|Pic Of The Day.|
( Grant, Herold, Shadrack & Pete.)
Lion ( 2 x Sohobele Males) / Kings – Ridge Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Nyosi River Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Wild West.
Rhino ( 4 x Crash)
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Elephant Dam Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Hangar Rd.
Leopard ( Umfana Male) / Vielmieter – Nkhoro Rd.
( Grant, Herold, Shadrack, Pete & Chad.)
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd West.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Lower River Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Argyle Rd.
Leopard ( Umfana Male) / Vielmieter – Nkhoro Rd.
Leopard ( Machaton Male) / Mbali – Antheap Corner Rd.
Leopard ( Rockfig Jnr Female) / Kings – Double Highway.
Rhino ( Male)
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Western Tsharalumi.
Elephant ( Kambakus) / Motswari – Airstrip Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / DeLuca – DeLuca Access.
Elephant ( Kambakus) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Lion ( 2 x Sohobele Males) / Kings – Ridge Rd.
Waking to somewhat different weather to the past week we had clouded skies and high winds. Not ideal game viewing conditions but of late the trends have been a shifting and we set off on morning drive hopeful. Jacky and I decided we would check the central section once again giving the Cheetah a third chance to make itself shown. Shortly after setting off we received an invitation from Kings Camp to visit the two Sohobele Males who they had found very near their camp. Kindly accepting their invitation we all stuck to our original plans and would visit them later in the morning after checking on our areas. Making our way along the Tsharalumi River through Mbali and onto Java we found lots of Waterbuck but not much else. We did find tracks for two Rhino heading to the South but only half heartedly followed up on as the tracks looked from very early evening and they could have walked a great distance between then and now. Finding where they had defecated confirmed our suspicions as the dung was completely broken down by dung beetles and they weren't even present any more. Resuming our Cheetah search we checked on areas that we thought it would pass through but found no signs or tracks for it. I think we can now safely say it has moved on and was 2012 departing gift. Heading out to the West Jacky and I responded to a herd of Elephant that was found feeding along the Nyosi River. Notorious for it's tough, thick terrain we did not hold our breath on it being a great sighting. Arriving in the area where they had been we found they had moved on but it was not long before we could hear the trumpeting of the herd and following the sound we located them. Something had got them all excited as we arrived to find them running South ears spread out, tail up and trumpeting. We tried to follow them and see what predator had them upset but ran into a problem when they crossed the Nyosi riverbed. Not finding a way across we had to return back to the road and make our way the long way around. Along the way Jacky picked up on fresh Leopard tracks which also had a set of Hyena tracks following behind. We now believed it was either a Leopard or a Hyena that had the Elephant up in trunks, or maybe both. Getting ourselves onto the opposite bank the Elephant had stopped trumpeting and we only managed to relocate the herd through a straggle that we picked up on and by following his general direction we found the rest of the herd regrouped and now feeding, clearly satisfied that they had chased whatever it was far enough away and that it was no longer a threat. With the terrain as thick as it was the Elephant sighting was a challenge in itself and we gave up any thoughts of trying to find whatever had unsettled them as it would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
With the adrenalin pumping we decided to stop for coffee and let things settle a little before heading further South to visit the Sohobele's. Resuming after coffee we found that everyone had visited the Lions and we could make our way straight in. Finding them resting next to a small bush one of the males was sitting up nicely for us. They both looked in great condition and clearly had had themselves a meal as their belly's were swollen to capacity. They have being following a herd of Buffalo for the past few days and maybe they finally got themselves a young one. They have become specialists at picking off younger Buffalo and when we tend to see them it is always when a herd of Buffalo move into the area. On this occasion a herd of Buffalo were once again not far away South East of Elephant Dam. We sat with them a while but when they both dropped heads and fell asleep for the afternoon we took our leave.
While we were on drinks Umfana Male Leopard was found a little North of Elephant Dam. He had made himself a baby Impala kill but when we visited we found him sitting in a very thick shrub and only his eyes and the spots on his head were visible. Sitting with him patiently we waited hoping that he would choose to move to his kill or even better for water at Elephant Dam. What happened next we did not expect, after about ten minutes of sitting with him, we heard a grunt/ growl and immediately we knew what was to follow with him standing tall and charging out a metre of the bush growling deeply. Telling my guests to remain calm and not look directly into his eyes he settled quickly and then as if nothing had happened walked in front of the car and within two metres of Jacky not giving him a second look. He then proceeded to walk around inspecting all the large trees in the vicinity. He did not mark them and I suspect he is looking for a suitable place to hoist his kill as the position it is in presently has no suitable trees. After his inspection tour he turned and headed back in the direction of his kill at this point we took our leave and hopefully he will settle and feel more relaxed in the afternoon.
Having spent considerable time trying to find one of our requests, Cheetah, we decided we'd give our final request a go on afternoon drive. We'd chosen Cheetah because it was the easier of the two and not having seen the final request since working here in the Timbavati, it was going to be a tall order. The only signs we have seen for Black Rhino have been out on the East where they tend to cross our boundary from Kruger during the night visit one of the nearby dams and then head straight back out. There was also signs of a midden beginning to form but this was more active during the dry winter months than now in the wet summer months where water is available readily. The beauty of the bush is you never know so we increased our odds and headed off to the Eastern boundary. We first quickly tracked down a herd of Buffalo close to Motswari so at least we'd see one thing in the afternoon.
Heading out East we picked up on a huge Kambaku who we also spent some time with and having now had two good sightings it would not matter if we saw nothing again.
Reaching the Eastern boundary we found that the road had been dragged. This must have happened in the morning as there were no tracks of any kind on it. On the positive side if we did find tracks at least we'd know they were extremely fresh. Undeterred we continued South along the boundary visiting the said dam that it occasional visits but we were to find nothing, well not exactly we did find ourselves a Chameleon.
With time on our hands and hearing that Machaton Male had been found near his kill and allowing himself to be viewed we decided to head in his direction. Arriving at the sighting we found the spot easily enough and then the kill but he was nowhere to be seen. Checking with Shaddy who had just been with him and getting his exact lock we checked the area again but found nothing at all. Returning once more to the kill we edged a little forward towards a nearby thicket. Suddenly Jacky's hand raised quickly indicating for me to stop and then it signalled for me to reverse. At first I thought he had seen a log that he did not want me to drive over but getting back a little he turned and told me that he had Machaton Male sitting in the grass practically at his feet. Manoeuvring around we found a gap where we could see him from, sitting with him a short while we again tried to position ourselves but he moved off around the bush. With an open clearing on the opposite side and more space we tried to get around but arriving in the clearing he moved back to his original position. This was ok as we now had a better position to approach from which would give him more space and hopefully he would settle. Making our way around he seemed settled and lay in his position. Switching off we settled in to sit patiently with him, at first he was very settled but after a while he became agitated and the best form of defence is attack so he charged out at us stopping within a couple of metres growling deeply. I'm not sure if it was to many eye's on him, that we had small children on board or that he felt he needed to be defensive of his kill but he would not back down and stood his ground growling. Having experienced it in the morning my guests knew exactly how to react and with them all sitting very still and not staring at him he soon relaxed and returned to his position. With a window of opportunity we decided it was best that we took it and pulled out the sighting leaving him to his meal. With the adrenalin once again pumping we headed off to a great spot for sundowners in the Tsharalumi Riverbed.
Returning to drive after dark we had a uneventful drive compared to what had proceeded the break. The rest of the guys had headed South and as you can see from the sighting list above they had themselves a very busy afternoon, Pete being the best of the lot finding three of the Big 5 himself and visiting the missing two to have himself a “ Big Five” drive, not bad for his guests first drive. Maybe he'll find us Cheetah and Black Rhino tomorrow morning on my guests last drive. On that note I'll be handing over blogging duties to Chad who has recently returned from leave bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to bring you all his adventures. It has been fun bring you all the stories over the festive period and once again I wish you all the best for 2013. Thank you for all the support and may we be able to share many more stories with you personally during the upcoming year.