Monday, 9 July 2012

08th July: Game A Plenty!

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Andrea, Herold & Marka.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Tsharalumi Access.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Lily Pan Rd.
Rhino ( Male)
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Argyle Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Tsharalumi Access.
Lion ( Mafikizolo Pride) / Peru – Argyle Rd.
Leopard ( Ntombi & Cub) / Vielmieter – Nyosi River Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Andrea, Marka & Shadrack.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Sjambok Pod Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Wild West.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Voeldam.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Hidden Away Pan.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Peru – Concrete Crossing.
Lion ( 3 x Males & 3 x Females) / Argyle – Rudi's Rd.
Leopard ( Ntombi Female & Male Cub) / Vielmieter – Sweetwater Southern Access.
Leopard ( Kuhanya Female) / Peru – Broken Dam.

Daily Synopsis.

Hello peeps, Grant back in the blogging seat hope that you are all well. As you may have read the sightings of the past few days have been good and this morning was no exception, actually exceptional would be a better word.

We joined yesterday afternoon with guests that are here specifically for photography and we got off to a great start spending our entire drive with our six new Lions. Although they were sleeping when we arrived and in a horrible spot for photography it is amasing how that can change given a little patience and time and by the end of the evening we had ourselves one of the best Lion sightings we've had in a long time with them lying in an open clearing on a low outcrop of rocks.

Hoping for the same luck this morning we set off and it was not long before we picked up on a breeding herd of Elephant very close to our traversing boundary with Ingwelala, unfortunately we were a little quick out the blogs and the sun had not risen yet so the light was not great and by the time the sun had risen the Elephant had moved off across our boundary. Turning back to the South we quickly picked up on a new subject in the form of two very impressive Dagha Boys. This time the light was perfect but the Buffalo hide themselves behind the brush and kept to it, entering into a patience game we both sat there waiting for one another to move. Although we won this it was a hollow victory as they moved off down the slope and back into the shade. We should have noticed the pattern that was to be the story of our morning then.

While we scared off birds and beasts in the North. Marka had headed West were he had heard there was a Buffalo herd with the Mafikizolo Pride following behind. Reaching the area that they had been reported to have been seen, he quickly picked up on the Buffalo running to the West chasing the Lions but as was with us they had now crossed our traversing boundary and all they could do was watch as both Buffalo and Lion disappeared from view into the thick Mopane.

Heading to Argyle Dam we picked up on a young Hyena sniffing around and walking in circles clearly following a scent, investigating further we found tracks for Argyle Jnr and her two cubs moving to the South. With the tracks being very fresh I dropped Tiyani to follow up on foot hoping that we would find her taking her cubs back to a kill. I began checking the surrounding area but avoiding being to close as I did not want to interfere with the tracks. With Shadrack joining Tiyani I decided to head off to a nearby sighting of a clan of Hyena that were waiting patiently under a Maroela Tree that had the remains of Argyle Jnr's last kill still suspended from it. As was with our Buffalo and Elephant they did not present much of a photographic opportunity but non the less a nice sighting watching as they willed the carcass to magically fall out the tree. Leaving them to their drooling we headed off to the South West to follow up on Impala alarm calls we had heard whilst sitting with the Hyena. Contacting Shadrack and Tiyani the informed us that Argyle Jnr had dropped off her cubs in the rocky outcrop that she had a kill in a number of days ago and continued to the West. This happened to be in the same direction I was heading and I was pretty sure that the Impala we heard alarm calling had seen her. Weaving our way around the area checking the drainage lines we found ourselves a fair amount of general game but being more in Leopard territory it offered us limited views. Finding the Impala they no longer appeared that perturbed as they were all around a pan drinking this triggered our urge for a cup of coffee so we joined them at the pan for morning coffee and let Tiyani and Shadrack continue with the tracking process. Resuming after drinks I received a message from Shadrack informing me that they had in fact see her heading directly in our direction down one of the drainage lines that fed the pan, as they were on foot they returned to fetch their vehicle but were unable to relocate her with it. Both Johannes and myself joined in the search and we once again checked the entire area but with two herds of Impala in the area we think she slipped into hunting mode and it would be near impossible to find her in amongst the many drainage lines and the thick vegetation associated with it. If the Impala could not see her there was not much chance we would. Eventually running out of areas to check and time we slowly drifted back in the direction of the lodge for brunch, promising to return in the afternoon to try again.

Where we failed Marka, Herold and Andrea had success with Ntombi and her cub in the South and by the sounds of things it was a great sighting. Maybe a better alternative for us to follow up on as she and her cub are far more relaxed than Argyle Jnr and her two. Ah, the tough daily decisions we must make!

Having had a couple of hours to contemplate what to do, Tiyani and I both agreed that Ntombi was a better bet, although it was a camel hike there and back, we stood a better chance of success. So we explained to our guests that we would head straight South and try follow up on her and her cub. No sooner had we got mobile than we received a message that she and her cub had been located not far from where she had been in the morning. They were both now resting up in an Apple Leaf Tree, hearing this we accelerated our estimated time of arrival as it would be good to catch her in the tree as the area along the Nyosi River is very thick and not easy to negotiate should she get mobile. Passing on a very nice herd of Kudu followed by a rare sighting of Wildebeest we briefly paused to get a couple of snappy's but quickly returned to our afternoons objective. 

With not many stations responding we also had to try get into the area early as the guys wanted to head up North for the Lions which Shadrack and Marka had also headed off to visit. As we neared the sighting we received news that she had come down from the tree and got mobile along the River, just our luck! By the sounds of things the sighting was touch and go for a while but the guys must have done a great job as they followed her through the riverbed and kept the sighting alive till we got there. Our timing and placement could not have been better on this occasion as we picked up on her as she set off on the hunt. This meant that she climbed all high vantage points in the area giving us great views of her while she checked the area for potential prey. On two occasions she climbed fallen trees but not getting a satisfactory view she scaled to the upper branches of a Maroela Tree making it look so easy. From here she picked up on a herd of Impala not far away from where she had come, quick as a flash she was off down the tree and bounding in their direction. At this point being the only one's in the sighting I thought we were going to lose her but locating on the Impala we found her working her way closer along a drainage line. We found ourselves a spot where we could view both prey and predator and settled in for the afternoon. Initially things happened very quickly but as she crept closer things began to slow, she positioned herself in her drainage line as the Impala fed unaware along a Mopane belt. We thought a kill was imminent but luck favoured the Impala on this occasion as they slowly fed to the South away from her and across a clearing. This now created a problem as she would not be able to bridge the gap without being seen, being the professional patient killer that she is, she made her way to the edge of the clearing and then sat flat in the long grass waiting for night fall so that she could use the cover of darkness to implement her plan. 

Realising that we were not going to see a kill in the near future and with other stations expressing an interest in the sighting we made our way out. As luck would have it though we bumped into Ntombi's little one on rejoining the road. At first we kept our distance worried he would dash off into the nearby brush but slowly, slowly we crept closer until we got ourselves into a great position. By the looks of things though we needn't have bothered as he was super chilled and barely paid us any attention, so much so that after sitting with him a while he dropped his head and promptly took a nap in the last rays of the day. It is great to see him so relaxed and he will be one to watch in the future. Having achieved our afternoons objective and spent nearly our entire drive between mom and son we took our leave to head off for sundowners.

Finishing off drinks we circled the area a herd of Buffalo had been seen earlier in the day hoping to get lucky with the Lions that were following them in the morning but I guess you can't have all the luck in one afternoon, although we did find ourselves a Porcupine as a consolation. Nearing camp we also received news that Kuhanya was located not far from our position but having had a great sighting of Leopard already we continued on our way home, leaving Marka to visit and check up on our Motswari resident.

After an extremely eventful day I wonder what tomorrow holds in store?

1 comment:

  1. What absolutely great going - I wish I was there instead of reading your very interesting blog