Monday, 26 November 2012

25th November: Best Of The Best.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack & Andrea.)

Wilddog ( 19 x Pack) / Peru – Bulala Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys)
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Argyle – Klipdrift Crossing.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Hide Dam Northern Access.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Back Nines.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Vielmieter – Hide Dam.
Leopard ( Ntombi & Cub) / Vielmieter – Mangawaan Rd.
Rhino ( 2 x Males & Female)

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack, Marka & Herold.)

Wilddog ( 19 x Pack) / Peru – Concrete Crossing.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Tchwala Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Lion Pan Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Kings – Double Highway.
Leopard ( Ntombi & Cub) / Vielmieter – Mangawaan Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

Keen to get follow up on our find of the evening before we set off a fraction early under clouded skies that soon opened to drizzle on us. Welcoming the cooler weather we were keen to find a cat with spots this morning and headed straight South. We did have a back up in case the Impala carcass was gone and we would then continue on further South to visit a Hyena Den down at Umlani. Shaddy and Andrea began checking around the lodge and it was not long before Shadrack picked up tracks for two male Lions that had walked after the rain, so he was not far behind and began tracking. Being in the area Andrea was keen to help but true to her good form of late before she was able to get to the area she picked up on a large pack of Wilddog, this now had everyone descending in her direction. Choosing to stick to our objective we continued South trying hard to ignore the distractions and detours that began popping up. Along the way we received the bad news that the Impala carcass was still there but nothing had fed on it and there was no sign of any predator about. This was taking a familiar turn as it looked like everything was happening in the North and we had set off South. Sticking to our original plan we now decided not to go directly to the recently checked carcass but to zig-zag around the South and check other possible areas for our spotted cat. Shortly before reaching Hide Dam we found ourselves a nice small herd of Elephant and continuing to the dam we found a couple of Bulls and another herd of Elephant making their way to the water. They unfortunately did not drink as one of the boisterous Bulls hassled the females and chased them off to the East. 

It would appear all our Elephant were back after their disappearance yesterday afternoon as we found yet another herd behind Entrance Dam. Being a lot more settled we sat with them in an open clearing as they slowly enveloped us into the middle of the herd, so much so that we could actually reach out and touch a number of them should we have dared. Not breaking their trust in us we sat still and marvelled at these magnificent creatures as they went about their feeding. 

Slowly moving off to the East we once again headed off in the opposite direction towards our Impala carcass. Enough time had passed since it was last checked and we hoped that were there had been nothing their would now be the predator that had killed it. Slowly checking all the areas on our way to the dead Impala we arrived to find that our Impala lay in exactly the same spot untouched, well at least the Hyena and Lions had not got it. We now definitely thought that it belonged to one of our females and that she had headed off to collect her cub but that she more than likely made another kill before fetching him that they were now feeding on and would return to this one once they were finished with the one they were with. Running into Pat from Kings Camp, he informed me that he had checked the whole area to the West, so Jacky and I decided to check to the East, in the direction that we had the Impala and Francolin calling in. Driving slowly around we checked every road that we could and nearly having driven in a complete circle we picked up the distinctive silhouette of a Leopard lying in a tree, tail and all four legs dangling down. Immediately Jacky called out Ntombi as we drove around and into the bush. Pulling up under the tree she sat there full bellied looking down at us as if to say: “ Where had we been!” Looking over us intently to the East she began calling out and within a minute her young cub popped out the bushes to our left. He proceeded to approach and then jumped into the tree to join his mother where he began play fighting her. Loosing his footing a couple of times we decided to pull a little further back, as the last thing we wanted was for him to land in the car with us. Mom also decide this was not the best place to play either and descended closely followed by him. On the ground they resumed their game of tag and ran about the bushes below stalking and pouncing playfully on one another. Not a great area or light for photography we sat back and enjoyed the sighting. With them drawing a lot of attention we moved out to give the rest of the guys a chance. They later moved off a little distance from where we found them and led the guys to another Impala kill that they had fed on, thus confirming our theory. Well this is to be confirmed as very late in the morning Rockfig Jnr and her cub was also found in the area making their way towards the original Impala carcass. My money is still on it being Ntombi's but we will have to wait and see.

After a quick, wet coffee stop we returned North hoping to catch up with the Wilddogs who had caught themselves a Steenbok and an Impala which hopefully would anchor them for a while. We needn't have worried as we arrived in the area to find them resting in amongst the rocks and puddles of a nearby riverbed. True to many of our sightings of the past few days this must rate as one of my best Wilddog sightings as seventeen of them were all involved in different activities. Some lay and rested on the road, while others drank from the many scattered pools of water trapped in amongst the rocks and then you had the pups that were running about chasing one another in a game of tag. Occasionally adults would get involved in the game as they passed nearby. With the backdrop of the rocks and water it made for perfect photography and even the sun popped out for a brief minute or two. Chad you would have been in your element! With the threat of dishes once again looming we set off back to camp after yet another amazing drive.

Instead of setting off on afternoon drive in hot conditions it was the complete opposite and we got under way in rather chilly conditions made worse by a cool blustery wind that seemed to increase in intensity as the afternoon progressed. With two of our guests having missed out on the Wilddog in the morning we chose to head directly in their direction as under these weather conditions we did not believe they would be static for long, that was if they were in the same spot in the first place. Hearing that they were we continued in their direction arriving just as they became active. They had moved slightly from the morning but were still in the riverbed, well the adults were, the pups were on the bank up to no good. Getting restless quickly they ran through the riverbed to the West this roused the adults from their slumber and had them slowly following behind. The ran out into an open clearing but realising they were now out of the adults view and potentially at risk their enthusiasm withered and they turned back towards the riverbed where they rejoined the adults who had now made their way out onto the clearing. With nothing catching their immediate interest they once again settled down to rest.

Having a good sighting and seeing them active we took our leave and headed South wanting to follow up on our honeymoon Lions that nobody had checked on in the morning. Our trip South was a quit one and apart from a rather nervous breeding herd of Elephant we did not see much. Getting into the area of the Lions we checked all the surrounding roads but could not find any trace of them or any sign that may indicate in what direction they had headed.

Not having anything to go on we chose to head to Ntombi and her cub who were not far from our position. As was in the morning we found her in the identical Marula Tree and almost in the exact position on the same branch. We later located her cub who was also up a tree but he had chosen a Knobthorn, not sure what it is with young Leopards and thorn trees, close to their Impala kill. He sat on one of the branches watching guard of his prize. 

With light failing us early due to the thick cloud we headed off to have drinks in the shelter of a riverbed, taking a leaf out the Wilddogs book. Resuming after dark we wanted to head via Argyle Dam and see if we could get lucky with Hippo out of water but Jacky and I were not holding our breath under these weather conditions. To both our amazement we did not only find our Hippo but also not one but two Chameleons! These sightings seemed to distract everyone for a little bit from the brutal weather conditions we were being subjected to but we were all glad to call it a day and head home thereafter.