Friday, 28 December 2012

27th December: They Back, Well Most Of Them.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold, Giyani, Pete & Andrea.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Buffalo Pan.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Tawny Eagle.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Woza Woza Cutline.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Flooded Crossing.
Rhino ( 2 x Males & Adolescent Female)
Leopard ( Mbali Female) / Mbali – False Marula.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Argyle Dam Rd West.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Giyani, Pete, Andrea & Shadrack.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Long Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Vyeboom Dam.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Peru – Voeldam.
Rhino ( Male)
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Giraffe Pan.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Argyle – Western Sohobele.

Daily Synopsis.

Waking to rain it looked like we would be getting wet on drive but during coffee it eased and by the time we were ready to set off it had in fact stopped, almost as if it had been organised that way. Counting our lucky stars we set off checking around the camp. Our plans for the morning were to check our Northern boundary to the West and then travel South to the central regions, as although we didn't need Lions, a great deal of the guys did and it had them checking the more remote areas and boundaries in hope. We got off to a good start and found a herd of Elephant approaching Buffalo Pan for a drink. You would be pushed to find a prettier setting and it was great to sit with them as they quenched their thirst. We were under no pressure to move out the sighting as simultaneous to our find another three herds were found in the North of the reserve and we in fact had the herd to ourselves. Finished with their drink they slowly moved off into the riverine vegetation to continue feeding and we continued to the West.

In hind sight this was not such a good idea as we were leaving behind light sky and heading into the dark unknown. Well it was not unknown for long as the clouds slowly opened and began crying on us. As is with this type of weather everything goes into hiding except the large game like Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo and this was reflected once again by the mornings sightings as the larger animals were found. 

Hitting our Western boundary we once again found ourselves near Herold, who had been checking the tar road for Lions, again he had found Rhino, on this occasion three. We joined him and stayed with them a while but with the rain slowly penetrating our ponchos we once again set off seeking shelter under the large trees of the Tsharalumi River where we would also take coffee to warm ourselves. 

Our strategy worked as the rain stopped during our break and we resumed to lighter skies. Turning to the North we took a slow bumble back towards the lodge, along the way both Jacky and I simultaneously spotted a Leopard sitting up a Marula Tree. Stopping we pointed it out to our guests and we tried to identify it before moving closer. Being some distance away we could not tell and after everyone had seen it we decided to try creep closer. We needn't have worried about it running off because as soon as we were in range we identified it as “ Grandma,” or otherwise know as Mbali. She was wedged comfortably between two branches and unlike on our last couple occasions she was alert and surveying her territory. She looked very comfortable were she was and while sitting with her she did occasionally nap but then out of nowhere she descended and proceeded to move off and visit the all nearby large trees investigating the new smells after the rain and then marking them with her own scent. Having had a great sighting and notching up our hat trick of Leopards in as many days we moved off. We knew we were back North when we started to run into the Elephant herds that appear to be around every corner and it would be impossible to conduct a drive in this area at the moment without seeing at least two different herds. So it was a perfect morning for me as not only did we get to see my favourite Leopard but we got to spend lots of time with my favourite animal. Getting new guests in the afternoon lets hope everything is still about.

With our new guests not arriving in time for afternoon drive John, Val, Jacky and myself set off to check North of camp hoping that they would not be long and we could pick them up on our way back South. With the afternoon being another hot one we stuck to the Sohobele River unfortunately it appeared to hot and the animals remained hidden the first part of drive. On the plus side our plan had worked as we received a message from camp while driving along our airstrip that our guests had arrived. Quickly popping back to camp we collected them and set off once again. 

As we suspected the sightings started to trickle in of large game being found near water. The one that interested us the most was that of a herd of Elephant swimming in the Tsharalumi River not far West of Motswari, so we headed in their direction. Our journey was delayed though as we ran into a large group of Dagha Boys that had been resting in a nearby mud wallow. Explaining that we would see plenty of Dagha Boys and having to give away the secret of the swimming Elephant we did not spend much time with them and pushed on.

Murphy's Law played us a cruel blow though as on arriving at the Elephant sighting they had moved out of the water and were busy crossing our traversing boundary to the West. So not only had we missed out on the swimming spectacular but we also could not view them as they crossed out of our property. Hearing that another herd had been found back East of us very near Argyle Dam we were tempted to respond but hearing that there were a number of stations in the area we decided to avoid the hustle and bustle and chose to head further South West to follow up on three Rhino that had been seen there in the morning. 

Making our way there Giyani radioed in that he had a Rhino crossing in from Klaserie very near the area we were heading. With it getting late we decided to rather respond to his Rhino than spend time tracking the other three. This would buy us time to stop for a nice sundowner and then head into the area where we had Mbali in the morning and see if we could relocate her. Our visit to the Rhino was a good one as we followed him as he slowly went about feeding and marking his territory. He eventually made his way to a large mud wallow where he sat and rolled in, digging up mud with his horn. He then proceeded to a nearby tree where he began rubbing his horn against. After sufficiently marking his territory he continued into a Mopane thicket where we left him. 

Our sundowner stop was at the nearby Lily Pan but as was with the other waterholes we had visited it was quiet. Resuming after drinks we crossed East of the Tsharalumi and drove a few of the roads in the area that we had seen Mbali hoping to get another glimpse of her. This was not to be and in her place Jacky found us a Large Spotted Genet, a nice find but not quite as spectacular. Well there is always tomorrow.

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