Tuesday, 1 May 2012

30th April: Wild Dogs Or Wild Men?

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack & Herold.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Motswari Norther1n Access.
Leopard ( Umfana Male) / Kings – Colbert Rd.
Wild Dog ( 18 x Pack) / Vielmieter – Vielmieter Access.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Johannes.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Motswari Reception.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Buchner – KNP Cutline.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / DeLuca – Argyle Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / DeLuca – Argyle Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Buchner – Buchner Koppies.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Mbali – Java Dam Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Buchner – Buchner Access.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Buchner – Buchner Koppies.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Buchner – KNP Cutline.
Wild Dog ( 18 x Pack) / Kings – Colbert Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

Starting as any other Autumns morning, clear, crisp and still which allowed fog to hang in the lower areas, it once again promised to be a beautiful day. We were still on our Leopard mission and decided once again to give our spotted residents in the North a chance to redeem themselves. Shadrack was not as positive and headed towards the central sections while Herold headed out West wanting to follow up on the Buffalo from the evening before and hopefully find himself a Rhino at the same time.

We checked to the North East of camp in search of that ever elusive Kuhanya not finding any sign of her there we moved our search to the North of camp another favourite area of hers but still nothing. As if to continue with our trend from yesterday we did find a herd of Elephant literally on the doorstep of camp. With them moving into a thickly vegetated Mopane belt running alongside a drainage belt we did not spend much time with them.

While looping around camp and heading for Xinatsi Dam we received news that a pack of eighteen Wild dog had been found in our Southern traversing area. The first thing that came to mind was, “sh1t the circus has arrived in town.” Closely followed by damn I'm a long way from where I need to be. As is with every Wild dog sighting when they arrive in the area they draw an extreme amount of attention and rightly so as they are rare and make for a very special sighting. I'm not sure what it is that they do to the guides though as they become Wild men in responding and excuse the bad pun but it becomes a total dog show and free for all. Please note that I do not exclude myself from this as the heart quickens and I find myself racing in their direction. With them being mobile South we would be very lucky to get there before they crossed our Southern traversing boundary but this is were working here in the Timbavati is great as the guys from the South immediately extended us an invitation should they cross. With this news I backed off the accelerator and decided to withdraw from the sighting until later in the morning, responding once things had calmed down.

Finding myself now in the central section I decided to check around Java Dam where Klakiso, Makipi's and Shindzuti had last been seen. As was with our search for Kuhanya we came up empty handed and did not even find any trace of the three of them. We did however have a very nice sighting of a herd of Zebra on the airstrip and found ourselves another Giraffe. 

Drifting further South we found ourselves nearing the sighting but there was still a very long line up so we chose to take our coffee break at Entrance Dam. Finishing off our drink we returned to a quieter radio, this was reassuring as maybe we could now get in on the line up. Calling the station in charge I received the news that the Wild dogs had in fact given the guys the slip and were last seen running off through a Mopane thicket to the South East. On a positive note though they had stumbled across a Leopard and its kill which was then stolen by the dogs but then this was in turn stolen from them by two Hyenas that were also in the area. We did not need a second invitation to visit the Leopard as Herold and I made our way in his direction. We arrived just as he was making his way back from chasing the Hyena that had stolen his meal. He had managed to salvage a leg and some of the hide which he had now stashed up a Marula Tree. As we sat with him he jumped up into the tree and began feeding on the remains of the carcass. With it being low in the branches and relatively open we had a great sighting of this iconic scene of Africa and all thoughts and disappointment of missing out on the dogs faded away. We sat with him awhile as he tried to salvage what flesh he could from the leg bone and hide. Having achieved our mornings objective in style we could return to camp very satisfied and who knows maybe the circus will return to town this afternoon! 

After the manic morning I was in need of a change of pace and an escape from the rat race. I approached my guests with the afternoons options, we could head South and hope they relocated on the Wild Dog and enter into the bun fight to see them before the sun set or we could head up to the North East where we would not see another vehicle and could switch off the radio and just drive around taking in what was on offer. I did mention it was very hit and miss up there and we could possibly go the entire drive without seeing anything but it is still one of my favourite properties and it has views to die for, not to mention the best Phuza stop in the reserve. All agreed that we should head up North proving that it is not all about the animals and more about the overall experience of the African Bush.

We got off to a good start with a breeding herd of Elephant literally at our reception. I'm sure they the same herd that spent the day in front of the lodge at the dam. Spending some time with them we finally set off on our adventure. 

Our progress was once again interrupted by a nice Bull Elephant that we found in a riverbed that was collecting sand in his trunk and throwing it onto himself. A little further down the road we found a Bull Herd with one very impressive male amongst them. Watching as they slowly fed we eventually had to move on otherwise we would yet again miss our rendezvous with the sun a koppie and the horizon. 

With us not getting very far our path was blockaded when we ran into a herd of Buffalo, them and Elephant truly seem to be around every corner at the moment. Weaving our way through the herd we continued North and our drive took on a more picturesque landscape theme.

Driving a combination of beautiful riverine bush and partially open plains we did not come across much else until our arrival at the koppies. Well that's if you don't count the small Buffalo herd that we bumped shortly before getting there and then proceeded to meander through the bush below us while we sat up on the rocks. While sitting there we could also see another much larger herd on the horizon that seemed to be following a large lone Bull Elephant. From our vantage point we had 360 degree views of the bush below that extended as far as the eye could see and we watched as the sun melted into the Western horizon unobstructed.

Finishing off our drinks we resumed our drive now in search of Hyena which was a late addition to the Christmas List. Arriving around Motswari early we checked all their favourite haunts but came up empty handed. I guess that is something left for tomorrow along with the Wild Dog which Herold and Johannes had managed to squeeze in a visit to shortly before sunset.


  1. Wow, these photos are INCREDIBLE! Looks like you were right on the tree with that leopard!

  2. Great day Grant. Awesome photos of Umfana male leopard.