Sunday, 24 June 2012

23rd June: Tracking &Trailing.

Pic Of The Day.

Morning Drive.

( Grant, Chad & Shadrack.)

Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Karans – KNP Boundary.
Leopard ( Makipi's Male) / Java – Java Dam Access.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant & Marka.)

Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / DeLuca – Timbavati/ Umbabat Cutline.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Karans – Majavi Dam.
Rhino ( Female & Male Calf)
Leopard ( Makipi's Male) / Java – Java Dam Access.
Leopard ( Mbali Female) /Java – Java Dam Access.

Daily Synopsis.

Well hello there, Grant back here in the blogging hot seat taking over from Chad while he is off drive for the next couple of days. Thought I'd ease myself into it so Jacky and I decided we would head up to Buchner where we would either find lots to write about or nothing at all. Our guests Val and John are on their third trip here to Motswari and will be staying with us for ten nights. They have been joined by their friends Dennis and Jodie who are on their first trip to South Africa so there is still a little pressure to show them all the wonders of our area. As you have read in the past days blogs we have seen a fair amount so this prompted us to head North and take a chance.

Chad headed South wanting to visit the Hyena Den, which has been very active over the past few days, while Shaddy needed to find Buffalo and Rhino for his guests on their final drive. They found their Buffalo very early in the morning still resting on the Kruger Boundary where Chad had seen them the previous evening. They also found tracks for the two Lions that visited us yesterday following behind the Buffalo and it could explain why they moved off quite quickly into Kruger. Shaddy and Tiyani did try follow up on the Lions but could not follow the tracks after they had found where they had been resting as it appeared the Buffalo had trampled over the Lion tracks. It sounded like Chad had a great sighting of the Hyena at the den with three adults and the two cubs being present. Shaddy then continued on to visit Makipi's who still is busy with his stolen Impala kill on Java. Both Chad and Shaddy then tried their luck in finding the female Rhino and her calf down South but this morning they eluded them.

Our trip North got very exciting when we found fresh tracks for a large pride of Lions which included males, females and cubs, from the composition it could only be the Maghlatini Males and the Timbavati Pride. It got even better when the tracks moved away from our traversing boundary deeper into our area. Jacky and I set about the tracking process, at first we used the car to check the surrounding roads in the direction that the Lions were heading, trying to speed things up. Things became a little more difficult when they left the road and that little bit more tough when they split, with the male heading to the North West and the females and cubs continuing to the North. Aware that the Kruger boundary was to our North we sped off and checked that they had not crossed. Not finding any tracks crossing except those of the male we returned to follow the female and cubs. We found they turned a little to the East where they made their way to Buchners Big Dam. It was here that things got very confusing as we had tracks going in every direction multiple times. This was due to them resting in the area as we found where they had been lying down and the youngsters had taken to playing in and around the broken dam wall. With Jacky and I both on foot now it took us some time to figure out exactly what happened and to put the pieces of the puzzle together. With our guests drinking coffee nearby they must have thought we had lost it as we walked in a number of circles before heading off back in the direction we had tracked the Lions from. This was not a good thing as they now looked like they were heading in the direction of the male Lion who we had cross into Kruger. We were further slowed by the extremely difficult conditions to track in with the ground being rock hard and covered in stones. I still don't know how Jacky does it but he kept us on the trail through some very rough areas. Knowing the tracks were heading straight for Kruger we were determined to track them out so no doubt would lie in our heads that they may have stopped to rest or may of changed direction. Reaching the Kruger boundary we could not find tracks crossing but there was very fresh dung for Lion on the cutline, as if they had left us a sign to let us know they knew they were being followed and wishing us better luck next time, awfully considerate of them!

Needless to say both Jacky and I had to run back to the vehicle as we were well late but I guess you win some and you lose some. I did learn a lot about tracking though so all was not lost and am ready for the next time.

So where our morning drive was one of paying Wildlife Tax our afternoon was spent collecting our returns. We had decided to head to the East to follow up on the Buffalo that Shadrack had seen in the morning. We had a feeling they would make their way back to Majavi Dam for water and hopefully the Lions would be close on their heels. Before getting to the Kruger Boundary we found ourselves a small herd of Buffalo that were busy grazing in an open clearing, not quite the herd we had in mind, so after spending a little time with them we continued onto Majavi Dam to see if the bigger herd had made their way back. While driving the Kruger Cutline we noticed a couple Dagha Boys crossing the boundary to the West and into our traversing area, immediately we knew they were trailing the herd and it should not be long before we found them. Approaching the dam we found the herd had already finished drinking and were now slowly feeding to the North.

Instead of following the herd our attention was drawn to the two Hippo's in the Dam. One of which was out on the island dung splattering when a large bow wave appeared and the other Hippo came storming out the water in his direction at which he fled in the opposite direction back into the water. The pursuer was relentless and continued to chase him round the circumference of the dam. On completing two laps they seemed to both run out of steam and came to rest on the one side giving one another their space.

After all the action and not finding any fresh signs for the Lions we decided to head off toward Java and once again try our luck with Makipi's who had eluded us the evening before. Knowing Chad had checked the Karans/ Scholtz Cutline in the morning and not found any signs for the Rhino and her calf we decided to check a road a little further to the East on our way. As we approached a clearing we once again struck gold as their stood mom and her calf. At first they shied from the vehicle but once we got ourselves into a good position and with them being reluctant to leave their good spot we had a unbelievable sighting of them and I'm it's sure the best of them to date. Sitting patiently they relaxed completely and at one stage they approached to within twenty metres with the calf being very inquisitive. It was during this period that Jacky was able to identify it as a “ him.” This is great as now we have one male and one female calf. With them being so close we were reluctant to start the vehicle and spook them so we waited till they had moved off a fair distance before we once again headed on our way. With the youngster becoming more approachable on every occasion lets hope it is not long before we have it completely relaxed with our presence.

Once again we were struggling to get to Makipi's before the sun set but on this occasion we made it into the area at sunset. We checked where he had moved the remainder of his stolen kill to but it was gone and he was not to be found in the immediate area. Knowing his M.O. Jacky and I began driving around in the area checking in expanding circles every Maroela Tree and Termite Mound. Having no luck to the East we looped back to the West and as we were about to once again circle I noticed out the corner of my eye the distinctive shape of a Leopard standing across two branches. Turning in his direction we noticed why he had given away his position as a Hyena made its way in our direction. Yet again fortune had shined down on us and we got to catch him in dusks golden light. We chose to spend the rest of our daylight with him as he surveyed the area before turning to grooming himself. Having had a great sighting of him we handed over to Marka who watched as he descended from the tree and began heading to the South. It was not long though before he came running back to the North pursued by another Leopard. It was Mbali who still was hanging around in the area trying to scavange the scraps of her kill. She must have been there the whole time we sat with him and here we thought he was staring at us.

Heading for our sundowners we wrapped up a fantastic afternoon and after the luck we had both Jacky and I agreed that it would be back to the Wildlife Tax drawing board for us tomorrow. We wait and see.


  1. Grant - what a fantastic write up and pictures....unbelievable! Wonderful encounters - so incredible to read this and see it all. You are all SO lucky to have this in your lives. Thank you so much for sharing with us and allowing us to see thru' a window into your wonderful life with the animals. I really do hope I get the chance to visit Motswari one day. Awesome.

  2. WOW Grant, great pics of the buffalo's and leopard.
    Welcome back to the blog, and I know you will do well in Chad's absence :)
    Let's hope for some good luck on the lion front again...


  3. It's lovely your last picture, congrats!!!!
    Maia afrika