Friday, 9 November 2012

7th and 8th November – Once Bitten...Twice Shy!

Photo of the Day
Makepisi male after chasing Mbali female into a tree

7th November Morning Drive
(Andrea and Peter)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Buffalo Kill
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Confluence Crossing
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Makulu Crossing
3 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Airstrip Rd
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Ingwelala Cutline

7th November Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Andrea, Shaddy and Peter)
2 x lions (Ximpoko male and unknown lioness) – Vielmetter, Western Cutline
1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Peru, Sohebele Dam
1 x rhino
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Camp Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Northern Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Sohebele Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Peter Pan Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Karans, Western Cutline
3 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Buffalo Pan Access
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Sohebele Plains
1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Vielmetter Access
2 x elephant bulls – Vielmetter, Hide Dam Southern Access
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Piva Plains

8th November Morning Drive
(Chad, Andrea and Shaddy)
1 x breeding herd of buffalos – Peru, Voel Dam Southern Access
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Woza-Woza Cutline

8th November Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Andre, Marka and Shaddy)
2 x leopard (Mbali female and Makepisi male with female impala kill) – Peru, Sohebele Dam
5 x elephants – Motswari, Camp

Daily Synopsis
After the excitement of the last few days, it was good to get a bit of a sleep in, and I joined the guys on afternoon drive with a new set of guests.  The morning had not been overly productive, but at least the Ximpoko male lion and his girlfriend had been found, so I had a sighting to plan my drive around.

We began by checking the airstrip, but had no sooner got there when we turned around to go and look at a couple of breeding herds of elephant on the eastern side of the lodge; sadly they moved into the thickets, but as the drive progressed, we saw so many elephants that we eventually stopped stopping to view them!

Elephants near the camp

Back towards Argyle Dam, we ticked off more impalas, hippos, baboons and crocodile before seeing if Mbali was still there, but her kill was gone, and so was she, so we enjoyed more waterbucks, impalas and a crocodile while we checked the surrounding areas for her. 

Baboons and waterbuck at Argyle Dam

While watching the crocodile, another herd of elephants came walking down the Sohebele River and we spent some time watching them.

Crocodile and elephant herd

More waterbuck and a lone elephant were occupying Sohebele Plains as we then turned south towards Vielmetter and the lions; another couple of herds of elephants and lone bull elephants were seen but no rhinos as had been hoped – luckily Andrea and Pete had better luck in the west with a lone male rhino there, but he was in immensely thick bush which made the sighting very tricky!

Waterbuck bulls

I then turned back to the lions and arrived as they woke up and got mobile to the south; while they came together a few times, the lioness did not seem particularly interested in mating, and the male seemed more intent in finding his partner, and almost let off a full roar in front of us despite the windy, gloomy weather....and it was also at this point that my battery decided to die....and I guess there was no push starting the Land Rover with two lions either side of us!!!

Ximpoko male lion and his unknown girlfriend

Luckily Shaddy was on hand to come and push us and we got going, only then to have our spotlight blow on us!!!  It really was not our night; so I should only have been slightly surprised when Pete found Mbali exactly where I had been looking for her, but she pulled a fast one and disappeared in the Sohebele Riverbed before anyone else could get to the sighting.

Going to bed with the rain, we knew that the weatherman’s promise of rain all day was likely to be true, but waking to find it dry was a pleasant surprise, and so off we set.

We started off with impalas, steenbuck, duiker, giraffe, waterbuck and some zebras in the north before finding tracks for a herd of buffalo from after the rain, so began pursuing them; as confusing as they were, we persisted as a male lion’s tracks were following behind, and we knew that there was a chance that if we found the buff, we would find the lion.

Zebra, giraffe, impala and waterbucks

Eventually we located the buffalo, but they were quite chilled, and as the rain started we headed out; then the next station visiting the buffalos found the lion close to where we had actually seen his tracks, so we raced to join them, but sadly they gave us horrible directions, and by the time they knew where they were, they had lost the lion and left the area, leaving me without any idea where to even look!  But I tried driving circles around the area, but sadly it was to no avail.

Breeding herd of buffalo

After coffee, the rain began again and we headed back to camp on the cold weather, not seeing much more than impala, wildebeest, waterbuck and a couple of herds of giraffe as we got closer to the camp.

After brunch the rain really came down, but it stopped before the afternoon drive, so we headed out after the 18mm of rain, not really expecting to find much, but that is the beauty of the bush!

My plan was to...well, I had no plan, but I knew I needed leopard!  I began heading to the area where Mbali had been seen yesterday, but on hearing that there had been report of audio for lion in the east, I was making my way there.  We saw some impala, wildebeest, waterbuck and a nice herd of 10 giraffes feeding on Piva Plains before noticing a vulture in a tree at the southern end of Piva Plains, and as I had just told my guests that it was the perfect weather to find vultures roosting, I thought nothing of it.

Giraffe herd on Piva Plains

But on arriving, we found several more vultures in the company of bateleurs and tawny eagles – all scavengers and all a sure sign that something was dead.  Jumping off the vehicle with Petros, I began hoping that the dead thing wouldn’t involve one of us!  Walking through the bush, we soon found a drag mark for a leopards kill, and we both looked at one another and laughed before breaking a branch off a fallen tree and began following the drag mark...this felt far too familiar, but when the drag mark headed into a thicket, Petros suggested that we rather go back and fetch the vehicle and track from the Land Rover...which we did, just a pity the drag mark went down into the Sohebele Riverbed where we couldn’t easily get to, but we made a plan and I soon spotted the impala sleeping in a tree – not by her own choice of course!

That turned out to be the easy part, as now accessing this was going to be difficult as our old access to this area was washed away in the January floods, but after a couple of attempts, we managed to get into the area over some tricky terrain, but it was well worth it.

We soon spotted Mbali up in the tree, but she climbed all the way to the very top, and the reason why became apparent when we spotted Makepisi male sitting at the bottom of the tree looking up at her!  What a bonus, not one, but two leopards!  Sadly the visual wasn't great of either of them, but the whole experience of tracking them down and getting into a position to view them was a real highlight for Evert, Louise, Oetske and Seerp, my four Dutch guests, and despite getting poured on with rain while sitting in the sighting, it was their best ever game drive, according to them!

Makepisi at the base of the tree that housed Mbali and her kill

As the rain came down, we raced back to Motswari Hanger for a drink, and passed giraffe, impala, a hippo out the water, wildebeest and zebras as we continued to get wet, but nothing that some beer and wine couldn’t sort out!

After drinks the rain died down and we went to check up on another impala sleeping in a tree that Marka had located on our northern boundary, but sadly all we saw was the impala before making our way back to the lodge for a warm shower!

Shaddy braved the rain and was rewarded with a great sighting of the leopards – Mbali left the tree and went back to where she had stashed the unborn impala foetus, and as she was lying there, a hyena came running in and chased her up a tree with the kill – so while she lost the whole mother, she still had a bit of protein left.

Will definitely go and check up on the kills and see what happens with them tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. Come rain or shine, it's all about finding the surprises in the bush ...