Monday, 3 September 2012

1st September – Blown Away!

Photo of the Day
Nthombi's boy

Morning Drive

(Chad, Grant, Godfrey, Andrea and Shadrack)

4 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride on a buffalo kill) – Karans, Majavi Dam

1 x leopard (Nthombi’s boy) – Vielmetter, Sweetwater Southern Access

1 x rhino (relaxed male)

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Confluence Crossing

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Buffalo Kill Rd


Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Grant, Godfrey, Andrea and Shadrack)

4 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride on a buffalo kill) – Karans, Majavi Dam

1 x leopard (Nthombi’s boy) – Vielmetter, Sweetwater Southern Access

1 x rhino (relaxed male)

5 x rhinos (relaxed)

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Klipgat Crossing

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Tshabalala Rd

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

1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Northern Boundary Rd

3 x elephant bulls – Scholtz Big Dam

3 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Mfene Crossing


Daily Synopsis

This morning was the first day of spring, and possibly the last too!  With even hotter temperatures than yesterday, it felt like we had already been shot into the middle of summer!
Saddle-billed stork
The drives this morning were a bit on the quiet side, with Andrea and Shaddy trying their luck to track down fresh female leopard tracks without any joy; they did have themselves some nice elephant sightings though.  Grant went east and got his own roaring lions as the Mafikizolo pride at their kill roared in response to lions further north.
I was once more on a leopard mission and believed my best chances lay in the south, so I shot down Western Cutline hoping to get to the hyena den while it was still active, and man, was it active!
Four adults and all the cubs were out, and it was a super special sighting of them all – the middle cub was so curious and naughty this morning that he became my favourite of the lot based on today’s performance!  He was walking around sniffing my car, running underneath it, and annoying the other adults as they let their cubs suckle!

Wonderful activity at the hyena den
Eventually the little ones came out too, and when another adult arrive, the sights and sounds around the den were only broken by the flurry of snapping cameras!

Too cute for i took lots of pictures instead!!!
We pulled ourselves away and went to check for either Rockfig Jnr, Umfana or Nthombi leopards, but they were not showing us any signs.  Eventually we had one track of a male leopard moving towards Sweetwater Pan and went to check the area, enjoying some mongooses on the way.

Impala reflectiosn and dwarf mongooses
We found an alarm-calling squirrel, but as we saw no sign of any predator nearby, we laughed at him and carried on; not 30m further Fatima (one of my guests) spotted a leopard 7m from the road – it was lying in a clump of dry grass in a ditch, and how she spotted it is beyond me, but we were delighted, as it was Nthombi’s boy, and he was super-chilled today and we spent about half an hour with him as he eventually moved to the Nyosi Riverbed and chilled on the bank of the river before we made space for some other stations.  Sadly Andrea, Grant and Shaddy were all too far to respond, so only Godfrey got to see him with me.

Nthombi's boy being a perfect model...behind a branch, but still :)
The journey home was warm, and we saw many impalas and a small herd of elephants and a giraffe, but the temperature does seem to be taking its toll on the sightings.

Elephants and giraffes on the Nhlaralumi
The afternoon was once again very hot – 41 degrees in the shade hot – and it made sense to check the waterholes and the riverbeds...which makes me wonder why I drove to the west then?  I did check the dams in the north and west, and strangely didn’t find all that much activity around them, but the general game this afternoon was quite good as I bumbled all along the northern boundary – we ticked off an elephant bull, three nervous buffalo bulls, impala, kudus, waterbuck, warthogs, fighting giraffes, hippo with a load of free-loading terrapins in his back and zebras.

Elephant bull, giraffes fighing, warthog, zebra and hippo with terrapins
Grant had done the Nhlaralumi, and found himself three different herds of elephants before managing to relocate on Nhlangula male rhino making his way towards a nearby waterhole; as I wasn't all that far off, I headed to join him.  The sighting was looking like it would work in our favour, but strangely, a massive wind just blew in and sent the animals across the reserve into a bit of a “panic mode” – the elephant herds all ran for cover, the rhino forgot that he was meant to go and wallow in the mud for me, and the gusty wind just blew us away...literally!  I guess with temperatures that hot, something had to give!

Nhlangula male rhino - as surprised bout the wind as we were!
Not far off, Nthombi’s boy had been found in the same area, so I was heading there to join Grant, but he sadly disappeared literally as I pulled in, leaving us looking at sand being blown around...i half expected to see a young leopard go tumbling down the riverbed with the wind!
Shaddy had been in the east and had a great afternoon – the Mafikizolo’s had finished their buffalo and were relaxing at Majavi Dam, a crash of five rhinos were wallowing in another dam in the area, and a few elephant bulls were also found splashing about at a large waterhole in the east.
We headed back campward in the rather unpleasant conditions and didn’t see all that much, but that could have been because our eyes were full of dust! 
The hope is that these windy conditions provide excellent conditions for leopards to hunt, so with a bit of luck, we shall be finding a few leopard kills tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. The guys, gal & their guests by the wind, me with these picture. Goeie werk, Chad!