Monday, 18 June 2012

17th June – The Granny is Still Alive and Kicking!

Photo of the Day

Morning Drive

(Herold and Chad)

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Makulu Crossing

Afternoon Drive

(Herold and Chad)

3 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride (???) with buffalo kill) – Kings, Airstrip Rd

1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Java, Western Cutline

1 x leopard (Machaton male) – Peru, Western Cutline

Daily Synopsis

Heading out on my last morning drive with my guests, I really needed leopard and zebras, and preferably both!  I started off heading east, hoping that maybe Kuhanya would pitch up, and surely some zebras must be around Kudu Pan Clearing...and if not them, then surely a rhino or five! 
Hearing that both Simbavati and Karan’s Camp had lions roaring close by to their camps in the early hours of this morning, I was hopeful for some lions being found.  Checking in the east, we soon found tracks for two large male lions, but evidently these were the ones that were being tracked around Simbavati...sadly, they were tracked straight into Klaserie in the west – impressive, seeing as the tracks came into our area from the Kruger in the east! 
My missions were not going as planned; there were no signs of the rhinos. No zebras.  And definitely no leopards.  We did however see a honey badger which is always a treat!  I then headed to Karans Camp and began checking for any signs of lions, and as Rudi, the camp manager, reported at least 3 lions roaring, it shouldn’t have been too difficult to find some signs of them.  Well, clearly I underestimated them, and after some time, I dejectedly moved on without any luck.
I moved south again, hoping that a leopard would turn up, but besides a lone giraffe, impalas, plenty of steenbuck and a herd of kudus, it was a touch quiet.
The hyena den was active, and we got to spend some time with all four cubs out of the hole, but they eventually moved off or fell asleep and we carried on what was now seeming to be Mission Impossible! 

Older hyena cubs walking around the den site area

Younger hyena cubs at the entrance of the den
Another herd of kudus, a giraffe and calf and a pair of marabou storks were all that we managed to tick off on the trip back home, and it turned out to once again be a very quiet morning; Herold also enjoyed the hyenas, as well as a lovely herd of elephants in the Nhlaralumi Riverbed.
Kudu Bull
The afternoon was one I was looking forward to, as Ricardo, a regular tour guide that joins guests was coming with a group, and all the guides at Motswari are convinced he has some kind of mhuti (medicine), as whenever he is here, the animals seem to perform, so I headed out confident that the afternoon would indeed produce where I have fallen short the last couple of drives.
As it turns out, at first I appeared to have overestimated Ricardo’s magic...but in the end, our beliefs about his powers were confirmed!
Starting out, we took a bumble past Argyle Dam, seeing nice impala, waterbuck and hippos in the area, before carrying on past more impalas, duiker, steenbuck, squirrels and a pair of tawny eagles.

Waterbuck, hippos and tree squirrel
King’s had invited us down south to see the Mafikizolo pride (without the bigger male) that had killed a buffalo a few days back, but had been acting extremely nervously the whole time.  As our new pride might or might not come back soon, I thought that heading south was not a bad option; but the trip south proved to be a quiet one, with only impala, steenbuck and a couple of giraffes making an appearance.

Giraffe on the banks of the Nhlaralumi
Drinks arrived and it was as if the animal cages were opened; as I closed down, Kuhanya female leopard was found back up north at Argyle Dam, but I was too far away to consider it an option, so went to see the lions as planned.
Arriving at the lion sighting, it appeared that even that wasn't going to work out, as all we saw were a side-striped jackal and a hyena, but seeing that neither went to the kill, it meant the lions were close – after leaving the hyena, we went back to the kill and found a lioness making a move in the hyenas direction, but she lost interest and went and fed for a while.

Hyena and Mafikizolo lioness on her buffalo kill
The other two lions – a young male and female – were resting a bit further south, but soon the male arose and moved and went to lie next to the kill himself...clearly he too is suffering from blocked sinuses, as this is the only thing that would explain why you would chose to lie next to a rotting carcass!!!

Mafikizolo young male
While watching them, Herold found something unexpected...and no, I don’t just mean a leopard!!!  He had been taking a bold move to head back north in the hope of relocating Kuhanya after she was lost, but instead found her mother, Mbali, who he had not seen this year...and coming to think of it, I don’t think I have seen her this year either!!!  The old girl was looking in good enough shape, but always on the move, making for a difficult sighting, but despite losing her once or twice, I managed to join Herold and enjoy seeing the granny again!

Giant eagle owl and Mbali female leopard on the prowl
Leaving the area after we once more lost her, I headed back to camp – as Petros swung the light around in the area where Kuhanya had been, I caught the shape of a leopard sitting about a two metres off the road as we drove past, and turned around expecting to find Kuhanya, only to realise it was far too big for her, and was actually a young male leopard!
He was reasonably relaxed and while he kept walking about, he was not trying to run away and carried on at a steady pace, allowing both Herold and Johannes to view him.  While I had ruled out Machaton male whilst in the sighting, I checked the photos when I got back and discovered that it was actually him; great to see him getting more and more relaxed with us, especially as he eventually went to sleep with Herold and Johannes watching him.

Machaton Male leopard walking his favourite path - Western Cutline!
I now look forward to see what Ricardo’s magic will bring pressure, Ricardo!

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