|Pic Of The Day.|
( Grant, Herold, Shadrack & Andrea.)
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / DeLuca – Drongo Drive.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / DeLuca – Nyati Dam.
Leopard ( Mbali Female) / Argyle – Buffalo Pan Access.
Rhino ( 2 x Unknown)
( Grant, Herold, Shadrack & Andrea.)
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Hangar Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Lower river Rd.
Lion ( Machaton Female & 2 x Cubs) / Vielmieter – Elephant Dam.
Leopard ( Shindzuti Male) / Mbali – Aardvark Rd.
Well hello there Ladies and Gentleman, it's me Grant here, bet you all thought I'd died it has been that long since a blog post from me. Chad and Andrea have being doing such a super job that I've been practically made redundant only through shear fortune, with Chad on leave and Andrea experiencing technical problems with her camera, has this old scavenger got his nose in to bring you the news for at least a couple of days.
So................................................................ what can I say there have been some very interesting developments over the past couple weeks and you have to love how the bush is constantly changing and opening up a window for us to peer through and experience it's complex dynamics. The next couple of weeks promise to be very exciting so be sure to keep an eye on the blog for regular updates.
So getting right into it. All of us at the lodge are currently driving one large English School group that visits us every second year for a bit of a holiday, come educational, come charity work, all rolled into one. From past years they have always been great fun to drive and this year is no exception with the enthusiasm and jovial nature at an all time high. Formulating a plan at morning coffee we had decided to stick to the North Western sector of our traversing looking for pretty much anything and everything as it is still early days of their visit. With the gang having Sohobele and Argyle Dam covered Patrick and I decided to head to the North East and check an area that is not normally that productive but does on occasion spring us a few surprises. With it being very cold out the animals were a little reluctant in showing themselves and the radio was very quite for sightings across the reserve. While a large majority of the stations were in the central section following up on tracks and audio for Lions we stuck to the North and it quickly paid off when we located on two very large breeding herds of Elephant that had come together. The bush was literally teeming with Elephant and you could not look in any direction and not see one of these magnificent creatures as we were absorbed into the very relaxed herd becoming part of their mornings activity. Aside from the Elephant being my favourite animal, as a guide I love the reaction of my guests just as much when they first come into contact with these creatures. At first a total silence descends and when you look around all you see is wide open eyes and dropped jaws. This is followed by the realisation that they are actually sitting mere metres from a true, real, wild African Elephant and at that moment with a confused look on their face on how exactly they feel about the whole situation you can see the majority of them lose their hearts to these unbelievable creatures. Naturally this is speeded up the smaller the Elephant is! Having all lost our hearts to different herd members we made space for the others to experience what we had just been through.
Sticking to the North we continued along our boundary to the West once again looking at anything that came our way. It was to be a quite period through mid morning but we were able to pick up on some of the smaller things and tick off a good few birds.
A very pleasant surprise did wait in store for us shortly before closing for morning coffee in the form of Mbali female Leopard. With all of us in the immediate area we responded and all had a great sighting of arguably our most recognised and famous Leopard and so she should be at the grand old age of fifteen. Having spent time with my favourite animal and then getting to spend time with my favourite Leopard we could not ask for anything more from the morning, actually the day, so we headed back to camp for brunch picking up on Giraffe and Zebra before closing down.
Whatever we see this afternoon is a bonus in my books but lets wait and see what happens
Afternoon drive started under far warmer conditions and the sightings came in thick and fast from the get go. Our intentions for the afternoon was to head down and visit the Hyena Den and then spend a little time in the South see if we could get lucky with the Lions from the morning or find ourselves a Rhino or two. Hearing that a herd of Elephant had been found very close to our airstrip I could not resist the temptation and headed off in their direction to get our afternoon started off in the right direction
The rest of the gang headed South and it was not long before they found Rhino tracks for our crash of five, so dropping the trackers the guys and gal continued on their way to the Hyena Den. We got temporally delayed when we popped past Argyle Dam and stopped for the large Crocodile and the many Hippo, the Kudu and Waterbuck also could have added to the delay. Realising time was of the essence we picked up the pace and headed South.
Our long trip was rewarded when we found three adult females at the den with all five youngsters, unfortunately the two youngest were tucked away in the entrance to the den and you could only get a glimpse of what was thought to be an ear as they repositioned themselves to feed. It appeared we had arrived at feeding hour as all the other youngsters were busy suckling from their respective moms. Shortly before leaving one of the pups finished up and put on a little bit of a show but this was short lived as it became sleepy after its obvious large meal
With the trackers not yet having found the crash of Rhinos and us being this far South we took the opportunity to head to the Machaton Lioness and her two cubs. Having been in the extreme North a couple of days previously she had made the journey South to relocate on the one missing cub that was wondering their territory in the South alone. In the morning the guys had found them but instead of one cub she was now with two, one of which has a very bad injury to its one leg and paw. It would appear that the Machatons once again ran into other Lions and yet again a cub has paid the price. This pride now has many questions hanging about it. First and foremost, are they all ok and if so, where have they got to? It was a massive surprise to find them in our Northern most traversing corner and they were last seen heading even further North as pressure from the two new large males to the area has got them on the run for their survival. It as not helped that the Mafikizolo Pride have now once again popped up after a couple of months absence and it is not known exactly what part they have played in this drama and what they still have to play. All we do know is that our Lions are presently like ghosts, one moment they are here and the next they disappear without a trace. We will have to wait and see what unfolds in the next couple of months.
While sitting with mom and her two youngsters we received news from the trackers that they had located on a crash of five Rhinos but with the sun setting and us now having committed to the Lions we found ourselves a long way away and unfortunately had to forgo the visit. It does however give us a starting point in the morning as the crash included our mother and calf so their overnight movement should not be that far, but we will have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.