Thursday, 19 July 2012

18 July - Windswept

Photo of the Day
 Morning Drive
(Herold, Marka & Andrea)

Elephant (breeding herd) / Motswari - Xinatsi Dam Road North
Elefant (4 Kambaku) / Western Cutline (close to junction with White Syringa)
Rhino (Female and calf)

Afternoon Drive
(Herold, Grant & Andrea)

Rhino (female and calf)
Lion (6 x lions - Timbavati Pride - 2 lionesses and 4 cubs) / Buchner

Elephant (breeding herd) / Motswari - Camp Dam
Elephant (2 Kambaku) / Motswari - Marula Pan

Waking up to a very windy morning, we found a breeding herd of elephant on Xinatsi Dam Road North as they slowly fed. My guests had mentioned that they had  had a bad incident with  elephant before and I could read their apprehension. I switched off and the herd walked right passed the car, the one brushing past Petros. The herd was incredibly relaxed and once I was able to explain and interpret their behavior, my guests relaxed too and enjoyed the herd feeding in front of us.

Heading down Long Road we picked up fresh rhino tracks…we followed. For the next hour we chased these tracks up and down, and around again. They had us running in absolute circles, so when a female and calf were called in, I rushed off so that at least we could see the rhino after all. However, by the time we got there she had moved off!!! I was no running out of time, and we pushed it to as late as possible but with no luck. Just as well we had seen a lovely loose association of giraffe and herd of zebra, otherwise it would have been a very quiet drive. The most special part of morning drive was finding the melanistic form of a Gabar Goshawk - I was incredibly excited not having seen one of these before. There is always something new in the bush!

Still intent on find the rhino, the afternoon was spent heading straight  back to the area of the mother and her calf. With four vehicles scouring the area it was only a matter of time that one of the Simbavati guys picked up the pair. Phew! We spent some time with them, the youngster is so full of energy it is a delight to watch. They were slowly feeding in amongst mopane trees and eventually the little one lay down with the mother standing close behind her. The Fork-tailed Drongo's were having a buffet of a meal as they followed behind picking up all the insects disturbed by the rhino. By the time we left the sighting, the sun had just disappeared over the horizon and the chill set in. After a drinks stop and some hilarious stories from Petros about his scariest lion encounters, we headed back to camp. We had a brief visual of a pair of bushbabies which are always top 5 animals I love seeing on drive. A civet also wandered along the road and as we caught up with it, we were stared down for a few seconds before it bolted off into the grass. Hopefully we will get some leopard luck tomorrow!

We had such a lovely sighting of the Mahlatini lion pride yesterday that I decided to share a few pics. The day before the floods we saw them quite close to camp and the youngsters were only a few weeks old. Now, they have grown so much and I was so excited to see them having thought about them so much during the floods. But, they are alive and healthy and well.

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