Greetings, and apologies for the lack of posts over the last week, but having been off drive, there wasn’t much to share from my side, but after a few days of admin work, i was ready to get going again on Sunday afternoon with my new set of guests. Having seen some of the Western Pride lions on Ingwelala close to Geiger’s Camp a couple of days ago, and having heard reports of them on a buffalo kill near our northern boundary, I decided to spend the first part of the afternoon checking the northern wedge and we started off with some dwarf mongooses, banded mongooses, and then jumped up a bit in size to a breeding herd of elephants, including a pink calf – clearly one with some form of albinism with its pink ears and skin, and opaque eyes, but he seemed to be doing well, even if we don’t think his vision is 100 percent. Following time with them, we headed towards Argyle Dam where we found another herd of elephants before making a move to the east. The “Timbavati Pride” of six have been around for the last few days, albeit in a rather inaccessible area, but Brad managed to find them in the east early in the afternoon just after they got active, and it soon turned into a rather awesome sighting for Brad and his guests after the pride crossed the Sohebele river and were relocated just after they managed to catch two warthogs!!! By the time we arrive later in the afternoon, most of the meat was done, and the females were left looking for scraps as the two young males sat with the biggest chunk of meat, neither wanting to give up his grip. Eventually the stalemate was broken and the bigger male walked off with the meat, but not after giving the smaller, younger male a bit of a hiding – just to sit and see their strength and hear the growls made up for missing the kill! With the day having passed us by, we returned to the lodge having also ticked off impala, waterbuck, kudu and hippo during the drive.
Monday morning started off quietly, but with nice general game in the form of impala, baboons, giraffe and waterbuck as we made our way towards where Ntima male leopard had been seen last night by some of the guides; we did pick up a couple of elephant bulls as well as a small herd of elephants before joining the Nhlarlami by Mbali Dam. More impala, waterbuck, hippo, elephant bulls and a herd of giraffe kept up entertained as we searched for any sign of the leopard, but sadly, none were forthcoming. Whilst watching another large herd of elephants, a radio call came in that a female leopard was seen crossing into Java, and amazingly, she was quickly identified as Inkanye female – although she has popped up on Java before, it was never so far south. We arrived as she was watching some impala, but she wasn’t showing too much interest in them and we followed her north after the impala fed away. We lost her briefly after some more impala picked up on her presence and then relocated her as she carried on walking north. As it was late, we left her too it and found a few buffalo at Java Dam before making our way back to the camp. Kevin and Henry had tracked down the six “Timbavati” lions in the east and left them static late in the morning.
My afternoon with some new guests started off bumbling in the north and I spent most of my drive there; we had a good one with impala, kudu, warthog, waterbuck and an elephant herd drinking in the Nhlaralumi. Another elephant bull and loads of impala and giraffe, as well as a couple of zebras (including one sporting a nasty bite on his neck) were around Buffalo Pan and Leadwood airstrip and kept us busy as the sun set quickly in the west. Heading to Lover’s Leap for a drink, we had more impala and a nice herd of zebras on Piva Plains before a stunning sunset at the lookout point with hippo and a crocodile for company. The “Timbavati” lions had not been relocated in the afternoon and were only seen very late in the evening; after Henry was done with them, we popped in for a view (having passed impala, zebra, wildebeest, spotted eagle owl and an African wildcat in the dark), but they were very, very inactive and after a minute or so, the two that had been awake flopped over into a slumber and didn’t stir for the rest of the sighting, so we started heading home. There was our very relaxed elephant bull with the torn ear standing feeding alongside the road, and I had no sooner commented on how relaxed he was when he started coming purposefully in our direction, only to realise he was now in musth, and he put my reversing skills to the test, clearing not being in the mood for company as he normally is! He forced is to make a 10 minute detour around the block to get home, but we made it home and in one piece! Other sightings for the afternoon were of more elephants, as well as Inkanye female leopard popping up at Java Dam to join Johannes for a drink.
So, those were my first couple of days back on drive, and with another 2,5 weeks of driving for me, you can look forward to many more updates!