Thursday, 23 August 2012

22nd August: All The Wrong Decisions.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Chad & Marka.)

Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Motswari – Reception Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Makulu Rd.
Rhino ( Male)
Leopard ( Ntombi & Cub) / Vielmieter – Lower River Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd North.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Marula Pan.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Xinatsi dam Rd.
Lion ( Timbavati Pride: 2 x Females, Sub Adult & 3 x Cubs.) / DeLuca – DeLuca Cutline.
Lion ( Jacaranda Pride: 2 x Sub Adults)

Daily Synopsis.

Well hello there, I'm back for a brief spell, guess you could call it a filler until Chad returns to drive on Friday. So yip you stuck with me, Grant for the next couple days. Having guests for only a drive and a half we were a little under pressure to try and show them as much as possible in a very short amount of time. Lucky for us we had a great drive yesterday afternoon where we laid down a good foundation and covered not only three of the “ Big Five” but also a great deal of birds and smaller mammals. Our mornings mission was to find Elephant and Leopard and fast. It appeared luck was to be on our side again as we found two impressive Bull Elephants literally two hundred and fifty metres from reception. They must have been the two that had spent the entire night in camp feeding in amongst the chalets. 

With one ticked off quickly and time still on our side we fancied our chances and thought it best to head South hoping that one of our many Southern Leopards would be picked up. We could also incorporate a visit to the Hyena Den and see how far we could actually push our luck as it is normally better to visit in the afternoon. Our trip South was fairly quit but this suited us and we got ourselves into position quickly. Along the way it also sounded like we had made the right decision as tracks had been found for Leopard in the South West corner that were being followed up on. Popping by the Den we found it to be empty, well technically not empty, as I'm sure they were inside but there was no visual of them outside and I could not rally a volunteer to crawl down and check. With a number of stations checking for the Leopard on the Western side we chose to stick to the East and see what else we could find but keeping within distance of a quick response should they pick it up. Our bumble around yielded a variety of general game and we would have been quite satisfied had we not been after something specific that now appeared to be evading us and winding down the clock. 

Checking all the favoured spots in the East we came up with nothing, not even a track to try and follow up on. In the West they seemed to be making progress but being in a very tricky area it was happening slowly, not looking good for us and as the clock wound down we eventually had to start heading North to link up. It would be Murphy's Law that once we were back North they located on Ntombi and her cub, although we could not get to enjoy it Chad and Marka found themselves well placed and got a great sighting of the two of them as they slowly headed South towards a suspected kill. Lets hope this is the case as there may be the chance that we can get to see them on afternoon drive.

Afternoon drive started off under very warm conditions and at this rate it looks like we have totally skipped Spring and headed into full blown Summer with the thermometer reaching around 36C. We were not the only one's feeling the heat as the first animals we found from camp were crowded around the small pan at the back of the lodge. A small herd of Elephant and Dagha Boys seemed to be at a face-off around the water both a little unsure of one another. This was great for us as we got to sit with both in one sighting.

It was only after this sighting that an afternoon of wrong choices lay ahead of us. In desperate need of a cat with spots we once again headed to the South fancying our chances there we, or should I say, I, also fancied our chances at the Hyena Den figuring that surely at this temp the guys would choose to be resting outside the hole in the shade. We were so sure on our decision that we ignored Johannes when he called in that he had tracks for two Lionesses and cubs in the North and that he would be following up. We also forwent the decision to visit the two large male Lions who had also been found again very near to the spot they had been in the day before. Detouring slightly to incorporate a couple of waterholes on our way South we made our way hastily towards the Hyena Den. On arriving in the area a vehicle just pipped us to the actual den and reported that there was no activity, hmm.......................... this was not good., as the last thing we had seen was the Elephant and Buffalo on leaving camp. With Ntombi not being relocated yet and us fining no signs of any other Leopard to follow up on we decided to head towards Makulu Crossing where a very large herd of Elephant was found drinking below the dam wall. Somewhere in the middle no-mans land I received a call from Johannes giving me the awful news that he had located the Lions on the opposite side of the reserve. We were now stuck between the Elephant the Lions and Ntombi who had also just been found with her cub on a kill. With Ntombi drawing a lot of attention and no way that we would get into the sighting and having seen nice Elephant we chose to head a very long way back North to visit a pride that we had not seen in forever. The trip back felt like it took a lifetime which it nearly did we were that far away and getting into the actual sighting itself nearly took as long as the Lions had berried themselves in some of the thickest vegetation imaginable. I don't know how Johannes ever found them and what was even more of a wonder was that he actually found his way out! Getting ourselves into a position we could clearly see two Timbavati Females and their four cubs and although it was not a great photographic opportunity with the sun having set we did have a very nice sighting as they roused themselves from slumber and went about their social grooming. As it became dark we decided it best we make our way out or face a night lost in the bush. 

Not having had sundowners yet I asked my guests whether they would like to stop or continue to look for Leopard, they all simultaneous answered the latter. So we continued to check around Argyle Dam and the Sohobele River but instead of finding our spotted friend we found ourselves another two Lionesses, this time the two Jacaranda sub adults. Amasing how nature works, as a couple weeks ago we could not find a Lion for love of money but there were Leopard all over the place, it appears the tables have turned. We sat and watched as they half attempted to set an ambush for Impala but with the alarm calls being sounded they realised their cover was up and they promptly lay down in a clearing to rest. With time being up we headed back to the lodge with the pressure now being on tomorrow mornings drive. 

1 comment:

  1. The good fortune had to turn at some stage but nice to hear from you, Grant. Better cat luck for the next drive!