Wednesday, 15 August 2012

14th August: Sometimes You Win. Sometimes You Lose.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold, Shadrack, Andrea, Marka & Johannes.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Wedge River Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Bush Braai rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Mfene Crossing.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Motswari – Sean's Clearing.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Enkhombi Pan.
Rhino ( Male)
Rhino ( 1 x Male, 2 x Females & Sub Adult)
Lion ( Mafikizolo Pride) / Karans – Karans Trough.

Afternoon Drive.

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

Elephant ( Kambaku) / DeLuca – DeLuca Trough.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Ekuvukeni.
Lion ( 5 x Mafikizolo Pride) / Karans – Karans Trough.
Leopard ( Umfana Male) / Vielmieter – Albert/ Vielmieter Cutline.
Leopard ( Rockfig Jnr Female) / Java – Albert/ Vielmieter Cutline.
Leopard ( Male) / Ntsiri – Argyle Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Enkhombi Pan Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Argyle – Crossing Below Argyle Dam.
Rhino ( Male)

Daily Synopsis.

It was a do or die drive for Lions as a fair amount of guests would be checking out after morning drive. Once again strategising at morning coffee we set off in search of our elusive friends. Andrea checked to the North of camp while Johannes and Shadrack set off to the East, Herold and Marka checked the central section leaving the far North East corner for me, guess I drew the short straw but being desperate we needed to cover all our areas. The first forty five minutes was freezing cold and we saw absolutely no sign of other life in our section while the others seemed to pick up on herds of Elephant all over the place, least they new something other than themselves were out there. It wasn't until we started to drive South on our Eastern boundary that we picked up on first a single set of male Lion tracks heading South, these were soon joined by a second set heading in the same direction. With the road in front of me being disturbed I stopped the vehicle to hope off and check things out. Not having my trusty Jacky with me this was going to be a challenge but on closer inspection it was written all over the road what occurred. The Lions had been stalking a Buffalo Bull and caught him in the road were a scuffle ensued with another Lion joining in as well as a few other Buffalo Bulls. The tussle then moved off the road to the West where they again fought this time the Lions biting off the tail of the Buffalo leaving it there for me to find. The other Buffalo again came to the aid of their college and they all set off to the West with the Lions in pursuit. This was very fortunate as if they had headed to the East they would have crossed outside of our traversing. Having ascertained the direction I called for help on the radio, to which both Shadrack and Johannes answered. While waiting their arrival I could hear a Hyena calling to the North East of us which was a little disturbing as it seemed to be calling from the same location and could possibly indicate that the Lions had in fact crossed back to the East. With both Shadrack and Johannes arriving we set off tracking with Tiyani and Goodman. The going was easy as we were following a group of Buffalo running with the Lions following behind thus leaving a huge trail, the occasional blood splatter would also give away the direction. Being a fairly thick Mopane region we were cautious as it would be pretty dangerous to walk onto a group of hunted Buffalo Bulls not to even mention the injured one. Funny thing was, that at morning coffee Shaddy was telling me how a tracker had been tossed into a tree by a Buffalo and it's horns. Lucky for the tracker he had landed in the tree a couple of metres up and he was able to cling on for dear life while the Buffalo ran riot below. Comforting thought to be having, glad I decided not to try track alone. It was reassuring as we headed further and further to the West and it looked like we would soon be sitting with our three Lions, that we now thought were definitely the Sohobele Males, feeding on a Buffalo but no sooner had this thought popped into all our minds did the tracks do an about turn and head back straight for the cutline. Lions still in hot pursuit of the injured Buffalo. We found a couple of places where a scuffle had occurred but then they would all set about running again. We followed the tracks the one kilometre to the East they had walked all the way back to the West finally crossing out of our traversing area. To say we were a little disappointed would be a slight understatement and we could not believe our bad luck. I guess the Hyena had tried to tell us and the Lions are more than likely feeding just across the boundary to the East. With no water in the area they must cross to the West to drink at a nearby trough so there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel that we might see our old friends the Sohobele's in the next couple of days.

Choosing to head to a nearby dam we decided to stop for morning coffee and formulate a new plan. Resuming after coffee we received great news that the sighting of the Mafikizolo Pride that wee had found the previous day with a Buffalo kill was opened and that we were able to head to the area to check if we could get a glimpse of these very shy Lions. Hearing Johannes was in the immediate area I asked him to keep me posted while I slowly made my way in his direction. It appeared our luck had changed as along the way we found ourselves a large Rhino Bull. Being a little shy of the vehicle we decided to go onto foot and see if we could get a better view but with the wind never being in our favour he kept moving off at our approach so we called it quiets and continued towards the Lions. 

We again came onto tracks for a crash of Rhino and we found fresh dung that indicated that they had been there very recently, so recent in fact that looking a little deeper in the bush we saw all four of them standing there looking at us as if to say we are over here! Immediately stopping not wanting to spook them the wind on this occasion was in our favour and they stood their ground investigating the disturbance. Being out in the open provided us with a great sighting and after we had got our shots we continued on our quest.

Johannes had contacted me to let me know that the sighting was not that great as they were all hid in the bush and all one could see was ears and tails. I was now in two minds whether to respond or leave it till late afternoon but passing the area we saw a couple of Vultures flying overhead and I thought this might draw a couple of them out. So we took the chance and headed in on arriving we found that in fact the Vultures had done the trick and a large male Lion had come out and sat himself next to the kill. This being in the open we got a great site of him as he sat there fat bellied keeping a very watchful eye on the ever growing amount of Vultures. He would occasionally chase them when they got to near but tiring of this quickly and it getting warmer he resorted to trying to pull the carcass from the trough. No doubt he wants to drag it into the surrounding bush to avoid any further attention being drawn to it, also it was getting rather warm sitting out there in the open. Having had a great sighting we headed off back to Motswari. It's funny how the bush works as we had lost out earlier but it had redeemed itself in great fashion a little later on.

Checking on the nearby water trough where the lions had chased the injured Buffalo before crossing out our traversing boundary at the start of afternoon drive we found a Elephant Bull and not the hot and thirsty three Lions we were hoping for, I had figured that should they have made the kill this would be there closest water, I'll keep an eye on it over the next couple days. With the guys having found a Leopard with an Impala kill in in the South in the morning that we did not get the chance to visit we decided to head straight in its direction.

The trip South was very uneventful and it accelerated our arrival at the Leopard. Getting into the sighting instead of finding the female Leopard that they spoke of in the morning we found the young male Umfana up in a Marula Tree feeding on the carcass. From the amount he had eaten and looking at his belly things did not quite match up and my guess was that he had in fact stolen the kill during the day. It was not long before this theory was proved when while Johannes was making his way into the sighting he found Rockfig Jnr Female sitting on the opposite side of the road full bellied. She did not seem that perturbed and sat in the shade sleeping and not paying much attention to Umfana as he went about trying to get a grip on the kill to feed. After a while we swapped with Johannes and spent time with a sleepy Rockfig Jnr. I wonder if he stole it while she returned to fetch her cub and if so where was her cub now? 

After yet another great Leopard sighting we decided to head on our way and visit the Hyena Den as we were in the area and heard that it was active. Arriving at the den we found one adult female feeding “ Medium”, the two older ones playing around and then one very young one popping its head out the den entrance looking a little weary of coming further out. It was not long before the older cubs approached the vehicle to inspect it but where they had played around it the previous day they now checked it out and then returned to their game outside the den. 

With the sun setting we headed off for drinks before making our way back North. On our way home we heard that all the Lions were now out and feeding so having only seen the male in the morning we popped into the sighting so that my guests could see the females. We arrived to the same big male dominating feeding while the others lay around the carcass patiently waiting their turn. Every time they approached closer the male would give out a deep guttural growl which would have them all settle back into their positions and resume the wait. In the time that we spent there he was the only one to feed while the others crept closer and closer trying to reserve a prime position for when he had his fill and moved off.

Seeing what we wanted and much more we took our leave and headed back to the lodge after yet another intriguing day in the bush.

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