|Grant's Pic Of The Morning.|
( Grant, Herold, Shadrack & Marka.)
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Timbavati/ Umbabat Cutline.
Lion ( 2 x Jacaranda Females) / Argyle – Flooded Crossing.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Vyeboom Dam.
Rhino ( Male)
Rhino ( Male, Female & Calf)
Leopard ( Unknown) / Motswari – Western Cutline.
Once again we found ourselves on a final drive looking for Lion, not an unfamiliar position. On this occasion though we were fighting the weather as we set off on drive to “Mot Reen,” mist rain. Jacky ever the optimist casually informed me that at least we would know that the tracks we would now find would be fresh as they old ones were fast being dissolved by the mounting moisture. Having talked strategy at morning coffee we had divided up our traversing area and we all had our sections that we would check, with us heading North-East until reaching our traversing boundary we would then turn to the West and check the main tar road, a good choice given the weather conditions. Reaching the boundary the radio crackled to life for the first time since setting off and it brought good news as Herold had struck finding fresh tracks for Lions. Thinking he was close he dropped off Difference, his tracker, who no sooner had gone onto foot than messaged Herold that he could hear Impala calling out on the open plain of Phiva Plains. Herold quickly returned to fetch Diff and they proceeded to drive out onto the open plain where they found the two Jacaranda Females chasing after the many Impala that frequent the area hoping to create confusion with all the calves about and catch one of them or their mothers. It sounded like this went on a while as they split off in every direction after different members of the herd but eventually they returned to one another both empty pawed. With the rain starting to fall a little harder they headed off for the shelter of the nearby river vegetation. Having been the furtherest from the sighting we got in last and found that they had come to rest in a thicket which only offered partial views of these two magnificent cats. Arriving last did have it's advantage though as we could now sit with them and hope that they would move at some point. With the rain easing up and the arrival of three Hyena we thought a move was immanent but the Hyena seemed to have the opposite effect as the Lions moved into an easier position to defend themselves, which meant thicker bush. Lucky for us our guests love cats and they were prepared to sit no matter how long the stand-off lasted. Realising there was no food about and tiring of waiting on the Lions the Hyena became bored and moved off. A while later we could hear them whooping some distance away which the Lions had also seemed to notice and it was not long after that they themselves got up and started to walk along the river vegetation towards Argyle Dam. Pushing our way through we headed for the open area of the dam and got ourselves into a great position where we thought they would break on through. On this occasion we were right and we finally had ourselves the great sighting we had patiently waited for. They slowly made their way alongside the dam showing no interest in drinking but rather investigating the area especially the site where the Sohobele Males had been nearly a week prior. Our guests must have been huge cat fans as they were beside themselves and loved every minute of the experience which finally came to an end when they entered into a thick Mopane belt alongside the dam. Having full bellies could explain their lack of commitment while hunting and Jacky and I thought they were now looking for a spot to rest up. Knowing these Lions since cubs though we know that they wont rest long, as like the Sohobele's, they not only travel during the day but they travel great distances and this afternoon it is going to be a challenge for the guys to relocate them.
I wish them the best of luck as I hand back blogging duties to Chad who no doubt will keep you up to date on all the goings on.
Sharing Grant’s sentiments, I knew that we had to head out and begin tracking the lions straight away, as although they were fat bellied, there was no telling how far they would walk in the cool, cloudy weather, so after enjoying some impalas we arrived at Argyle Dam and Difference and Petros went on foot while we hung around looking at the hippos and a crocodile at the dam.
Hearing the trackers were struggling in the area, I chose to move on a bit and went to see a large herd of about 50 elephants that were all out in the open feeding below Sohebele Dam wall – what a great sighting it was, and as usual, our relaxed elephants came and literally fed within mere centimetres of where we were parked, and even the mother with a weeks old calf paid no attention to us.
A few of the trailing younger males fought, but in general it was a very calm sighting and we pulled ourselves away to head back hoping that the trackers would get lucky soon; fortunately there was a small herd of buffalos in the area, so we went to view them as Herold raced off to help the trackers after the baboons started alarm calling nearby to the trackers, a sure sign that the lions were close to the trackers; although the way the buffalo kept staring behind them, I was half thinking the lions were closer to us than we thought, but sadly, neither scenario proved to come to fruition.
Moving back to pick the trackers up as the light was fading, we enjoyed some zebras on the airstip before stopping in the gloomy weather for a welcomed drink with the hippos at Argyle Dam – so welcomed that even the three hyenas came to join us which was a real treat!
Not giving up on the lions despite running out of time, we went to check the roads around the big block the tracks didn’t appear to leave with the spotlight...and while trying to work out why all the impalas were staring south, we scanned around and found the lions......to the north! Oh well, the impalas didn’t know they were there, but we did, and got to spend some time with them resting on the road before they moved in the direction of the impalas, but we didn’t want to disturb their hunt, so we left them and went back to the lodge to enjoy a lovely evening in the boma.