Thursday, 29 November 2012

28th November: And So Are These The Days Of Our Lives.

Grant's Pic Of The Day.
Chad's Pic of the Day
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack & Marka.)

Lion ( Sohobele Male) / Vielmieter – Argyle Rd.
Lion ( Maband & Xipoko Male & Mafikizolo Female) / JayDee – Khono Bobesi.
Lion ( Unknown Male) / Ingwelala – Argyle Rd.
Leopard ( Mbali) / Peru – Wilkens Way.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Peru Cutline.

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Shaddy, Grant and Marka)
19 x wild dogs – Mbali, Buffal Kill Rd
1 x lion (Mabande male) – Vielmetter, Vielmetter-Alberts Cutline
1 x leopard (Mbali female with steenbuck kill) – Peru, No Name Rd
1 x leopard (Machaton Male) – Mbali, White Syringa
3 x rhinos
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Peru, Giraffe Kill Lookout
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Mbhandzu Rd

Daily Synopsis.

Finding ourselves in the same boat as Herold and Marka the previous morning we needed to find Lions on our guests last game drive. Thankfully we were not alone and I think all the guys were on high alert for anything that resembled a Lion, Lion track or any other sign. Formulating a plan at morning coffee we all decided where we would check trying to cover all the areas so as to not leave any stone unturned. Marka was going to head North of the camp and then head to the East as he wanted to see if the Lions were following behind the herd of Buffalo who had visited the camp at around one in the morning. Shaddy chose to head to the North West and check along those boundaries before turning South. That left the Eastern boundary and the central section which Jacky and I were left. Hoping onto the central road we headed straight South, to be honest not one of my favourite roads but it has it's uses and this was one of them as anything moving East to West or vice versa we would pick up on. With the weatherman once again being wrong we found ourselves under thick grey clouds and the ever present threat of rain, neither of these being good for tracking. For the next hour the radio went dead and I actually contemplated calling one of the guys just to check it was actually working but thought against it as I thought if they had seen as little as we had there would be no need to actually have a radio let alone have it on, and it truly felt like we were the only living things out there. Reaching our Southern boundary we were about to turn to the West when out of nowhere a message was relayed that there was a young male Lion resting near a pan on our South Western Boundary. The radio suddenly sprung to life resuscitated from it's flat line as all stations from near and far responded. Luckily for us we were one of the nearest and could make our way directly to the sighting but as is our M.O we were distracted by tracks for another two large male Lions and a female. Hearing that the single male Lion was highly mobile and that there had been audio for other line very close to where we were now we thought we would check around a little before responding immediately. Checking the surrounding roads we did not find any other tracks and thought we were now close but hearing that the single Lion had now turned to the West and was heading for our traversing boundary we decided that Jacky would go on foot to follow up while I rushed to the other Lion before it crossed our boundary. After a lot of confusion as to where exactly the station with the Lion was we all lined up on the boundary road hoping to get a glimpse as it crossed over. Meanwhile during all this mayhem and on his way towards the pandemonium Marka bumped into a Maghaltini Male up on our Northern boundary and had himself a great private viewing as the big male wandered backwards and forwards clearly following a scent trail. Back at the circus the Lion arrived to a wall of jeeps which had him hesitate and then sit down in the thickest bush he could find. We pulled closer to try get a better view but with all the stations about and the pressure you could feel I felt very sorry for the Lion and decided to pull out hoping that he would just cross. I can honestly say it was the worst Lion sighting I have ever been at and am actually embarrassed to have been part of. I learnt a valuable lesson at that moment, that won't have me finding myself in that situation ever again. We did have a long enough glimpse to be able to identify him as a Sohobele Male which is very interesting as he could be the one of three that has been missing their last couple of visits. It does however put him a long way out of his normal range. Checking in with Jacky he was still on the tracks of the other three and they were heading in our direction. Joining up with Jack from Tanda Tula the two of them went about tracking while we checked around the roads in the area. With it beginning to rain we headed off for a cup of coffee in the shelter of a nearby hangar leaving Jacky and Jack to work their magic which would have to be even more powerful given the conditions. Leaving my radio on during coffee, no sooner had we brewed our beverages did we receive a message from Jacky that they had found the Lions. Leaving everything in the hangar we all hoped aboard and rushed off in his direction. Finding both Jacky and Jack on the side of the road they to joined us and directed us in the direction the Lions had run off in. Apparently they had found the tracks on top of the rain and therefore knew they were getting close this was confirmed when they found where they had been running clearly trying to move off from them. They continued to follow eventually finding them resting in amongst some bushes watching Jacky and Jack as they approached. Jacky mentioned they were calm with their presence on foot and it was only when they heard the radio the guys were carrying that the bigger male decided to charge them stopping a mere five metres away warning them to not come any closer. Obeying their instruction Jacky and Jack then contacted us and jumped aboard to relocate on the vehicle. We found them not having moved off far but with the female being shy of the vehicle she kept moving off thus pulling the larger male along with her, with a gap between the two males we decided to follow the younger one and therefore not put pressure on the others. He was relaxed around the vehicle ad went about following a scent that they all seemed to be following. While he was walking we noticed he was limping and it looks like he has injured his left front paw as well as having open grazes and scratches on his neck behind his mane. One can only surmise what happened but could it be possible he ran into the Sohobele Males and if so where are the others or is it the solitary male that we initially thought about? Could it be his companion that inflicted the injuries or did they have a run in with other Lions in the region. The questions are endless as are the answers multiple and it will only be time that will provide us with the true story. With him coming to rest in a thicket we took our leave and headed back to fetch our things in the hangar before heading full steam for the lodge, yet again very late.

I'll be handing over the blog to Chad this afternoon so hopefully he will be able to add a chapter or two to the story. Thank you for all the support and comments, it has been good fun and we will catch you all again soon.



Ha ha, as usual I have missed out on another cracking week of game viewing, and between Grant and Andrea’s photos, they turned me a shade or two greener with envy!  It was thus great to get back to work and almost straight back out onto drive, and what a perfect set-up, lion and leopard just waiting for us! 

It was also really great that the first thing my guests asked to see was leopard and wild dog – and as I had just received word that the dogs had been seen at Mbali Dam wall in the morning by the construction workers, it seemed like I might just be able to accomplish both requests before our sundowner!

Moving in the direction of Mbali and what little remained of her kill, we began with a lovely giraffe and calf on the airstrip, and proceeded to see some more giraffe, steenbuck and impala as we ambled along in glorious sunlight.

Giraffe and calf

Arriving at where Mbali had been left about 45 minutes earlier, she was gone, but a glance up saw her perched up in a marula tree feeding on the legs of the steenbuck – all that remained of her kill since yesterday!

Mbali eating her steenbuck in a tree

A hyena arrived and plopped down in the grass nearby, but stupidly didn’t come to the tree, as if it had, it would have found a leg that had fallen off earlier, but Mbali was lucky, and after finishing up in the tree, jumped down and retrieved the last scrap before eating it on the ground with the hyena paying no attention at all to her or her missed snack!

Grant had been having a wonderful afternoon, and on his guest’s 27th drive, had little left to show them, so took what came – for him it started out with a big herd of elephants in the Nhlaralumi riverbed, and while watching them, they spotted the wild dogs chasing impalas on the opposite bank of the river, but sadly struggled o relocate – so I headed into the area to assist, but after almost an hour and only giraffe, impala and waterbuck later, we gave up and went for a drink – as did Grant.  While we were joined by a giraffe, he was joined by three rhinos!

We got to see the rhinos after dark, and while it is against policy to view them with them with a spotlight, the moon was bright enough that even in the darkness we could see them well – they were rhinos I was unfamiliar with, but very relaxed!

Heading home, we added a herd of elephants in the moonlight to the list, while Grant added Machaton male leopard!  Guess he had the magic touch this afternoon...I hope it has something to do with being on blog duty, as I could definitely use some of that magic tomorrow!