Wednesday, 27 June 2012

26th June: Is Silence Golden?

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack, Marka & Godfrey.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Tsharalumi Access.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Argyle – Long Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Crossing Below Java.
Rhino ( 5 x Crash)

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack, Godfrey, Chad & Herold.)

Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Long Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Giraffe Pan Link.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Java/ Mbali Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Scholtz – Mananga Cutline.
Leopard ( Argyle Jnr Cub) / Argyle – Crossing Below Argyle Dam.

Daily Synopsis.

Waking to overcast skies the temperature was warmer and we hoped to find things out and about a little earlier than the days gone by. While Marka and Godfrey did not need to head far North to find a herd of Elephant both Shadrack and I headed to the East keen to check up on the Buffalo Herd that has been hanging out on the Kruger Cutline visiting every afternoon for water at Majavi Dam. Failing finding them we were on the lookout for Rhino or Lion. Driving South along the Kruger boundary we once again found their tracks for our Buffalo, they had yet again crossed to the East clearly preferring the grasing in Kruger, no doubt we will find them this eve back at the dam for water. Continuing to the South we turned our focus to finding Rhino and made our way towards Zebrawood Pan, a favourite spot for Rhino to wallow. Before reaching the pan we picked up fresh tracks for a crash of Rhino and began the following them. They took us to the pan where they had a drink of water before turning Southwest. With the tracks being fresh enough Jacky went onto foot while I drove the roads in the area. While stopped trying to ascertain what was new and what was old tracks we heard the distinctive roar of Lions to our South East. It sounded distant and if it was not in Kruger than it would be very close. As Shadrack was driving the boundary we left looking for the Lions to him while we concentrated on the Rhino. Continuing South our tracking was fast forwarded when a station reported seeing a crash of Rhino's a little South of us running into a Mopane thicket, which he was not going to follow them into. Having spent the majority of our morning looking for them we decided to take a chance and follow up from the thicket hoping that they would have moved out by the time we got there. Shadrack had now joined us and we set Tiyani and Jacky off on foot while we both went for our morning coffee. While enjoying our rusks and hot beverage we received news from the trackers that they had located on the crash which had now made there way out of the thicket and were resting in a clearing. Shaddy finished up first and made his way towards the sighting but with our crash of Rhino having been in Kruger the past couple days they were a little weary of the vehicle and moved off every time Shaddy got near. Joining him we decided to drive to the East of them in the direction that they were moving and go onto foot. Both Shadrack and I realised this was going to be a challenge with the Rhino being a little wary and so many people, it did not help that every foot fall would create a crackle as the dried leaves were crushed below. Not ideal conditions to sneak up on them but having done all the hard work in finding them we wanted our guest now to see them. Having the wind in our favour we set off but it was not long before the Rhino became aware of our presence but they did not seem that concerned and stuck to their little patch of thicket feeling safe there. It was a good position for them as we struggled to get a good view from any angle and with us eventually getting to within fifty metres we could only see partial body parts, luckily those were of their heads that they held high. Not getting the greatest of views was immaterial as it is more the experience of being close to these majestic mammals on foot and it really puts their size into perspective. Making our way back to the car we once again found ourselves out of time and racing back to camp to avoid the wroth of the kitchen.

Our afternoons first objective was to find Giraffe and after that if time allowed we planned to try relocate on the Buffalo that Marka had found in the morning. With a route all plotted out we set off, putting the message out there that we were looking for Ndlamithi, which translates to “ taller than a tree.” It was not long before we were making slight adjustments to our route as another station had found us a nice herd of six to eight Giraffe a little to the West of our intended route. Making our way their we found one lone male feeding off in a drainage line a fair distance from the road, contacting the station who had informed us about the herd he reassured us that there were more and that we should check to the North. Not holding much hope we checked the surrounding roads and sure as Bob we got lucky with a nice mix of males, females and a calf. After looking for them the last couple days we spent a fair amount of time with them but with the sun slowly reaching the horizon we wanted to leave ourselves enough time to follow up on the Buffalo so after a good sighting we set off.

Making our way along the Tsharalumi River we headed off to the last known location of the herd but shortly before reaching the area we picked up on fresh tracks for them heading to the North East. Judging from the dung and the tracks we were not far off and it did not take us long to track them down catching them in an open clearing feeding. On this occasion we caught them in the perfect light and we stuck with them as they slowly fed to the North. 

The light eventually failed us and we chose to leave as we wanted to head back to the far South West corner for drinks in the hope that the Lions we had heard in the morning would once again call in the evening and we would be able to locate them on audio. Rushing across the reserve we arrived a little after the sun had set and set up drinks at a dam in anticipation, all we needed now was for the Lions to play along. Unfortunately drinks came and went in complete silence and we were all left wondering afterwards how it was that such a wild environment could be so dead quit. Already being half way to our South Eastern boundary we decided to check along the Kruger boundary back to the North. It was as quite a drive back as it was at drinks and all that we found was a huge herd of Buffalo that was preparing themselves for the evenings rest. Even they were dead quit, which is unusual for Buffalo especially in these numbers. Maybe both the Lion and the Buffalo were aware of one another's presence and therefore the stillness of the evening. Lets hope we break the silence tomorrow.

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