|Pic Of The Day.|
( Grant, Herold, Shadrack, Marka & Andrea.)
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Motswari Northern Access.
Wilddog ( 19 x Pack) / Peru – Jacks Camp.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Vielmieter – Back Nines.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Peru – Wilkens Way.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Russet Rd.
Leopard ( Ntombi & Cub) / Vielmieter – Mangawaan Rd.
( Grant, Shadrack & Marka.)
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Mfene Crossing.
Leopard ( Mbali Female) / Peru – Wilkens Way.
Wilddog ( 19 x Pack) / Peru – Jack's Camp.
Rhino ( Tshangula Male)
Rhino ( 4 x Crash)
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Peru – Sohobele Plains.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Great North.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Vyeboom Dam.
With our new guests joining for morning drive and having heard all about our adventures at dinner the evening before the pressure was on and both Jacky and I hoped our animals would come to the party once more. Although we were under pressure, Marka and Herold were under the gun as they needed to find Lions for their guests on their last drive. Knowing that they would head to the boundary's Jacky and I decided to head straight in Ntombi's direction hoping that she would still be around. We believed she would but we thought that she would only have a little of her kill left and that she would finish it this morning and then move off, so we best get there early. With the Wilddogs having moved off towards Java in the South East the evening before we also wanted to visit both airstrips on our way hoping to find them as well. Our trip South was one filled with Raptors and every Eagle and his friend appeared to be out this morning thus delaying our trip as we racked up a very impressive list that any birder would be proud of. Shortly before checking the airstrips we received news that Andrea had found the Wilddogs not far from where they had been the evening before. They had killed themselves a young Kudu and were busy feeding. Being stuck in no-mans land we chose to continue South and hoped their meal would suffice and keep them in the area for our visit later. As is usual when trying to get somewhere a number of distractions appear along the way on this occasion it was multiple mammals that were responsible and would include, Warthog, Zebra, Giraffe, Elephant, Kudu, Waterbuck, Steenbok and Hyena, we won't list the multitude of birds.
By the time we got to the region Ntombi had her kill Andrea had finished with the Wilddog in the North and actually arrived in the South to find both Ntombi and her cub still busy with the scraps of their Impala kill. We joined her in what was to be an amazing sighting as both were up in a Marula Tree finishing off the remainder of the kill. It was a balancing act that had Ntombis cub eventually drop the ribs and spinal column that was fully intact, head and all, but not before wrestling with it one pawed. He then joined mom who was busy with a leg but with his arrival she anchored it in a fork and paid him the attention he was looking for and groomed his entire head. This put him to sleep and as he rested on the branch Ntombi returned to the ground and began feeding on the ribs.
Having had a great sighting and still wanting to visit the Wilddogs we took our leave and headed towards the Tsharalumi River for morning coffee. After our drinks we proceeded North finding a nice herd of Elephant along the way. We did not spend much time with them as they moved off into a very thick Mopane area pushed by a young bull. Once again we found a fair amount of general game on our trip to the Wilddog that would delay our arrival but luck was to be on our side as we found them resting beneath the large Appleleaf Trees of the riverbank. Sitting out in the open we could see them nice and clearly and looking at the size of their bellies we needn't of worried as I think they will still be in the same spot this afternoon. With the threat of dishes looming we set off back to the lodge for brunch.
With Herold and Marka not finding their Lions in the morning we thought it improbable that we would find in the afternoon and we thought it best to concentrate on another two members of the “ Big Five” we were missing for our guests, Buffalo and Rhino. We could then devote our entire attention to finding the big cat on their last drive in the morning, not that we would not keep an eye out this afternoon but as I said improbable.
We did not have to travel far for our first objective as Shadrack found a large herd of Buffalo West of Motswari's airstrip. Well maybe if they could appear from nowhere then their was hope for Lions on afternoon drive. Noticing that they were a little nervous Marka and Shaddy thought that there actually may be Lions behind the herd but being on our traversing boundary they could unfortunately still be on the other side waiting for nightfall. This did not stop Marka backtracking the Buffalo just to make sure. Our visit offered up intermittent views of the herd as the moved through a particular thick belt of Mopane.
Seeing what we had come for we headed off towards Argyle Dam to check on our resident Hippo and Crocodile. As is usual for this hour the dam was a hive of activity with Zebra, Kudu, Waterbuck, as well as the Hippo and Crocodile all being in attendance. While spending time with them all we received news that Mbali had been found again very near to where she had been in the morning, not being far we decided to pop in and visit. We arrived to the usual sighting of Mbali, lying fast asleep at the base of a tree in the shade not even lifting her head to acknowledge our arrival. Knowing her by know we knew all we had to do was wait. True to form it was not long before she lifted her head, this was followed by her getting up and heading into a small clearing to do her daily business. She then returned to the base of the Mopane thicket and began eating on a Steenbok she must have caught between drives. It was untouched and she set about licking the fur clearing an area to start feeding from. Although it was not a great sighting for photography we were able to get within a few metres of her and watch her with fascination as she went about feeding. Our intention of wanting to head South to follow up on the female Rhino and her calf from morning drive become a distant memory as we sat transfixed with Mbali. Responding to the sighting Marka found fresh tracks for a Rhino that he dropped Patrick to follow up on.
With space for only one vehicle with Mbali we took our leave and headed off to help Patrick. Dropping Jacky off I began checking the surrounding roads as we were now racing time as the sun was fast approaching the horizon. Under guidance to the direction I should be checking I found were he had crossed our path still heading in a South Easterly direction slowing to check the tracks one of our guests casually pointed out the colossal giant to our right slowly making his way across a drainage line. Making our way around the deep drainage line we found him slowly feeding and marking his territory every thirty metres or so towards Mangwa clearing. We stuck with him through some tricky areas eventually getting a good view as he approached the clearing itself. With the sun nearly down and Marka having joined the sighting we took our leave and headed for sundowners at Voeldam.
It is amasing how fast the afternoon passed as it felt like we had just left camp and it was now time once again to return. Looking back at it though we did have a jam packed drive with our Buffalo, Leopard, Wilddog and Rhino, not to even mention the multitude of general game about and the wide variety of birds. I guess the great thing was that it was chilled and not rushed and we were only aware of the time when it was time to head home. Lets hope our Lions return in the morning to complete a near perfect visit for our guests.