Tuesday, 3 July 2012

01st July: Busy, Busy, Busy!

Photo of the Day
The collared Ximpuku male lion and his baby buffalo kill

Morning Drive
(Chad and Grant)
2 x lions (2 Ximpuku male lions/Collared coalition with buffalo calf kill) – Karans, Western Cutline
2 x rhino (relaxed mother and calf)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Mbali, Syringa South
1 x buffalo bull – Argyle, Long Rd
10 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Long Rd
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Airstrip

Afternoon Drive
(Grant, Shadrack, Herold and Andrea)

Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Argyle – Long Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Leopard ( Shindzuti Male) / Peru – Pan Rd.
Leopard ( Machaton Male) / Mbali – Antheap Corner.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Mbali – False Marula.

Daily Synopsis
Good morning!  Sorry for once again delaying the blog posts, but was a busy weekend at Motswari as could be seen by last blog post!
Anyway, today was my last morning drive for a while as I am heading on leave tomorrow, leaving Grant and Andrea to look after you folks for a while...and yes, that does mean that Andrea is back!  So a big welcome back to her as she joins our family at Motswari on a permanent basis, and we are delighted to have her back J
After yesterday’s rather long day (a 19-hour work day to be exact) most of us eventually got to bed around 1am, and it should not have been a surprise that of the 17 guests, only one made it for morning drive!!! Hahaha, okay, thats a bit of a lie, a good number did surface to join Shaddy and Herold on an early morning bush walk.
I took the drive with my one guest, but we only had about 2 hours to be out there, so I wasn't expecting much, but wanted to head to the hyena den to see if I could see the new baby.  Things were going well and we weren’t being delayed too much until we got to the area where the buffalo herd had been last night and the tracks headed off in an unexpected direction; then we caught a glimpse of a white tail on the road up ahead, and Chris, my guest, thought it could have been a wild dog, so I drove a bit quicker, but arrived to see it was in fact a side-striped jackal.  In my rush, Petros didn’t have time to look too much at the tracks, but amidst the 2000-odd hooves making marks in the sand, he thought he had spotted lion tracks, so I reversed, and quickly ascertained that he had indeed seen lion tracks.  And I knew that they were fresh...and I knew this without even having to look at the tracks.  I wish I could claim to have super tracking skills, but rather I just used my logic; if the lion was there standing 15m off the road, there was a good chance that he had made the tracks quite recently!!!
Yes, we had almost driven past them!  Regardless, we found them, and by them I mean the two Ximpuku males (Ghosts) with the collar.  These lions that walk around the reserve each night roaring and leaving tracks, but are never seen, were eventually seen!  This morning they weren’t going anywhere during the night they had returned from 5km south to once more pursue same buffalo herd that had been after last night, but this time they had got lucky in picking off one of the calves, and the smaller collared male lay eating the kill whilst the bigger counterpart rested nearby.  These are big lions.  And sadly we can also confirm that last week they killed another of the Machaton young males, leaving the Machaton Pride with only 5 males sub-adults left...and the sad part is that we are all certain that the killing is not yet over.  As long as these two boys stay away from the Ross Pride that we see occasionally, we will be happy, and this is because it was confirmed yesterday that this pride from the south has a new white lion cub in their midst; hopefully we shall get to see it in the near future!

The bigger, non-collared male

The smaller of the males enjoying the spoils of the kill

Welcome back Andrea :) (enjoying the sighting with Motswari regulars, Val and John)
We left the lions after some nice viewing and me needing to risk my life to retrieve my sunglasses, but carried on back north rather than heading to the hyena den.  We soon found the large herd of buffalos heading towards Mbali Dam, but time was slowly running out, and we still wanted to check up on a leopard’s kill; heading to the area, we saw nice waterbuck, impala, kudu and even a hyena as we were approaching the leopard kill; it was not a usual kill, as rather than being an impala or any antelope for that matter, we saw the lifeless body of an unfortunate civet high up in a weeping boerbean on the riverbank at concrete crossing, but alas, no leopard.  And yes, I just used the word “alas”.

Buffalo herd and kudu
I then headed back to camp passing hippos, giraffe, impala and a lone elephant bull before closing down; Grant got to see the lions, a big group of elephant bulls, a lone buffalo bull, and even the relaxed mother rhino and her calf that have thankfully moved much deeper into our traversing area, so hopefully more sightings of them to be had in the future.
Now this is where I hand over to Grant to carry on with the blog, so please keep on enjoying the updates over the next week, and I will catch you all again when I’m back from leave!

Well I'm back but only for a couple of days as we welcome Andrea back into action. Great to have her as a full-time member of the team now and we wish her all the best in her time here. So after a pretty eventful morning there was a lot to look forward to in the afternoon we only hoped we could fit it all in. Petros and I decided that it would be better if we started with the animals that we could not view after dark so working in reverse we headed off to look for the Elephant that we had seen not far from Motswari. Being a rather warm afternoon we thought they would not have drifted far away from Argyle Dam and we were proved right as we found three of them actually in the dam swimming and one on the bank. It is always a great sighting to watch as they play around carefree and not restricted by their massive weight, so we sat on the dam wall and enjoyed the beautiful environment that we found ourselves in. Not only did we have the Elephant to keep us entertained but also the many Hippo in the Dam as well as a huge Crocodile, we not even going to get started on the many birds in and around the water. 

Being aware that we had limited light hours we eventually set off once again now in search of the large Buffalo herd that was seen along the Tsharalumi River. Along route we received a message from Johannes asking us our location, on telling him he told us to continue down the same road we were travelling, as he had found a young male Leopard, hmm bonus! Arriving on site we caught a brief view of him as he crossed an open area down into a drainage line, from the size and general looks it looked like Shindzuti to me and where he was heading and his shy nature we were going to have a tough time following him. Needless to say we gave it a bash and we had ourselves a few brief glimpses of him as he always kept some thick vegetation between us as he moved along the drainage line. Not wanting to pressure him we kept our distance and when he moved into the real thick stuff we chose to leave him and let him go along his way.

Resuming our quest of locating the Buffalo it did not take us long as we saw them on a hill in the distance. Making our way into the middle of the herd we sat with them as they slowly roused themselves from their afternoons rumination and readied themselves for their evenings feeding. 

Being aware that the sun was now fast approaching the horizon and we still wanted to try relocate on the Rhino mom and her calf before dark we took our leave of the big herd and headed to the West. Arriving in the area of where the Rhino had last been seen we were not done any favours by the very thick Mopane and extremely rocky soil which made finding tracks near impossible, especially given the light. In theses circumstances we could only drive the surrounding roads and hope we got lucky and bumped into them. Circumnavigating the area and checking favoured areas we came up empty handed and eventually having lost nearly all the light we chose to stop in a nearby open grassed area hoping they would pop up and join us for our evenings sundowner. Unfortunately drinks came and went without any visitors so we set off once again this time to try our luck in finding the two male Lions from the morning. We did not hold out much hope as Shadrack had pretty much dedicated his whole afternoon to finding them but with no joy. Our plan was to try relocate on the Buffalo herd and check on the areas around them but before finding them we were once again distracted by a Leopard, this time it was Machaton Male who we have now found twice on the same road. As is with all Leopards they become far more relaxed after dark and although he is as shy as Shindzuti during the day after dark you can follow him quite easily. Forgetting about the Lions completely we followed him as he moved through his territory marking the occasional bush here and there. He would also stop to roll in the Buffalo dung that littered the area this would allow us to sit with him out in the open as he masked his own scent. With time not being our friend today we eventually had to pull ourselves away as he made his way in the direction that we thought the Buffalo herd could be in and thus brought to an end a marvellous drive.

The rest of the gang had mixed fortunes as Andrea unfortunately missed out on two Leopard sightings that were lost shortly before her arrival but Herold relocated on Shindzuti who had made his way to the Civet kill and was found feeding on it. Add Ntombi and Makipi's to the tally and it was an extremely good afternoon for Leopard. Lets hope tomorrow is as good.

No comments:

Post a Comment