Monday, 14 May 2012

13th May: Caracal Sunday.

Pic Of Day.

Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Chad.)

Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / DeLuca – Western Cutline.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Henk's se Brug.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Lion Pan Rd.
Caracal ( Male) / Borneo – Kruger Cutline.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant & Chad.)

Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Peru – Flooded Crossing.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Mbali – Buffalo Kill Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy)
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Makulu Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Argyle Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Argyle Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

With it being my guests last drive and having seen a fair amount of amazing things they were all looking for a big finish, hmm.......... no pressure! Goodman and I decided that with a number of stations covering the Central and Western sections we would head to the East. This suited us well as it guaranteed us no other vehicle traffic and we could escape into the apparent wilderness, something I've come to appreciate more after a recent trip to the Kruger. With the area not being driven much who knows what secrets lay in wait for us.

Both Herold and Chad got off to a good start with them both finding different Elephant Bulls shortly after leaving camp. They both then continued on their mission to try find Wilddog that had been reported to be heading South from Ntsiri, one of our Northern neighbours. They were also keeping an eye and ear out for Lions that we had calling to the North of camp shortly before commencing drive. Later in the morning these were heard calling again by Herold who could now confirm that they were North of our traversing area as he sat on the boundary.

The first part of our drive was to be very quiet, not to mention a tad cold and we did not see much at all. Heading further South we eventually started to pick up on tracks at least, although they were a day or so old, at least they indicated that there was life present in these parts. Had we been a day earlier and had sat at a particular pan that Goodman and I had got out to investigate Rhino tracks at, we would have seen the big five as not only did we have the tracks for the Rhino we were now following but we also found, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo and Lion tracks. It appeared that the Lion were following the Buffalo as they headed slowly South and given the territory we were in I'm sure it was the Sohobele Males. Luck was not to be on our side though as we followed the tracks South to our traversing boundary. Here we decided to cut back to the West and try our luck in and around Hide Dam. Before reaching our intended coffee stop I had to pull up for a pisstop and while there I heard this loud thudding noise off on a nearby ridge. Sounding like Buffalo fighting we ventured forth to investigate but instead of finding Buffalo we found a herd of Zebra with two stallions that were engaged in a full on fight, so much so they totally ignored our approach. Getting into the best position we could we switched off to watch with amazement the brutality that they unleashed on one another. I personally have never seen them fighting to this extent where they are kicking, biting, bashing and rolling around on the floor. This continued for about ten minutes while we were there and who knows how long before we arrived but one of them started to show signs of his battle, with the white parts of his mane now being replaced by the crimson red of his blood that was flowing freely from a number of cuts around his body. Receiving a telling kick to the throat I thought we were going to watch him drop before our eyes but a little dazed he backed off and made a hasty retreat. Unfortunately it was one of those occasions that I got so caught up in the sighting I didn't even think to pick up my camera, doh!

All a little shocked we decided to head for coffee. Resuming a little more calm we started to head to the West but I had a change of heart half way and turned around and headed back to the East wanting to give it a chance to redeem itself. This time we would head even further East all the way to the Kruger boundary and then make our way North back towards the lodge. Things did not look good as a pan that I held hope in came and went without delivering as much as an Impala and reaching the Kruger boundary time was running out. It is strange how things work though and how quickly the smallest thing can completely turn your drive around. On this occasion it was a tawny blob that moved quickly from the road into the bush, immediately I knew what it was and accellerated in it's direction hoping to catch a glimpse of it before it disappeared. Pulling up at the spot that it had been our luck changed and there crouching in the grass was the Caracal that I'd called when first seeing it skulk off into the bush. At first it sat behind the long grass trying to hide from us but realising that it did not have enough cover it stealthily moved off down the road into the longer grass and disappeared. Although brief it did allow us to get a great look at it as it crossed the open road. This was my first Caracal in two and a half years of driving in the Timbavati and I could not have asked for something more special. Strange thing though, is that exactly a week ago to the day, while on leave, I was in Kruger with my family and we also had a great sighting of a Caracal, it also happened to be my first for Kruger. Lets see how long it is till my next.

Wrapping up a wonderful three days for our current guests I wonder what is in-store for our new arrivals this afternoon?

With new guests arriving in the afternoon and both couples having come from other lodges and staying with us a fare few nights there was no pressure to find everything on our first drive. So we took things very slowly as one should on a Sunday afternoon and we lazily made our way around the North taking in all things big and small.

Chad was under a little more pressure, not that much more though, and he headed to the central section to try his luck in finding his guests a Leopard which he came close to fulfilling when he responded to a large male Leopard that Marka had found at Java dam, unfortunately the Machaton Male was not playing along and obviously was going through one of his shy phases and it was not long before he gave Marka the slip. Chad still continued into the area to try relocate but to no avail.

Our drifting around proved pretty successful as we checked off a number of species that would include, Duiker, Impala, Waterbuck, Kudu, Hippo, Buffalo and Giraffe. We also tried our hand at relocating a herd of Elephant that was seen earlier in the afternoon along the Tsharalumi River but by the time we made it into the area they were nowhere to be found. As fate would have it though we were lucky enough to run into the tail end of another herd shortly before drinks and got to spend some time with a young male who appeared to be having as a relaxed time as us. Getting to drinks a little after the sun had gone down the rest of our evening was to be a chilled affair with us slowly making our way back to camp, the most excitement coming in the form of a Chameleon, always a life saver on night drives.

Lets hope the cats come out to play tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. WOW... I have yet to see a caracal in the wild Grant. Great timing ;-).

    I am with you on the cat front, let's hope for a few leopards and lions tomorrow.