Sunday, 30 December 2012

29th December: Leo, Where Fore Out Thou!

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold, Shadrack & Pete.)

Leopard ( Argyle Jnr) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip Rd.
Leopard ( Ntombi's Cub) / Kings – Airstrip Rd.
Wilddog ( 26 Pack) / Rockfig – Argyle Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Mbali River Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / JayDee – Enkombi Pan.

Afternoon Drive.

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

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Ingwelala/ Sharalumi Crossing.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Klipdrift Crossing.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Concrete Crossing.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Tchwala Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Argyle Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Argyle Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Argyle – Long Rd.
Rhino ( 2 x Males)

Daily Synopsis.

Now joining the club of needing to find Lion but not quite at the do or die stage we headed back out to the East to try relocate on the Buffalo herd that we had found there the day before hoping it had drawn in a Lion or two. Our spirits were lifted that little bit when John, our trusty night watchman, told us that he had Lions roaring in that direction. Checking along the Eastern boundary and the waterholes in the region we once again found little signs of life although were it had been dead yesterday we found ourselves a very nice herd of Zebra which made the trip worthwhile in itself. 

Turning to the South we picked up on the tracks for the Buffalo herd which now were heading back East and would lead us on a wild goose chase for the better part of the morning as we constantly changed directions between South, East and West. To cut a very frustrating story short and one I'd rather not go through again we eventually followed them to our Southern boundary where they crossed out and away and all hope of finding Lions went with them. So while we were lost in no man's land the rest of the guys were viewing Leopards, Wilddog, Elephant and Rhino, time to get in on the action. Finding ourselves far South we chose to respond to a sighting of Ntombi's cub who had earlier in the morning been found sitting nicely up in a Marula Tree on King's property. He had now moved and was along the Nyosi river in a very thick area. Hearing this I was half tempted to head onto the Wilddog instead but thought may as well take a chance as I had very vivid dreams of Leopards the previous evening and they had all been very good sightings. Approaching the area both Jacky and I wondered how on earth they had actually followed him to where he was, as the bush was extremely thick and there was very little room to manoeuvre the vehicle around. The guys in the sighting had mentioned that the visual was five out of five and a great sighting but on approach our little friend decided to become mobile and he moved into a nearby riverbed, this was about to get very interesting. With the others choosing to pull out the sighting we were left to try and follow him. Lucky for us he was in a very chilled mood and slowly sauntedalong the riverbed, this allowed us to get around the riverine vegetation and keep up with him. He could have shaken us at any stage by merely crossing to the opposite bank but he seemed to enjoy the company and instead of moving away he moved towards us. Approaching a bend in the river with a very steep bank on the opposite side and extremely thick vegetation to the North on our side it was a make or break position as he sniffed at the base of a Nyala Tree. Should he decided to continue along his path or change direction in any way except the way he had walked in on he would be lost to us. Holding thumbs I think both Jacky and I willed him into the tree and without a second glance he obliged and hopped up onto a beautiful branch and came to rest in typical Leopard fashion. Getting ourselves into position both Jacky and I were surprised at how relaxed this young male has become and he is definitely a star of the future, it will be a sad day when he moves on to find his own territory, we can only hope he chooses to head North. Sitting with him for the rest of our drive we enjoyed an incredible sighting and this was further enhanced sitting in a such a picturesque spot. Needless to say the Wilddogs were a distant memory, maybe this afternoon.

 Knowing that there were no Lions in the immediate area and with the heat such as it was it was unlikely that any had arrived we set off on afternoon in search of Elephant. Choosing to had for the rivers and follow there course to the South we wanted to be in our South West corner for sundowners and there after we would travel along our Western Boundary all the way back to the lodge in the hope that we would pick up on Lions crossing into our traversing area, desperate times called for desperate measures. It did not take us long to find our Elephant and as suspected they were at the first bit of water we came across. At first it looked like a couple of Kambaku's but then we found a few females. Sitting with them a while more and more began to emerge from the thick riverine vegetation and it was only when the were right beside the vehicle that we started to pick up on the very young calves that had been hidden up to this point by the long grass. The very young ones were still very shy of us and would not stray far from mom's side seeking shelter between her front legs at times.

Spending nearly an hour with them we thought it best to move on if we wanted accomplish our intended route. While we had found one herd of Elephant it appeared that everyone else out on drive also found their own herd as the Northern Timbavati heaved with pachyderms and you could barely go round a corner without finding another. We stopped in at Argyle Dam and found our large Crocodile out on the bank also trying to cool himself. Nice to see him back as he has been missing the last few weeks. 

Our trip South was a hot one and baring a couple of stops to view general game we were kept from overheating by the constant breeze created through the cars motion. Stopping for a very welcome sundowner at Elephant Dam we waited for the sun to dip below the horizon before setting off to our Western boundary to test our theory. 

Hitting the tar road we turned North hopeful that our luck would continue and we would find our elusive cat. The trip was far more pleasant now that the sun was down but it was not reflected by our sightings as we only continued to pick up on big animals around water and we arrived back at the lodge empty handed. This now finds many of us with our backs against the wall for morning drive as this will be the last chance for many of our guests to see Lion. Here is holding thumbs.

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