|Pic Of The day.|
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Timbavati/ Umbabat Cutline.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Bulala Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Lion Pan Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Elephant Crossing.
Lion ( 3 x Sohobeles & 1 x Maghlatini) / Motswari – Kevins Camp.
Leopard ( Makipi's Male) / Peru – Lion Pan Link.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Motswari Dam.
Lion ( 2 x Jacaranda Female Sub Adults) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Waking to clear skies and warm weather we thought we were in for a beautiful sunrise and the prefect light to visit our Lions at dawn and check on their development. Leaving camp early we decided to hold off our visit though and bumble around and wait for the sun to rise unfortunately as we drove a fog rolled in that got thicker and thicker as time passed, so we put off our visit until conditions improved. Having seen a very large herd of Elephant around camp yesterday evening we decided they would be great to see in conditions like this and we set about looking for them. There were tell tale signs of them all around and it was difficult to make out exactly where they headed so we drove large loops. It was not long, while on our first loop, that we ran into the tail end of a herd and just as we thought the conditions added to the mystery of Elephant as they silently drifted through the thick fog, one moment there, the next magically gone. We sat with them a while as the adults went about feeding but the youngsters confidence seemed bolstered by the weather conditions and they continually challenged us. Running at the vehicle, ears spread wide and heads down, they would approach closer than normal revving us.
With the light conditions not getting any better we decided to head out onto Phiva Plains and check around Argyle Dam waiting for the fog to burn off. On our way we found ourselves a nice Hippo out of water, clearly these conditions favouring him as he chose to stay out and feed while the going was good.
Moving on we found ourselves another herd of Elephant and being more obliging than the last it would have been rude not to spend at least some time with them. As with the last group the youngsters were very playful and full of energy running about testing their strength on anything and everything. Sitting in amongst the herd we realised that it must be quite sizeable as we could hear branches and trees being broken all around us.
With the fog lifting slightly we decided it was time to make our way to the Lions. Heading North we received a message that two Wild Dogs that had just killed an Impala had been found further South, so while everyone headed their way we headed in the opposite direction. The idea was to view the Lions and then head back to the Wild Dogs once the sighting had quietened down. Arriving at the scene both Jacky and myself were very surprised at how much of the carcass had been eaten with the whole hind section gone. An explanation was quickly on hand though as instead of three male Lions there now sat four, hmm..............hello stranger. Initially Jacky thought it was one of the Mafikizolo Males but I was not sure and my money was on it being either one of the Jacaranda Males or a Maghaltini Male. Once again this question was quickly answered when he stood and walked over and sat right in front of the vehicle, clearly not phased by it at all. The Jacaranda Male I had in mind would never do this as he has always been a little shy of the vehicles on the other hand a Maghlatini Male would not hesitate in doing so. So there we had it three Sohobele Males sitting and feeding with one Maghlatini Male and not one ounce of aggression. Had we ventured into the Twilight Zone? Although the Maghaltini Male was considerably bigger, the Sohobeles had numbers on their side, surely they could deal with him, yet here we sat with all of them as full bellied as one another looking as if they were all one happy pride. As I said the bush continually throws up surprises and you never know what you going to see next. Jacky and I have seen the Sohobeles once before eating with a Maghlatini Male on a Giraffe Kill after which one of the Sohobele's was mauled to within his life, lets hope history does not repeat itself.
Leaving the new found friends we started to head towards the two Wild Dog that were a constant on off sighting as they would run away from their kill into the thick surrounding bush where the guys would loose them before returning to the kill. Nearing the area the line-up was still quite busy so we chose to have coffee before responding. On resuming we heard that they were once again mobile and heading West, this time however it looked like they were not returning to the kill, which was only half eaten, as they continued running with purpose in the opposite direction. Not being able to keep up the guys lost them and we joined in the search to try relocate them. Checking all the areas to the North West we came up with nothing and decided to head back to the kill and hopefully get lucky there. Having the same idea Cynet also headed back and along the way found us a Leopard. Being easily distracted we joined him as he followed it also to the North West. It appeared to be following the scent of something, maybe the Dogs, and wondered along intrigued by certain areas, stopping to smell them. At first I did not know if it was Makipi's or his brother Shindzuti as it appeared a little shy but giving it it's space it soon relaxed with the vehicles and we could identify it as Makipi's Male. It has been a while since seeing him and by the looks of him and the size of his belly we can see why as he must have been busy with a kill somewhere. Following him for a while we eventually made space for another station after getting our fair share of good sightings of him.
Back to the matter at hand we continued on to the Wild Dog kill only to find that the kill was still there but no Dogs were present. I guess we can't have everything our way. With the sun now breaking out it was time to return to the lodge for brunch leaving us with something to look forward to this afternoon.
Our afternoon drive was to be a very relaxed affair as at first my guests chose not to go out but we convinced them that we could go out to a great sundowner spot and then head back to camp early. This almost came unravelled when a large herd of Elephant turned up at lunch time and proceeded to put on a show in front of camp. Heading out we headed straight in the Elephants direction wanting to get up close and personal. With the herd being very relaxed we got in among them and once again became a member of the family for the afternoon. We sat and watched as they all went about their different states of activity. One interesting interaction we witnessed was that of two young Bulls that spent the entire time mock fighting but as is always the case with siblings play over time, it turns nasty and things started to get out of hand when they became totally involved in their altercation and started to affect the rest of the herd. As the fight intensified it was not long before a couple of the adults became involved and they walked in between the two acting as a barrier. Almost immediately the less dominant youngster took his chance to back out and he quickly moved off while the herd encircled his more dominant sibling keeping him enclosed until he calmed down. With the action over we decided to move on and let the family go about their business.
Making our way to Argyle Dam we received a message that the two Jacaranda Sub Adults had been found there and it was not long before we were sitting with these two youngster almost exactly in the same spot as we had found them a few nights ago. On this occasion though they were looking a lot better as their belly's were swollen to capacity obviously having had a good meal recently. They proceeded to follow nearly the exact same route as they had the last occasion crossing to the East and although they had clearly eaten they once again showed interest in the resident Impala herd that spends it's time in the area. These being the same Impala they had stalked and missed on the last occasion and then proceeded to kill the Scrub Hare. With bellies full the conviction was not quite there this time and they chose rather to rest in a nearby thicket and watch than get involved.
With the sun approaching the horizon we moved on towards our drinking spot and arrived at a nice dam on the Kruger boundary in time to watch the sun melt into the horizon in an orange blaze and paint the sky in pastels. Enjoying the solitude of our spot we reminisced about the unbelievable sightings we had during their stay and agreed that it would take sometime before it would be matched, no doubt it will be and I look forward to the day.
With our guests choosing to sleep in on their last morning we will not be heading out on drive and thus brings a close to an unbelievable five days where we got to see two different Lion kills, eight different Leopards, approach five Rhino on foot and spend hours with countless Elephant Herds that numbered a hundred strong at times. It also brings an end to my blogging spell and I'll be leaving you in the very capable hands of Chad for the next few days. Thanks for all the support and comments, I've thoroughly enjoyed bringing you all the action.