Saturday, 25 August 2012

24th August: So Much To See, So Little Time.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Chad, Herold and Pete.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Vielmieter Access.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Kings – Double Highway.
Leopard ( Rockfig Jnr Female) / Vielmieter – Entrance Dam.
Leopard ( Rockfig Jnr's Cub) / Vielmieter – Entrance Dam.
Lion ( 2 x Unknown Males) / Peru – Wild West.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Chad and Herold.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Motswari Northern Access.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Java – Steep Machaton.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Argyle – Flooded Crossing.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Motswari Camp.
Lion ( Mafikizolo Pride) / Peru – Klipgat Crossing.
Lion ( Unknown Males) / Peru – Wild West.
Leopard ( Rockfig Jnr Female) / Vielmieter – Blue Waxbill.
Rhino ( Male)

Daily Synopsis.

Our mornings objective was to visit the Hyena Den early and see if we could catch the family out we then wanted to follow up on the female Rhino and her Calf in the West that had been found the previous evening. So although we had Lions contact calling the whole night just North of the camp and a report that a Leopard was also heard calling on our Ingwelala boundary we chose to stick to the plan and head straight South. Getting an earlier start than most we set off into the thick mornings mist wondering if this weather would be conducive for Hyena pups. While we headed South the rest of the gang followed up North of camp looking to see if they could get lucky with Lion or Leopard. There were also stations in the West following up on other Lions that had been roaring through the night and there were tracks all over the place that they were trying to make heads and tails of. Our trip South was a lot less interesting and we saw very little else than a couple of Giraffe. None the less the drive through the mystical mist was enough to keep us captivated especially when the sun began to break through and light up the ridges in a golden light. 

With the mist still settled in the valleys we did not hold out much hope for the Hyena Den as it lay half way up one of these said ridges but arriving we were pleasantly surprised to find three adults, the two older cubs and “ Medium” out and about. No surprises that “ Medium” was feeding but the other two were in a very playful mood and immediately approached the vehicle to investigate how they could include the big green machine in their play. Their enthusiasm encouraged one of the adults to also become involved and they all went about the vehicle sniffing and smelling. They eventually settled at the back of the vehicle where the game drive drinks and snack box was kept but this had not drawn there attention or had them captivated as one would have thought it was rather the elasticated “ bungie” cord that kept the box in place that had them all excited as they pulled at it, stretching it to it's full before letting it go and having it shoot back towards the car. The adult soon tired of the game but it kept the younger two enthralled and in turn us. We sat there a good forty five minutes while the morning unfolded around us. The Lions in the West were located and it appeared that it was two prides, the Mafikizolo Pride and then two young males who no one seemed to know who they were. True to form the Mafikizolo Lions kept moving and trying to hide but the two newcomers seemed very relaxed and offered a great sighting by the sounds of things. No signs for the Lions or Leopard in the North and Herold and Chad figured they must have been calling from Ingwelala across our border. Still wanting to try relocate on the Rhino and maybe squeeze in a visit to the newcomer Lions we said our goodbyes to the Hyena's. 

With the temperature rapidly rising the animals seemed to pop out everywhere and we found ourselves a beautiful herd of Elephant South of Entrance Dam, this sighting only got better when another herd approached across the plains from the South. We sat as they communicated between one another listening to their deep rumbles. Whilst with them we could hear Impala alarm calling to the South so we decided to leave them and check up on what had got them so excited.

While heading in the direction of the last calls we now heard the Elephant trumpeting but did not pay much attention to it as we thought it was because of the two herds coming together but this was not the case as a station that was on its way to the Elephant picked up on Rockfig Jnr Female. Promptly turning around we joined them as she slowly made her way to Entrance Dam for a drink. We sat with her as she quenched her thirst and then proceeded to walk over the dam wall into the Machaton Riverbed. This is where things became very tricky as it is extremely thickly vegetated and with her now on the hunt it was difficult to follow her. We did however manage to keep up with her until the next stations arrived to take over but the sighting was never stable and she was eventually lost before everyone got a chance to see her. On our way out of the sighting we once again passed Entrance Dam and on this occasion we found another Leopard drinking from the dam. It was Rockfig Jnr's male cub, he was a little shyer and crouched down on the waters edge but when another vehicle tried approaching I think it was a bit much for him especially with the water on his back so he dashed out and scampered away never to be seen again.

Running out of time and hearing that a large male Rhino with a female and her calf had been found in the far South we decided to forgo the rhino visit and rather visit the Lions on our way home. Arriving at this sighting late we were able to drive right in and found two males that looked very much like Sohobele Males at first, they were of the same size and age, they were also extremely relaxed with the vehicles. Their manes appeared far lighter though and one Lion also appeared to be that little much bigger and this has now got me doubting whether it is them or not. Chatting with the other guides they don't reckon it is them and they have not seen these males before, I still have my doubts, someone definitely has seen these Lions as they would never be that relaxed. With the sun now high in the sky cooking us it was time to head back to the lodge and thus bring to an end a great morning. Lets hope this afternoon is as good for our new guests.

It was to be one of those jam packed afternoons that you could not possibly fit everything into and it started immediately from leaving camp with us finding a herd of Elephant on our doorstep. Chad and myself spent a fair amount of time with them before I headed off to the West and Chad to the South hoping to get lucky at the Hyena Den as well as try find Rockfig Jnr which he had missed out on in the morning. 

Planning to head in the direction of the Lions we went via Argyle Dam and Phiva Plains which held us up considerably as we found a multitude of animals that included more Elephant, Giraffe, Waterbuck, Hippo, Kudu, Steenbok and Frankie the Wildebeest. We were not complaining as this kept us busy during the heat of the afternoon and with things cooling off by the time we had got done spending time with all of them we had hoped that the Lions had roused themselves from their slumber which they had been reported to be doing earlier on. 

Heading in their direction a call came over the radio that Rockfig Jnr had once again been located and on this occasion she was hunting a Steenbok that was asleep in a clearing. Chad being in the ideal spot responded quickly and joined the sighting where he would spend the rest of his afternoon with his photographic clients as she painstakingly missed out on killing it by mere centimetres. A wonderful spectacle to observe not to mention to have as your photographic subject. Pity Chad left his camera's behind but I'm sure you all will hear about that. Continuing on to the Lion we found our two new male visitors fast asleep by the side of the road. They had both found themselves a hollow dug out by Elephant and lay belly up as if they were sun tanning on the beach. It is incredible how relaxed these two were as they did not even acknowledge our arrival and the whole time we sat with them they did not even stir a muscle. Thinking the longer we sat and the darker and cooler it became we would see some action but this was not to be and we eventually left them out for the count.  

With the Rockfig sighting still on the go we decided we would take a chance and see if we could get across the reserve before she disappeared. Being a considerable distance and loosing light fast we had to move but as I said at the beginning there appeared to be animals everywhere and we had to turn a blind eye to a large herd of Buffalo that was busy drinking at pan that we passed. As we drove the sighting was on and off as she walked in and out of the No-name River. The guys did a great job in keeping her for us and we joined the sighting in the days last glimmer of light. It was not a particularly good sighting but she did walk past the vehicle on two or three occasions but this was very brief as she made her way up the very rocky and thickly vegetated riverbed. She eventually lay down in the riverbed itself and we could observe her from the bank but once she became mobile again it was not long before we lost her completely. Not to sure if my guests enjoyed the sighting of the Leopard or the adventure of getting out of the area more with us having to navigate a wall of vegetation that only gave way to drainage lines and large boulders in the dark. Finally finding our way out and feeling like we had actually been dragged through a bush backwards we decided to head home after a very eventful afternoon. The action was not to end there though as on arrival we found a herd of Elephant and a group of Buffalo Bull in the middle of camp. They were to be joined later by a female Leopard who appeared on the scene once everyone had gone to bed and things had settled down. 

1 comment:

  1. Worth the wait, Grant. Missed the drives with you guys over the weekend. Thank you!