Friday, 19 October 2012

18th October: Timbavati On Strike.

Pic Of The Day.
 Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Shadrack.)

Leopard ( Argyle Male) / Karans – Old Closed Rd.
Leopard ( Argyle Jnr's Male Cub) / Argyle – Ingwelala Crossing.
Rhino ( 2 x Sub Adults)
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Sohobele Plains.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Shadrack.)

Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Peru – Timbavati / Umbabat Cutline.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Long Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Old Mphisi Kaya Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Scholtz – Scholtz/ Karans Cutline.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Scholtz – Kudu Pan Rd South.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Borneo – Jonas Loop.
Rhino ( 1 x Male & 2 x Female)
Leopard ( Argyle Jnr's Male Cub) / Argyle – Ingwelala Crossing.

Daily Synopsis.

With the rest of the country on strike it looks like our Unions may have connections in the animal world as well. The past few days struggles had both myself and Herold needing to find Lion and Rhino on our guests last game drive. Having checked the entire reserve over the past two days we did not quite know where to begin looking. Starting under partly clouded skies but no real threat of rain things were already looking up and with all the old tracks having been washed away today was a fresh start. We originally set off to the South West fancying our chances with Rhino and should Lion tracks pop up along the way that would be a bonus. Herold had two new guests so he was going to go via Argyle Jnr and her Impala kill while checking the North West. Shaddy was heading straight South to follow up on the Buffalo we had failed on the day before, I think he was also hoping that there would be some sign of a Lion or two following them. No sooner had he left camp than he radioed in that he had Argyle Male resting atop a Termite Mound, not being far and wanting to welcome the King back home we promptly turned around and headed in his direction. We did have to rush as he was on a property that we presently cannot drive off-road on due to the rain and would have to view him from the road. Our luck held out and Shaddy was able to hand over the sighting to us just as he became mobile in our direction. Relaxed as ever he walked straight passed the vehicle and crossed the road to a puddle on the opposite side were he stopped for a short drink before continuing to the North. Not being able to follow him we rushed to a road that was not to far to the North of us hoping that he would continue on his path but on reaching the road and waiting some time he did not appear. Thinking he had lay down we chose to stick around specially as there was a herd of Kudu heading in his direction and they would certainly give away his location, but they came and went without any sign of distress. He must have turned in the block and headed off to the East. As short as our sighting was it was good to see him back home, lets hope he sticks around a while.

If it is one animal that appears not to be a union member it is Leopard as Herold once again relocated on Argyle Jnr's male cub not far from the Impala kill which they managed to keep over night even though it is on the ground. Herold and his guests got to watch as he took a drink from one of the pools in the riverbed. Leaving a great sighting he joined me on the journey South in search of our quarry. The drive took on a familiar pattern with things going very quit after an explosive start, this did not bode well. Reaching the central area a crackled message from no where announced that there were two Rhino's on our Southern Boundary, mud wallowing. Not needing to her anything more we turned in their direction and immediately responded. Arriving at the sight we found they had moved on from their wallow and into a Mopane thicket. So although it was not a great photographic opportunity we could at least see them clearly from close by. Amazing how the bush works though because no sooner had the two been found another male was found further to the North West. Could the strike be over? 

After our rhino sighting we did not have much time and Jacky and I decided to head out East and take a chance, last roll of the dice, I think is the expression. As would be Murphy's Law we found fresh, fresh Lion tracks for two males and a female who had walked during the morning along the road we were now travelling. They had stopped at a puddle beside the road and taken a drink before turning to the North West. In a last ditch effort we launched Jacky on foot while I drove around to check the roads but with us already being into overtime and being on our Southern boundary we could not spend to much time. With Jacky in the block and us finding tracks crossing into the next block we had to pull the plug and return back to the lodge but with temperatures rising quickly and expected to reach 35C we don't think they are far and we will be there first thing this afternoon to follow up.

Feeling very confident at the start of drive that we would find ourselves Lions this afternoon, Shaddy headed directly with all the trackers to were we left the last tracks in the morning. Waiting on late arrivals I stuck to the North hoping that they would not be long. Herold also stuck to the North as he had new guests and wanted to follow up on Argyle Jnr and her cubs. Killing time I decided to try my hand at tracking and headed off in the direction of were they had the Buffalo herd in the morning. Along the way we picked up a couple of Buffalo Bulls that I believed to be trailing the herd. Arriving in the area I found tracks heading into the block towards the East so I checked the road to the North, finding nothing there I then checked the road back to the South and found nothing there, so if they did not cross the road that I was now on heading back to the West they must be in the block. Nearing where I had originally started we found them coming out the Sohobele River to the East, hmm................................. maybe I shouldn't quite my day job yet! 

Spending some time with them our new guests had still not arrived so we decided to respond to a herd of Elephant nearby. They were to be found in a rather difficult area and as we manoeuvred our way around we found ourselves drifting further and further into the block. After spending some quality time with a mother and her very, very young calf the next challenge was to find our way out. Herold thought the easiest way out was the way we came but I had this sneaky suspicion there was a shorter and easier route to a new road to our West. Reversing us into a Knobthorn Tree that nearly enveloped all of us did not install much confidence in my guests but this was soon regained when I did in fact find a road five minutes later. The fact that Herold headed East and popped out on another road in thirty seconds, does not matter, as they do not know this fact! 

With our guests still not arriving we could not wait any longer and I headed South East to go help Shaddy who had been with the trackers the entire time. While making my way there the trackers had covered a great distance to the North and it looked like these Lions, sorry, Lionesses, as there are only a couple of Lions that we know that walk through the heat of the day were in fact our two young Jacaranda Females. Arriving in the area I began to check the roads to the North East of the trackers to help speed up the process but every time I checked a road they appeared to change direction slightly so that I would have to drive a million miles around to try get to the next best road. Steadily making our way North it was clear that these two Lionesses had walked through the heat of the day as the trackers had now covered nearly five kilometres since starting and it looked like we were no nearer to finding them. At least along the way we had found ourselves more Elephant and a crash of three Rhino as a consolation. With the sun now below the horizon we had run out of time and we collected the trackers for sundowners. We all stuck to the area in the hope of catching them after dark with the spotlight but our chosen routes home proved fruitless, I guess it was not meant to be, maybe tomorrow.

Highlight Of The Day.

This is a tough one as it was great to see Argyle Male back in the North and HOME, but I think my highlight came in the form of two White Helmeted Shrikes engaged in a full on battle with one another on the road. They were oblivious to their surroundings and could have been easily picked off by a nearby predator, even the bombardment by their fellow shrikes could not break up the fight. We sat there for a full ten minutes watching amazed as they throttled one another, I've never seen such aggression in the bird world before and at one stage we thought we were watching a fight to the death. Things seemed to calm when both birds got a foot around the others beak clamping it shut and holding one another at a legs distance with the other. Stuck in this position for a while they both took time to recover and when they tried to adjust their grip they split momentarily and one then took the opportunity to flee for it's life while the other chased in hot pursuit. It was an amazing spectacle and something I've never witnessed.


  1. What a way to start my day. Thanks Grant.

  2. Thanks so much for the unusual photos of the Shrikes - really super camera-work.I do so enjoy these blogs from the Bush.