting the first mouthful of feathers her kill was stolen by her cub who came bounding out a nearby rocky outcrop. It then proceeded to take cover in a thick Weeping Wattle offering no visual. Mom seemed quite content and sat in her position now grooming herself. We took our leave at this point having had an unbelievable afternoon. It only struck me while travelling back that we had had our drinks fifty metres from the spot that the cub must have been hiding in the whole time. I wonder if it had ventured forth and investigated the disturbance around it's resting spot or it kept hidden waiting for silence to descend or it's mother to return.

Lets see what lies behind tomorrows bushes for us.

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