Tuesday, 23 October 2012

22nd October: Pre-ambling Pachyderms.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold, Shadrack & Marka.)

Leopard ( Argyle Jnr's Male Cub) / Argyle – Horizon Rd.
Leopard ( Ntombi & Cub) / Vielmieter – Jiga Jiga Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip Link.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / DeLuca – Drongo Drive.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Kings – Hyena Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Herold, Shadrack & Marka.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Sandy Crossing.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Mbali – Battlefields One.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Vielmieter – Grasslands.
Rhino ( Male)
Rhino ( 2 x Males & Sub adult Female)
Leopard ( Ntombi) / Vielmieter – Jiga-Jiga Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

Waking to a beautiful morning, read it was not raining, it looked like this morning was to be the drive that we could possibly complete without getting drenched. As had been the focus of our past few days we were in search of Elephant and this morning was our last chance. Having repeatedly visited the East it was time for a change in tactic and Jacky and I decided to head to the West along our Northern boundary forgoing checking up on what happened to Makipi's and his kill, as I said, if it was not big and grey it did not count.

Amazing how this attitude brings out everything you not looking for and as we bumbled along we bumped into Argyle Jnr's young male cub crossing from the North. He was slowly mobile along a drainage line inspecting all the new smells, a good area for a Leopard but not so wonderful for a vehicle and we struggled to follow him. Not being in the most relaxed mood we kept our distance. To our surprise no one else showed any interest in responding even though it was discovered that Makipi's kill had been stolen by Lions, they chose to follow up on the Lion tracks which lead them off West. Having him to ourselves we sat with him as he went through his mornings grooming routine before setting off along the drainage line once again. Following him he eventually led us into a thicket that he took cover in and all we could see of him was a spot or two bringing an end to our sighting

Continuing to the West we received news that a station was following up on Elephant tracks heading in our direction. Committing to help follow up we made our way into the area, unfortunately before arriving we were informed that the tracks had already crossed North and over our traversing boundary into Ntsiri. Checking with all the Motswari guys if anybody had any signs to follow up on we received the bad news that nothing had been found. Now being desperate I put a call out on the radio that if anybody had any sign of Elephant I was willing to travel. No sooner had a finished I received a call back telling me that beyond our Southern boundary a herd had been located and we were welcome to respond if we wanted, hmm............ typical here we sit on our Northern boundary. Informing my guests of the good and bad news the were excited and understood that we would have to head directly South with blinkers on. Setting off on the “ Great Trek” I mentioned to Jacky that no doubt everything would now appear to delay our trip. True to form it was not long before we ran into a large herd of Giraffe and then shortly followed by a family of Warthog. Turning a blind, well sort of, we continued on our way. 

Focussed on the Elephant we totally ignored the sightings of the three Lions, Ntombi and her cub on a kill and multiple fresh signs for Rhino which the others had found. Eventually arriving on scene we found one Elephant, a little disappointing I would say, but our guests thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Venturing further into the bush we found the rest of the herd hidden by thick cluster leaf trees. Making our way around the large thicket we headed to the front of the herd in a clearing and waited for them to approach. Going was slow as they fed on all the fresh new growth but the wait was well worth it when twenty or so Elephant of a herd twice that size descended on us and surrounded the vehicle feeding. We had all ages present involved in different activities, some feeding, some resting and others playing. No guesses to who were playing and we chose to stick with the youngsters as they went about pushing one another around followed by a game of tag. Having been looking for them the past three days and having travelled the entire length of the reserve to visit them we were not going to be leaving any time soon. Actually we sat with them the rest of our morning being unable to pull ourselves away and every time we tried we found something else that would keep us captivated. 

With time eventually bringing us back to reality we shot off back North having had an amazing Elephant experience.

Afternoon drive was a hot and steamy affair and the clouds could not quite make up their minds if they were staying or going. Receiving new guests Jacky and I were starting from scratch and it did not really much matter where we drove as everything would be new. With the majority of the action happening in the South in the morning we decided to whined our way in that direction. Picking up a fair amount of general game and having avid birders aboard things took a little longer than normal and at one stage it looked like we would never leave Phiva Plains. In an attempt to speed things up Jacky and I began choosing less productive game roads in the hope to pick up our pace but this plan was thawted when we ran into a Bull Herd of Elephant, not that was a bad thing but after our struggles of the last couple days it is ironic that we would just run into them in the middle of no-where. While we sat with them the rest of the gang sounded like they were having as productive an afternoon with Marka finding a herd of Elephant and Shadrack finding himself a relaxed male Rhino

Getting back on the road we responded to the sighting of Ntombi and her cub with their Impala kill as we did not want to leave it to late as her kill was on the ground and it would therefore be a negative lock after dark. Arriving at the sight we only found Ntombi who was now some distance from her kill sitting up in a Marula Tree trying to escape the effects of a combination of over-indulgence and a warm and sticky afternoon. Looking at her laboured breathing it would appear she had just finished eating and had moved up into the tree recently. Her cub was reported to be in the area but when we stopped in at the kill on our way out of the sighting there was no sign of him. 

On our way out we received a message from Godfrey who was on his way back from Java telling us that he had found three Rhino. Not being far from the area we chose to head in their direction and try view them before our sundowner stop. Finding the spot where he had seen them Jacky went onto foot to follow up on the tracks while I drove the surrounding roads to see if they may have crossed over. Nearly completing the block and finding no signs of them having crossed over I received a message from Jacky that he had located them in the middle of the block. Making our way in towards them and to fetch Jacky it was not easy going as we not only had to contend with a deep drainage line but also very thick thorny vegetation. Arriving with them we were expecting the large male and the female and her calf but we found instead two males and a female sub-adult. They were not familiar to us but they seemed very relaxed with the vehicle and only on one occasion did they move off when we got a little close. Losing light and still wanting to stop for drinks we took our leave of them after a good sighting. Drinks came and went without any excitement and it was quit on our way home but given the afternoon we had done very well.

Highlight Of My Day.

Not to be biased but it has to go to our morning sighting of the Elephant. In particular the antics of the juveniles pushing one another around and the Tom Foolery they got up to. It was well worth the hour we spent with them.


  1. Who would have thought "Pachyderms" (Google translate helped) can be cute ... and I have a new PC background of Ntombi. Thanks Grant.

  2. Grant, with the thorny vegetation you mention, do you every get punctures and have to be rescued? I find it hard to believe that with so many vehicles out in the bush, that none of you get the odd puncture.