Wednesday, 11 July 2012

10th July: Our Future Stars!

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack & Marka.)

Lion ( 3 x Females & 3 x Males) / DeLuca – Deluca Trough.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter - 2nd Tsharalumi Crossing.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / DeLuca – Drongo Drive.
Leopard ( Argyle Jnr) / Peru – Madash Dam.
Leopard ( Argyle Jnr's Cub) / Peru – Frankolin Pan.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – JayDee Access.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Vielmieter – JayDee Access.
Rhino ( 2 x Males)
Rhino ( Female & Male Calf & Male)
Rhino ( 3 x Skittish)

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack, Marka, Pete & Andrea.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Long Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Karans – KNP Cutline.
Leopard ( Argyle Jnr's Male Cub) / Peru – Hamerkop Rd.
Lion ( 3 x Females & 3 x Males) / DeLuca – DeLuca/ Luttig Cutline.

Daily Synopsis.

Waking to a very misty morning the temperature clearly had plummeted during the night. Our goal for the morning was the same as the afternoon before but this time we would actually like to get around to it and not be side-tracked.

Marka headed off to the East wanting to follow up on the Lions after missing out the evening before. Shadrack was looking for Buffalo and Rhino so he headed in the opposite direction to the West. While we set off straight South wanting to follow up on the Rhino and visit the Hyena den.

It was not long before we picked up on the tracks for the three Rhino, in amongst their tracks there were also tracks for an Aardvark, tempting! Keeping focus Tiyani started to follow up on foot while I drove the surrounding roads but before getting a chance, Tiyani radioed me to let me know that he located them and that we could approach from where we first found the tracks. Heading into the area we crossed a beautiful clearing but then on the opposite side was a thick Mopane Belt that eventually dropped down to a drainage line. Picking up Tiyani he confirmed my fears that they were slap bang in the middle of the thicket! Reaching the edge of the belt we decided to rather head in on foot . Walking a large circle around we tried get upwind and into the sun but even with this on our side we approached a little to noisily and they dashed off further to the North East. While Tiyani continued to track on foot we returned to the vehicle as they had now headed into a more open area that we would be able to approach by vehicle. Getting through the drainage line and negotiating the Mopane forest successfully we once again received a message from Tiyani that he had located on our friends. Finding him in an open clearing we collected him and set off in the direction of the Rhino who we could now see feeding to the East of us. Mom and calf are very relaxed and paid little attention to the vehicle but the male was a little shyer and kept moving off pulling the others with him. Working our way around them once more we got ourselves in a position that they were comfortable with and settled to start feeding. The little one was so relaxed he dropped to the ground for a nap, he was soon followed by the other male, while mom was left to feed. 

With them now being nearly totally obscured by the surrounding brush we headed off for morning coffee.

After a warming drink and a lesson on tracks from Tiyani we slowly made our way towards the Hyena Den. Approaching the den it looked like our luck was in as two of the youngsters plus an adult were out but there was no sign of the very young one, it must have decided that it was warmer inside than out and slept in. None the less the other two were very cute and posed for photo's. Getting our memory cards filled we eventually took our leave and started our trip back North.

Marka found his Lions and spent the majority of the morning with them as they ran about playing and then settled on a termite mound to try dig out a family of Warthogs that had taken shelter within. Eventually tiring of the effort of digging they settled on the mound to rest. Shadrack in turn had himself a very busy morning finding two different sets of Rhino, his buffalo and two different Leopard sightings. Admittedly one Rhino and one Leopard sighting were very brief as they were shy and moved off quickly out of sight.

Our afternoon got off to a very similar start as the day before with us literally leaving camp and receiving a message that a large herd of Elephant was slowly making it's way towards Argyle Dam. Wanting to head that way in any case hoping to catch the Hippo sun-bathing on the banks we could not think of anything better than spending time with Ellie's. Arriving with the herd we were in for a very pleasant surprise, as you avid followers of the blog will know we have had a young elephant calf that was severely injured and we have covered its struggle over the last couple months as it has slowly but surely gained strength and healed. Making our way into this particular herd it was not long before we picked up on the distinctive scar on it's right temple and the swollen left knee of our little survivor. You'll all be glad to hear it is looking great and gained so much weight that it was nearly not recognisable and I had to double check to make sure it was in fact our little Ellie. It was now keeping up with the herd and is walking fine, the hobble is only noticeable when it increases it's speed. We sat with the herd hoping they would make there way to Argyle dam but after nearly forty five minutes they seemed very content in feeding below the dam wall with some of them drinking in the river below the dam.

Wanting to follow up on the young male Leopard before it got to dark we took our leave of these magnificent creatures and one particular little hero. We were fortunate that the young male had been found still resting in the same tree as this morning, leaving us with no work to do. Getting to the sighting we found him resting high up in a Knobthorn Tree oblivious to the world around him. If he was relaxed yesterday, today he was super chilled and a true star is in the making here! He showed no signs of discomfort at our arrival and was more intrigued and inquisitive with us. Sitting with him he offered up poses akin to celebrities and models and with the late winter afternoon sun blanketing him in golden light it was a photographers dream! With no other stations showing interest we sat with him a good half hour before Andrea arrived. Not wanting to push our luck we pulled out the sighting so not to put the pressure of two vehicles on him, not that I think he would actually have cared.

With the sun fast approaching the horizon I estimated that we could still make it down to the Hyena Den once more before sunset. Shooting South we did in fact arrive to the sun hitting the horizon but on this occasion we got luck with one adult present the two youngsters and then also the young pup. At first they were in a horrible spot but with us moving into a clearing and sitting a while, the curiosity of the two youngster got the better of them and they moved towards us thus boosting the confidence of the pup who also made its way in our direction. Although the sun had now set we had ourselves an amasing sighting as the two youngsters played around the vehicle and then got up to mischief in trying to chew on different parts of the vehicle, they are getting very cheeky! Having had ourselves an awesome baby afternoon we eventually left the Den for drinks at Hide Dam.

The rest of our drive was to be a quiet one but after the afternoon we had had it did not matter.

I'll be leaving you in the capable hands of Chad and Andrea for the next two weeks or so as I catch up on admin and then head on a weeks leave. It's been good fun bringing you all the stories and I hope that they have as much luck as we have the past couple of weeks! Ciao4now.


  1. Grant what fantastic sighting - sad that I live so many thousands of miles away. Reading the blog of each of you makes me feel like landing up right now. September, when we plan on visiting does not seem to come fast enough

  2. Fantastic photographs, nature is beautiful and unusual. I am greeting