Wednesday, 17 October 2012

16th October: Typical!

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Chad, Herold & Shadrack.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Xikhari Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Peru - Peru Entrance.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Shadrack.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Kevins Camp.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Motswari Dam.
Leopard ( Mbali Female) / Argyle – Vyeboom Dam.

Daily Synopsis.

Well hello there! It's me Grant back in the drivers seat and bringing you the blog for the next week or so as Chad heads off on his weeks leave. First and foremost I would like to thank you Chad for a great month with all your help and long hours. Your blog is invaluable and I promise to try not chase to many of your followers off during your break, enjoy and rest lekker mate!

So back to the business at hand, both myself and Chad set off early this morning as we both had early check outs. Top of order for the two of us was Leopard and while I stuck to the North following up on our night watchmann, John's, lead that he had heard a Leopard calling to the North of camp before sunrise, Chad took a chance and headed far South hoping to get lucky with either Argyle Male or Rockfig Jnr and her cub. Truth be told I fancied Chad's chances more but I think we both secretly hoped that we would be the one to find it as that would have the other scrambling from the other side of the planet. Checking to the North East of camp it was not long before we picked up on tracks for a young male Leopard, this must have been who John had heard, unfortunately the nature of this Leopard and the direction he was heading in it would not be worth our while following up and while we still had time on our side we decided to head back to the North West to pursue other leads. 

While zig-zagging the areas around Argyle and Sohobele Dam we received a message from Herold informing us that he had found a nice breeding herd of Elephant not far from our location. Being a favourite of mine and always a privilege to spend time with we headed in their direction. The herd was the same one that has been spending the last couple of days in the Northern regions and we could make our way in amongst them easily as they were totally chilled with the vehicles and completely ignored us, well almost, there were a couple of youngsters that fancied their chances against the big green machine. Not responding to their challenge they soon returned to challenging their siblings. 

While sitting with them we received news that tracks for a young male Leopard had been found a little to our West, hmm........................ maybe Makipi's or his brother Shindzuti, definitely worth joining in on the search. Meanwhile Chad was having himself a busy morning in the South, unfortunately with all the wrong spots and stripes as he found himself nice herds of Giraffe and Zebra but no sign of Leopard. While following up the young male Leopard tracks we stumbled across an old females tracks that must have been for Mbali. She had killed herself a Genet in the riverbed where she had eaten it in amongst the rocks. Her tracks left us a little confused as she was up and down the riverbed there after, maybe she was disturbed by the male. Leaving Patrick to follow up on foot I drove the surrounding roads but being a notoriously difficult area to track and ideal Leopard habitat it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. On two different occasions I had first the alarm calls of Guinea Fowl, rushing to the area I found them but nothing else or even an indication of what had disturbed them. Shortly thereafter I had the alarm calls of Tree Squirrels not far off from the Guinea fowl again I managed to locate the Squirrels but nothing else. Using the general direction of both calls I checked all the roads along the path I though it must be walking but again our timing must have been out as we found nothing. With Chad closing down and our time being up we headed back to the lodge. I left Patrick out as both Shadrack and Herold had headed in to the area to give a hand, maybe they would succeed where we had not. At check out I found out from Patrick that they had not found the Leopard but it had in fact walked very close to where I had the Guinea Fowl alarm calling. Just goes to prove it is all about timing and a whole lot of luck. Lets hope we lucky this afternoon.

Afternoon drive got off to a rather hot and humid start with the mercury climbing to nearly 35C. With two of our guests still to arrive Jacky and I decided to jiga-jiga around camp in the hope that they would arrive soon and therefore not miss out on to much. We first intended to head to the site we had been tracking Mbali in from the morning hoping to catch her up in a Marula Tree in the area. This plan was soon put to rest when a neighbouring lodge informed us that he had found her as she walked passed his lodge earlier in the afternoon. So while Herold and Shadrack headed off in her direction we held back buying our guests a little time. Bumbling around Jacky and I decided to try relocate on the Elephant that we had in the morning heading to the North. It did not take us long to locate their tracks North of Motswari and from the dung and tell tale branches of their feeding they were not far away. Crossing the river to the East we found them having just visited a waterhole and were now all huddled under a Knobthorn Tree seeking shelter from the sun. We took shelter under a nearby tree as well and sat with them as they rested, some did choose to feed nearby but the majority took their afternoon siesta. Choosing to move on they crossed further to the North and into an area we could not follow them.

It was just as well as we received news that our guests had arrived so we slowly made our way towards Godfrey for a link up. With all aboard we could now respond to our spotted friend but first we chose to stop in with a group of Buffalo Bulls that were feeding alongside the dam in front of the lodge. Spending some time with these impressive specimens we eventually took our leave as time was now becoming of the essence. 

Nearing the sighting we could see that she had become mobile, in any other situation this would have been great timing but on this occasion and her location there was a good chance we could lose her as we now sat in the middle of the riverbed while she made her way to the Eastern bank. Lucky for us she had picked up an old piece of Buffalo hide she had found in a pool of water, clearly stashed there by Hyena trying to soften it before consumption, and this had her stop on reaching the vegetated riverbank to try eat it. At first she moved off into the thick bushes but on not being able to chew the hide she gave up and moved back out into the open next to the vehicle. We thought she would now put on a show grooming herself but I think the heat took over and she chose to fall fast asleep. Had she not moved on a few occasions the vehicle who joined us in the sighting could have easily believed that we'd knocked her over. 

Note the teeth, or the lack thereof.

With the sun fast approaching the horizon and very little movement from Mbali we took our leave and headed for sundowners. Shortly before stopping though we found ourselves a very accommodating herd of Giraffe and spent the last afternoons light with them.

Resuming after drinks we had a short drive back in the dark but it was still enough time for Jacky to work his magic and find us a Chameleon. I wonder what magic he will have for us tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Nice to hear from Grant again. Wonder how many cats will be spotted with Chad away on a few days leave. A few smiles coming up, I'm sure.