|Pic Of The Day.|
( Grant, Herold, Shadrack & Andrea.)
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Old Mphisi Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Wisani Crossing.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Western Cutline.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / DeLuca – Drongo Drive.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Marula Pan.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Argyle Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Vyeboom Dam.
Leopard ( Mbali Female) / Peru – Simbavati Access.
Lion ( Mafikizolo Male & 2 x Females) / Peru – Argyle Rd.
Lion ( 2 x Sohobele Males) / Umlani – Marco's Dam.
Wilddog ( 30 pack) / Rockfig – Impala Dam.
(Grant, Herold, Shadrack, Andrea & Pete.)
Rhino ( Male & Female)
Rhino ( 2 x Males)
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter - 1st Tsharalumi Crossing.
Leopard ( Ntombi's Boy.) / Vielmieter – Western Tsharalumi.
Wilddog ( 30 x Pack) / Rockfig – Impala Dam.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Bush Braai Rd.
As if to make up for the last couple of days and bring 2012 to a magical end the animals of the Timbavati came out in full force to remind us why we do what we do. The action started nearly immediately on leaving camp and it was not long before sightings were being called in all over the reserve. Pete who was on a town trip even got in on the action and called me to let me know he had found a Leopard sitting up a Marula Tree very nearby Ingwelala Airstrip, but I'm getting ahead of myself, lets rewind to the beginning. Herold set the ball rolling, calling in a group of Dagha boys very close to Motswari camp.
He was on his way to check the North Eastern Boundary and then loop around to the West and check that boundary for any sign of Lions. We had set off North of camp to check the wedge while Andrea headed to the West and Shaddy straight South. Andrea was the next finding a breeding herd of Buffalo on our North Western boundary near Vyeboom dam. With all these Buffalo in the area you would think we would have lots of Lions about as yet another herd of Buffalo was called in in the South West and Shaddy was busy following up on his own herd in the South East hoping to find trailing Lions. If this was not enough, things were turned up a gear when Andrea found a breeding herd of Elephant very close to the Buffalo. Not to be out done the cats then got in on the action with Mbali being found on Simbavati Access. While we had a cat in the North the South matched it with our Super pack of dogs that had just killed and finished off a Impala on Kings Property. They then proceeded to trump this with Rockfig Jnr and her cub being found along with the dogs, if this was not enough they then also had another male Leopard not far away from that. To counter Herold called in that he had found one Mafikizolo male Lion and two females sitting on the Klaserie side but had good visibility from our Western boundary.
The Super Trump was then played by the South when they called in that they had two male Lions following behind yet another herd of Buffalo. With open invitations to all sightings we had to pick and choose what we wanted to go to as there was just way to much to get around to it all. We chose to stick to the North and visited Mbali and then caught a brief glimpse of the Lions on our Western boundary as they ran off to the East into our traversing area. Unfortunately something had upset them and they became mobile before we got into the sighting and with the two females being extremely shy the kept moving away from the vehicles and this would have the male following in tow. We eventually lost them as they entered into a very thick Mopane belt. Shaddy who had made his way all the way from the South East missed out so he chose to head to the far South to visit the two males on Umlani. On getting into the sighting he identified them as the two Sohobele Males, SURPRISE! I've heard of them travelling down that far South when they were younger when they struggled for food and would follow vultures to carcasses but never since they matured. It is an interesting development and we wait to see what happens. Andrea chose to head to the Dogs which looked like a bad decision at one point when they ran off onto a property we do not traverse but she received an extra Christmas gift when she was invited to follow them from Martin the lodge's manager and guide. They came to rest at a pan were by the sounds of things she had herself an amazing sighting, so a very big thank you to Martin and Rockfig Lodge, it was much appreciated. Needless to say that with all the action we were all a little late back to the lodge for breakfast.
Shortly before afternoon drive I received a message that Martin from Rockfig had invited those of us that had missed out on the Wilddogs in the morning to return in the afternoon. With new guests joining Jacky and I and the gang in the afternoon their biggest wish was to see Leopard and Wilddog. Having fulfilled our other guests wishes, except Cheetah, we thought a trip to the far South was in order. Not having much time as we had to be back around Motswari at 18h30 for a surprise sundowner to celebrate the old years night myself, Herold and Shaddy headed straight South. The once again hot afternoon played into our hands on this occasion as we did not pick up on many animals and our trip South was a quick one. No sooner had we arrived in the South though when things started to show themselves. Not far from us Ntombi's boy was found and after discussing it with Jacky we thought a small detour was in order. Getting ourselves 1st stand by and being close to the sighting we detoured to a small pan to kill time before we could approach. Rounding the corner we saw the distinctive ridge of a Rhino's back standing tall above the surrounding shrubs. It was walking along the Eastern bank of the Tsharalumi River but on approaching it, it dropped into the riverbed and crossed to the opposite bank. Making our way around we found that it had found itself a friend and now there were two Rhino feeding along the Western bank. Completely relaxed they fed about the vehicle ignoring us.
Being called into the Leopard sighting we handed over the sighting to Herold who also thought a little detour wouldn't hurt either. Making our way to the Leopard we then ran into a large herd of Buffalo who were slowly making their way to the North inside the riverbed. As we looped around them there were a great deal also on the bank, some feeding while others took a mud bath in one of the many wallows along the rivers bank. Hearing the Leopard was heading into a very tricky area we spent no time with the Buffalo and only viewed them as we drove past. Arriving at the sight we found Ntombi's cub making his way along the Nyosi riverbed and as we pulled in on the Western Bank he crossed to the Eastern bank. With no way through we had to return to the road and use the nearby crossing to get around. Pushing through the thick riverine vegetation we picked up on him quickly again and it appeared the heat had helped us again as his breathing was laboured and it looked like he was heat stressed thus he kept his movement to a slow pace taking regular breaks, eventually settling in the shade of a Guarri bush. Sitting out in the open we had ourselves a great sighting of him. With Herold close behind we once again handed over the sighting to him as we still had a long way to go and time was running out very fast.
We'd underestimated exactly how far it was and the time it would take us as we arrived a little before six. The dogs were all still resting around the pan with all the pups under one bush on the one side and the adults scattered all over the opposite bank. With it cooling off they were a little more attentive and we had a beautiful sighting of them in a very picturesque setting. This was further enhanced by the most amazing sunset that had the sky a kaleidoscope of colours. Not wanting to leave we eventually dragged ourselves away now being very late. Once again a very big thank you to Martin and Rockfig Lodge.
Our trip back North was a very rushed affair which was a pity as it was the most spectacular evening. Had we not been so late and the fact that it was getting dark we could have added Cheetah to our list, as we were in the area of where a male Cheetah was picked up heading in our direction. Resisting temptation we picked up the pace putting distance between ourselves and the spotted cat before we changed our minds. Arriving a little late, Dave would argue a lot, what's 30 minutes, we tucked into a beautiful buffet of snacks and Champagne. Resuming after drinks we bumbled around the lodge before returning to prepare for a night of festivities. It was truly a magical day in the Timbavati and it could not have brought the year to a better end. I wonder what next year has in store for us?