Thursday, 26 July 2012

24th & 25th July – Girl on Fire!!!

Photo of the Day

One of Andrea's many finds over the last few days - Makepisi male leopard watching a herd of elephants

24th July - Morning Drive

(Andrea, Herold and Shaddy)

3 x lions (Ximpoko males mating with Ross lioness) – Kings, Cole’s Drive

2 x leopard (Makepisi and Xindzuti males with Impala kill) – Peru, Tawny Eagle Rd

2 x leopards (Nthombi and cub) – Vielmetter, Nkhoro Rd

1 x leopard (Kuhayna female) – De Luca, Barne’s Post

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Woza-Woza Cutline

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Kings, Cole’s Drive

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, 2nd Sharalumi

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Western Cutline

1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Trade Entrance

24th July - Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Andrea, Peter and Shaddy)

1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Reception

1 x leopard (Xindzuti male) – Peru, Mbali Dam

1 x rhino (relaxed male)

2 x rhinos (semi-relaxed male and female)

1 x rhino (skittish male)

2 x buffalo – Peru, Concrete Crossing

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Long Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Woza-Woza Cutline

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Scholtz, Big Dam

1 x elephant bull – Karans, Majavi Dam

25th July - Morning Drive

(Chad, Andrea, Peter and Shaddy)

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Mangova Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Moeniejag Crossing

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Antheap Corner Rd

1 x buffalo bull – Mbali, Western Cutline

1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Camp Dam

24th July - Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Andrea, Peter and Marka)

3 x lions (Ximpoko males mating with Ross female) – Kings, Mafikizolo Rd

1 x leopard (Makepisi male) – Peru, Francolin Pan

1 x leopard (Xindzuti male) – Peru, Mbali Dam

2 x rhinos (semi-relaxed male and female)

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Francolin Pan

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Boolala Rd

2 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Sohebele River Rd West

Daily Synopsis

I am a bit embarrassed if some of you recognise that today’s blog title from the Hunger Games books...and yes, the fact that I know that means that I did read them...and no, I’m not proud of it!  Guess it goes with my tiara-wearing habits, but more aptly, it is a title that best describes Andrea’s run of luck the last couple of days, as just like Katniss Everdeen, she was the girl on fire.......and before you close this page for fear of more Hunger Games lines, you can be rest assured that I am trying my best to avoid any more discussion on the matter!

Starting with the morning I did not drive; it sounds like I missed out on a good drive – bother Xindzuti and Makepisi leopards were at their mom’s kill – great for the guests on morning drive, but not so for me, as this meant that the kill was finished before afternoon drive; just as Nthombi and her cub had finished their kill!  There was also the welcome return of Kuhanya leopardess to the north when Herold found her resting up a marula tree not far from camp.  The biggest news of the morning was the discovery of the two Ximpoko male lions mating with another lion rather than killing it!  The guys suspect the lion is from the Ross Pride, but I have no idea – either way, she was shacking up with the two males and that is encouraging news for their take-over of the area.

Afternoon arrived and saw me receiving some new guests from Reunion Islands – a first for me!  Taking it easy on the first drive, I was intent on relocating at least one of the leopards seen this it was a bit annoying that over the course of the afternoon, all the leopards were relocated and I saw exactly none of them!

The drive started off with some nice kudus and waterbucks before moving towards an elephant sighting along the Sohebele River west of Camp that Andrea found; was great as always to sit amongst such a relaxed herd.

Elephant herd with an accompanying fork-tailed drongo

Leaving them, we passed Argyle Dam and went to check the area for Makepisi male, but found no sign – sadly I wasn't with Petros, so it was a bit more difficult to pick up tracks, but I persisted.  Andrea was in the area and asked where I was going; I mentioned my route, and she commented that it had been her intention to go the same way; but because I’m such a gentleman, I let the lady go first; it was a great mistake to make!   After another small herd of elephants, Andrea called to tell me that she had a leopard in the crossing I had intended to use; sadly, as I arrived Xindzuti disappeared and I decided to go for a drink and check back after dark.

Guineaowl and elephant herd

Then, a rhino was radioed in about 15 minutes from us, so I decided to head in that direction as the light faded...Murphy’s Law, as I needed to go somewhere, all the animals came out!  Herd after herd of waterbuck appeared, kudus, a herd of giraffe, buffalo bulls, and even a black-backed jackal!  As if to rub salt in the wound, Andrea then radioed to tell me that she had found two rhinos of her own!  I was already on my way to the other rhino, with the light fading fast, we didn’t spend much time with all the animals we saw, but arrived to a lovely sighting of a new and reasonably relaxed male rhino in our area!

Kudu, giraffe and relaxed male rhino

After a drink the growing darkness with a hippo, we went towards Mbali Dam again, and had no sooner turned in that direction when Andrea radioed saying that she had relocated the leopard sleeping in the riverbed – unfortunately, for the second time this drive, as I was arriving, the leopard was lost; I should have stayed in camp, as Kuhanya was found sleeping at reception and Shadrack (after a good drive in the east) managed to relocate her on the dam wall – the only spots I saw were on a genet eating a natal spurfowl on the way home.
Genet with a spurfowl kill

The next morning was a bit quiet, with only Andrea calling in any sightings in the north!  She found a couple herds of elephant and a buffalo bull, as well as some fair general game – my drive was notably quieter, but still enjoyable.  The east produced nothing but impala and some kudu, and even the hyena den was not active, with only the adults out.

Hyena and impalas

A rhino and calf had been found in the area, but had been left unattended before I got there; despite checking the area, I found almost nothing!  That being said, we did see some smaller things, and tracks of lions and leopards, but not much else – the best was a family of dwarf mongooses as well as a pair of slender mongooses high up in a leadwood tree, presumably looking to raid a nest of sorts!

Steenbuck drinking, brown hooded kingfisher, dwarf mongooses and mopane colours!

After coffee, we had some nice baboons and another jackal, whilst heading back to camp produced a short sighting of a herd of elephants next to the road, as well as a lone male giraffe...guess I should have followed the girl on fire!

Black-backed jackal, elephant and giraffe

That afternoon, Andrea joked about stealing my route again, but thankfully chose to drive her own route...not because that meant that I would find animals, but rather because it seemed that no matter where Andrea drove, she found things!  Besides starting with two elephants, she soon radioed to say that she had a leopard stalking a herd of elephants!!!

I had been enjoying some waterbucks, kudus and impalas, and was not more far from Andrea, so I went to join her, and arrived to find Makepisi male stalking off into the middle of a large breeding herd of elephants!

impala and waterbuck

Some of the elephants saw him and gave him a bit of a chase as he ambled around amongst them...then the big daddy elephant arrived!  Scarily (is that even a word???), this bull was more interested in us than the leopard!  He was no small elephant, and clearly in musthe; with testosterone flowing, he came at us with attitude, but with us remaining unmoved, he took his anger out on a large dead tree stump and smashed it to the ground as part of his display!  It was intimidating, but luckily for us, a second vehicle joined the leopard sighting, and this drew the males attention and the elephant went running straight at the new arrivals, leaving us and Makepisi in peace for a while.

(courtesy of The Girl on Fire)

Makepisi male amongst some elephants

Having sent his message one way, the elephant returned to the leopard and our vehicle, and Makepisi wisely moved on; we did too, but not before watching the male elephant smash down one more tree as he once more went charging after the other vehicle!

We calmed things down with some time with an elephant herd a bit to the north, but carried on to the south where the mating lions were waiting for us.

The route along the Nhlaralumi was a good one; it started with a short sighting of Xindzuti male leopard on Mbali Dam wall, but when he moved off, we left the area.  We also had some nice giraffe and a load of impalas.

Xindzuti male on Mbali Dam and another African Sunset!

After drinks, things were a bit quiet, but it was fine, we had some mating lions waiting for us; sadly, their honeymoon appeared to be near the end, and they were not in a mood to do much, but luckily mated one whilst we were watching – so after years of not seeing this, we have witnessed both mating lions and leopards in just over a week!

Ximpoko male mating with lioness

Heading home satisfied with our adventure, we saw a few hyenas, but generally it was a bit quiet – still, not a bad way to spend the day!

1 comment:

  1. Little competition is good, Chad. The crown stay yours, however. Andrea, you go girl.