Thursday, 28 June 2012

27th June: Gentle Giants.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

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

Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Western Cutline.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Hide Dam.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Terminalia Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / JayDee – Den Rd.
Leopard ( Makipi's Male) / Java – Terminalia Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

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

Elephant ( Kambaku) / Buchner.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Reception Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Hide Dam.
Leopard ( Argyle Jnr & 2 x Cubs) / Peru – Xintzele Rd
Leopard ( Makipi's Male) / Peru – Concrete Crossing.

Daily Synopsis.

Having been spoilt over the last couple of weeks with the weather this morning was the first sign of winter with the temperature dropping to a frosty 10C, not bad considering we are nearing the end of June. The cooler temperature did not bode well for game-viewing as we find that the animals only become active once things warm up, kinda like us. Being the first one's out Jacky and I headed straight to were Argyle Jnr and her two cubs had their kill but even before reaching the site we started to pick up on a number of Hyena tracks, not having put the kill up into a tree when the guys had left her could have proved costly. We continued on to make sure our suspicions were correct and finding where she had the kill we now found patches of hair and shards of bone, definitely not the eating habits of a Leopard, with the tracks to confirm we could confidently say that it had been stolen by Hyena during the night. The tracks also told us that the Hyena's dragged the carcass some distance and that the Leopard had actually continued to follow them but eventually she chose to head back South fetch her cubs and then move off to the West. Knowing that without meat we would struggle to get a good view of her and her shy cubs we decided instead to respond to a small herd of Elephant Bulls that Chad had found very near camp. These were also on our ever expanding Christmas list and it was good to get one in the bag so early in the morning. Spending considerable time with them, as not only were they impressive but also it was warmer to sit in the sun, we eventually roused ourselves from hibernation wanting to head back down to the Hyena Den and try our luck once again. While we headed South, Herold and Chad had picked up on Lion tracks that was to keep them busy for the majority of the morning. These tracks were found by Shadrack on our far Eastern boundary and reports of them heading West were called in by various stations. They then turned to the South and zig-zagged their way down the Tsharalumi River before turning once again to the West and walked straight out our traversing area on the Western boundary, an incredible distance to have walked in so short a time. It also leads me to believe it was those two males we saw the other day as only they seem to cover such a distance regardless of territory. More interesting than the Lion tracks that Shadrack picked up on the Eastern Boundary was the Black Rhino tracks that he also picked up on coming in from Kruger. These were later tracked for the entire morning as it first headed West and then turned to the North were the last tracks were seen over half way through our traversing area, clearly following the example set by the Lions.

Our trip to the Hyena Den once again proved fruitless and we set off to Hide Dam for coffee but before reaching the dam we again picked up on a massive herd of Elephant that must have been conservatly fifty strong. It seems to be a pattern for Jacky and I as it has now happened on three occasions that when we don't find the Hyena we find Elephant at Hide Dam. With the all the Elephant approaching the dam across the open plain kicking up the dust along the way made for an extremely memorable sighting and the disappointment of the Hyena was very soon a distant memory, what Hyena! We spent the rest of our morning with them as they drank and mock fought around the dam. We were so captivated that we actually forgot that we were meant to return to the Hyena Den and try our luck once more but instead followed the Elephant as they headed of to feed. The sighting was further enhanced by the fact that while sitting with the Elephant we could also see Giraffe, Zebra, Steenbok and Warthog, not bad for a cool morning.

While we slowly wound our way back to the lodge the rest of the gang picked up on a Buffalo herd that also had a bonus sighting in store for them in the form of the young Makipi's Male following behind the herd. Not that he is big enough or strong enough to be any threat to the Buffalo, YET, he does have the potential though as already for his age he is massive. With the guys enjoying a good sighting of him it ran them all into overtime and on this occasion everybody except us was late back to the lodge for breakfast. True to form Godfrey was last and was lucky to make it back for lunch let alone brunch.

On afternoon drive we once again chose to head North to Buchner and try our luck. Having gone three days earlier in the morning we thought we would give the afternoon a bash and see if we could find anything at the waterholes spread out on the property, failing that at least we would have the best location in the Timbavati for a sundowner.

While we made our way up North quickly so that we could give ourselves time if we did find tracks to follow up, Chad chose to try his luck at tracking down the Black Rhino that had been followed heading North on morning drive. Picking up on tracks early they began the process of trying to locate their quarry which had unfortunately turned direction and was heading East back towards the Kruger boundary. Having last seen Black Rhino four years ago they persevered and found that the Rhino had actually spent a fair amount of time in our traversing area and eventually following the tracks out into Kruger they reckoned that had we had more time in the morning it would have been located as it appeared that it only crossed back late afternoon. Definitely worth a try in finding and something to look out for in the future.

Arriving on Buchner we wound our way around the pans but only came up with tracks and not a lot else. Arriving on the Eastern boundary we once again picked up on our tracks for the pride that we had tracked the last time we were here. From the tracks it looked like they had walked here in the morning, Murphy's Law! They stopped at one of the pans and then continued to the South West and promptly walked back to the exact spot that they had spent so much time at the last trip here, there must be something about the broken dam wall that they enjoy and we once again found were the cubs had played while the parents rested below in the riverbed. Running out of light we eventually had to call off our search which was a pity as we had forgone the sunset in favour of trying to find our elusive pride. We still made our way to the koppies as it sits high above the surrounding bush and provides beautiful views to the horizon in all directions. We would try our luck in bumping into the pride after dark on our way home. Resuming after drinks we headed off to the pans that lay along the Lions last known direction but we came up empty handed and they once again eluded us.

While we had ourselves a fairly quit afternoon the rest of the gang had themselves a busy drive finding two different Leopard sightings. After loosing her kill to Hyena's Argyle Jnr and her cubs had moved a little to the South West where she promptly made another Impala kill. She had positioned the kill well and the sighting did not provide the greatest views but patience paid off for Chad and Herold who got to see one of the cubs very well and the guys were pretty amased at how relaxed it was with the vehicle, at one stage it apparently was twelve metres from the vehicle and did not show any signs of stress. As the kill was still on the ground the guys had to leave once it became dark, you would have thought she would have learnt and hoisted it into a tree. Lets hope that she does not lose it overnight again as it would be nice to see them. Chad also bumped into Makipi's Male on his way home which was a bit of a surprise as they had seen him in the morning a lot further to the South. I think we all underestimate how far and quickly animals can move when they want to. So for some it was an the busy afternoon they were looking for, for others it was the quite afternoon that they were looking for. Having not seen Lions in the last three days tomorrows sole focus will be on finding these elusive cats as many of our guests check out.

Due to admin work backing up I'll be handing over the blogging duties to Chad for the next couple of days. Thanks for the support and comments and we'll catch up next week.


1 comment:

  1. thanks for some fabulous elephant action Grant ..the winter colours are a glory. Your blog is so full of surprises that sitting here through our mauritian winter I often imagine I am back in the jeep.
    margery poncini