Thursday, 22 November 2012

21st November: " Big Five " Drive.

Pic Of  The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold, Andrea & Shadrack.)

Rhino ( 2 x Males & Adolescent Female)
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Java Dam.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Mbali – White Syringa Link.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Scholtz – Scholtz/ Karans Cutline.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Argyle – Mangova Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Vielmieter – Sweet Water Pan.
Leopard ( Unknown Female) / Java – Java Access.
Leopard ( Ntombi & Cub) / Vielmieter – Phiva Rd.
Leopard ( Unknown Female) / Peru – Argyle Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Herold, Andrea & Shadrack.)

Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd West.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Pan Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Peru – Klipgat Crossing.
Rhino ( Male)
Leopard ( Ntombi) / Vielmieter – Nyosi River Rd.
Leopard ( Unknown Female – Klakhiso?) / Peru – Argyle Rd.
Lion ( Mhaband & Xipoko Males) / Kings – Tamboti Rd.
Lion ( 3 x Mafikizolo Lionesses) / Kings – Double Highway.

Daily Synopsis.

With days filled with the “ Big Five” and lots of other general game about we have been spoilt the last couple of days and the only thing that we have missed out on has been the Wilddog, who had once again eluded us yesterday evening after they had been found in an area we had driven an hour before. So our mornings mission was to dedicate it to finding these magnificent creatures. We were not alone as Shaddy also headed South in search of the dogs. Herold was in search of Leopard while Andrea wanted to find Rhino. Heading out East we first wanted to check for any signs of the “ Super Pack,” while Shaddy headed directly South to follow up on the thirteen from yesterday evening. Along his way he picked up on fresh Rhino tracks that he informed Andrea about who took no time in following up on and finding making easy work of her mornings mission. She proceeded to find a herd of Elephant at Java Dam shortly after that seemed to occupy her morning. As was with our trip East a couple of days ago we criss-crossed the entire area and came up with nothing living. Shaddy also had no success as he covered the entire Southern area but could not find any signs for the pack. Herold had mixed fortunes as the first Leopard he found disappeared faster than lightening and I think only he and Difference got to view it. Hearing that Ntombi and her cub were being tracked further to the South West they headed off to help. It was not long before Difference worked his magic and we received a message that they had located Ntombi taking her cub back to a small Impala that she had killed. Sticking to our objective we found the tracks of the smaller pack of Wilddog heading across our traversing to the East and we also found a number of Vultures settled in the area that we could not access. 

Stopping for morning coffee at a nearby waterhole we were sure the Vultures were following the Dogs and we hoped that would join us at the water for a drink as the temperatures soared. Noticing the Vultures get mobile and circle up to the East we wrapped up coffee and headed in their direction hoping the dogs had got mobile and that we would be led to their location or at least find tracks that we could follow up on. Returning East we began searching once again but found no signs at all and think that the Vultures may of tired of waiting on the dogs realising that they more than likely had settled for the day in this heat. With the rest of the gang visiting a busy Ntombi sighting we chose to head back North and leave our visit to the afternoon.

Receiving new guests in the afternoon Jacky and I plotted out a route. With the afternoon being a scorcher and clouds mounting in the South we decided on our “ Go Too” route. We would start via Motswari Airstrip and the head out onto Phiva Plains making our way to the Tsharalumi River where we would wind along its course to the South, taking us into the area where Ntombi and her cub had been as well as a couple of unidentified Lions that we could possibly get lucky with after dark.

All sorted we set off and it was not long before we picked up on a good number of general game that would include, Impala, Waterbuck, Zebra, Steenbok and Warthog.

Leaving the open plain and it's manager y of animals we picked up on a small herd of Elephant slowly feeding along a Mopane belt, being very relaxed we were able to get in amongst the herd and spend some quality time with these majestic beasts. 

Quickly falling behind on our itinerary we eventually had to drag ourselves away and continue towards the Tsharalumi. Once on the river we again picked up on a number of general game but only ticking Giraffe as new. Nearing one of the larger pools along the rivers course we found ourselves a very large herd of Buffalo Bulls, that must have been over twenty, all lying in the water clearly trying to escape the afternoons heat. At this rate we would never get down to Ntombi who had been relocated resting in a tree along the Nyosi River. 

Leaving the Buffalo to their rumination we got under way only to hear that a Rhino had been found along our intended route. As not many stations were in the area and being along the way we quickly detoured to visit. With the wind now having picked up considerably and the storm approaching he was not that relaxed and kept moving off at the slightest noise. Keeping our distance we viewed him from a far and kept our visit short.

Back on the road towards Ntombi the storm rolled in over our heads with a spectacular show of sheet lightening and deep rumbling, luckily the rain appeared to be holding off for the minute as it was all lights and noise. Arriving on site with Ntombi we found her still fast asleep up in a Weeping Wattle, she did not even open her eyes to acknowledge us, clearly trying to keep up with her son, now nearly a year old, was taking its toll.

Finished with our sighting it was decision time as we had two choices, we could stop for sundowners in the last light of the day or continue South and try relocate on two male Lions who had been found earlier in the afternoon. The problem with the second option was that they had been left alone and we did not know if they would still be there and they were in an area we were not all that familiar with and this would be compounded by the fact that it was now dark. Umming and ahhing, we decided for option two, never the easy option, and contacted Pat from Kings Camp to get permission as well as directions. He also thought it was a good idea that we go as these days you never know when and where you will see Lions. Getting detailed directions we headed off on our next adventure made all that more exciting by the inclement weather. Going wrong only once we found the spot and as luck would have it both males were still there lying in the riverbed. Pulling in the one sat up and providing us a great view of this majestic male. Spellbound we sat with them long beyond what our time allowed and eventually with lightening above and all around we finally had to say our goodbyes as the first drops of rain began to fall.

Being on the opposite side of the reserve we had a long way home and it was now a race to get there before the heavens opened. Our cause was not helped as Jacky kept finding things along the way, the highlight of these being another three Lions from the Mafikizolo Pride who must have been the one's seen earlier in the day that shied away. Not spending much time with them we continued our trip home which would have us find a Civet, two Hyena and a number of Owls along the way. Arriving as the heavens opened we had, for a change, timed it perfectly and could not have chosen a better route. It has been a very long time for Jacky and I since seeing all five on one drive but this drive was made that more special by all the other things we had also found. I wonder what awaits us tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. So Chad is off on his break and it's time for the Big Five - all in one day. With a number of extra treats. I don't think Water buck's likes Warthogs. Great stuff, Grant.