Sunday, 18 November 2012

15th November – Awesome Airstrips!!!

Photo of the Day
Our wild dog mega-pack still around!

Morning Drive
(Chad, Marka and Herold)
14 x wild dogs – De Luca, Argyle Rd
2 x leopards (Java Dam female and subadult with impala kill) – Karans, Southern Access
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Voel Dam Southern Access
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Motswari, Ingwelala Cutline
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Hanger Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Java, Java Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Argyle Dam

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant and Herold)
30 x wild dogs – Borneo, Borneo Airstrip
2 x leopards (Java Dam female and subadult with impala kill) – Karans, Southern Access
2 x rhinos
1 x breeding herd of elephants- Motswari, Airstrip
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Workshop Link
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Camp
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Jaydee River Rd
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Hanger Rd
1 x elephant bull – Java, Airstrip
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Hanger Rd
7 x buffalo bulls – Jaydee, Jaydee River Rd

Daily Synopsis

This morning I needed lions, and was also wanting to see the wild dogs again, so I began by heading to the east, and as I was nearing Xinatsi Dam, a pair of very round ears got me quite excited, but as I focused more clearly, I saw that it was two hyenas and not the wild dogs as I had hoped; Grant was returning to the lodge and bumped into a pack of wild dogs on the Motswari Access Rd, so notified Marka who was already on his way to the area, and he managed to see about 16 of them on Ingwelala Airstrip before they sadly ran west into Ingwelala and I was left with only a distant visual having raced there to get there in time, but to no avail.

As the dogs were now gone, and tracks for a male lion following a herd of buffalo had been located in the west, I skipped the east, naturally assuming that the wild dogs were the same; I was thus quite aggrieved when the camp attendant from Borneo radioed to tell us that the big pack of wild dogs were still on his airstrip!  So much for my sarcastic comment to Petros about the pack definitely being the same; when he asked me “how did they get from Borneo to Ingwelala”, I jokingly retorted “they have these things called ‘legs’”.  I sometimes love it when I’m wrong though!

Either way, it was too late as I was out in the west and dropped Petros off on the lion tracks and went to locate the buffalo herd on my own – how hard could it be to find 200 buffalo?  Well, as usual, more difficult than I thought, but after criss-crossing the roads, I eventually located them and spent time with them.

Giyani had gone to try his luck with the wild dogs, and came across a leopard running off with a kill on his way there, so I headed into that area to see f I could get lucky; but not before checking along the Nhlaralumi Riverbed where we had waterbucks, kudu, my first baby impala of the season (although they have been around for a week now), and more importantly, my first woodlands kingfisher of the summer, officially announcing the start of summer with their incessant calling!

After coffee, we had a buffalo bull and a warthog wallowing at Java Dam as the morning heated up before I went to try my luck with the leopards that I knew were skittish, and suddenly last night’s sighting of the three of them made sense – mom was taking the kids back to a kill!  Not having a tracker, I felt exposed, but as we were driving though the bush, something caught my ear, and I stopped; peering into the bush next to me, I then saw the flick of an ear, and a quick peek with my binoculars revealed this to be a leopard...without sounding arrogant, even I was impressed, as I am usually rubbish at finding anything!  I gave the bush a wide berth, and eventually got into a position where we could just see the one youngster, but after a minute or so she lost her nerve, and together with the mom bolted out the bush; we regained visual of both of them, but it was not particularly great for photos...but as far as seeing them goes, it was great, so we headed back to camp totally satisfied!


In the afternoon, we welcomed back Gabi, one of our regular guests as she and a friend started a two week stay with us; Bridget’s first request was to see elephants...and it took about 2 minutes to satisfy that, as about 30 elephants were all out and about feeding on our airstrip, so we pulled in and enjoyed a truly magical sighting of them.

There were actually a couple of herds in the area, and a load of tiny babies that stayed close to the mothers as the herd fed on the greenery around us.

The elephants were so relaxed that they eventually came and fed within 5m of the vehicle...then 4m...eventually they were less than a metre from us, making for one of my most magical sightings of the last few days!

After that, I wanted to try for the wild dogs in the north, so checking towards the northern boundary we found some buffalos and more elephants just off the airstrip, as well as some bushbuck, but little else, or any sign of the wild dogs, so off I went to check for the wild dogs on Borneo.

It was generally quiet, but that is the beauty of the east, and as we were driving along Borneo Airstrip, out popped on wild!

Looking back towards the camp trough, we saw more, and I turned to leave the now two dogs in favour of about five...but I had got about 30m when we looked behind, and suddenly all of the pups were out in the open!  Had we been 5 minutes earlier, we would likely have missed the whole scene!

Eventually all the dogs regrouped and ran around chasing each other on the airstrip for the rest of the evening, seemingly unable to use up all of their energy, despite once again not going to on an afternoon hunt!

Leaving them, we discovered we had a flat tyre, so ended up stopping to have a drink on the airstrip with the dogs still playing a couple of hundred metres away as we ended off another wonderful day on a day that seemed to have all the action on their airstrips - even later in the evening the wild dogs, a lone lioness and a herd of elephants pitched up on Ingwelala Airstrip!

The trip back was a bit quiet and didn’t produce much besides some chameleons.  Still, with wild dogs still in the area, I didn’t care too much!



  1. Blue, blue sky, ellie babies, hyperactive wild dogs ... magic!

  2. How do you get the animals off the airstrip in the case of a landing ?

  3. I never saw that many elephants interacting with humans and still be calm! It was amazing!

  4. Wonderful sighting of elephant and wild dogs - so large a herd and so close. What colours!!

  5. The elephant that came right up to you and the resultant photo you took, in my opinion, is a cover page shot for any wildlife magazine! Do you ever send your photos in to the various publishers?