I will begin this blog by saying this; Terry and Kirsty, if you are reading this, don’t look at all of the photos from the morning drive.
It was inevitable that with some of my guests leaving early, and our rhino search having proved fruitless the last few days, that some would show up during the course of the morning, and so it was that rather early on in the game drive, a couple of them were found which drew a fair amount of attention from the guides. I had no real mission, but had decided to check the eastern sections again, and whilst enjoying a lovely start to the morning, we ticked off impala and hippo before picking up on some wild dog tracks; as it had been some of my guests requests on the first day – and with them being my favourite animals – I decided to spend some time checking the area. It was however proving to be like looking for some very active needles in a very large haystack, and without anyone else to assist in the search, it was not an easy task. Having checked the areas that I thought the pack might head to, we picked up tracks for the Sumatra lioness and decided to follow for a while as they headed straight back north towards the Sohebele, and it was then that we had the stroke of luck that we needed; as we descended into a large drainage line, a wild dog popped into view…and then another…and then another! We had found them! It proved to be a portion of the Orpen Pack from Kruger; a pack that hadn’t visited us since 1st January 2016, and it certainly appears as though they have split, as rather than being 20-plus dogs, they were now running around as eight adults. Still, it was seven more wild dogs than I saw last month, so I was quite delighted! We spent then next hour watching them on our own, and they treated us to a wonderful sighting as they went in search of food; they found a mere morsel in the form of a scrub hare that they quickly dispatched of. Attempts at a steenbuck and two impala herds had no luck, and coming up against an angry warthog mother trying to defend her two piglets that shot off like a bullet was never going to provide for a meal – still, it made for cracking viewing, and after having our share of them, we left them running off into the bush and carried on to see if we could see the rhinos. We did pass a well fed hyena, some kudu, impala and a wildebeest before arriving at the sight of a couple of groups of rhinos that had gathered around the very same waterhole I had been searching for them yesterday. A day late for my other guests, but it was a great way to end off the trip for the others. Brad found Duma and Ross male lions near Argyle Dam, and there were quite a lot of elephants in the north this morning too.
In the afternoon, I had a new set of guests including some return guests, as well as some guests just visiting us for one night. As we headed out, I was asked if the dark clouds overhead would bring rain, and I confidently told the guests that there as a zero preteen chance of rain. After some impala we came across some elephant bulls and a small herd of elephants feeding in the mopane thickets as I made my way east to see if we could relocate the wild dogs from the morning. The zero percent chance of rain very quickly turned into a 100 percent chance as the heavens opened above us and left us rather drenched as 5mm of rain fell on us! We tried to get around it, but it soon stopped and we carried on with the drive, using the air to dry us off; luckily, it had been a hot day, so the coolness of the rain was quite welcome. What wasn’t as welcome was the wind that was now accompanying the weather, but we pushed on and found some wildebeest that seemed to have been invigorated by the little down pour. We saw hippo and impala, mongooses and steenbuck as we went in search of the wild dogs, but there was no sign of them coming out of the block. We tried the pans and waterholes, but still came up empty handed bar a large herd of impalas alarm calling at a predator that we failed to see; perhaps it was just the wind messing with their senses? Difference suggested we went back to where we had left the wild dogs, and as we were circling that area, we found the pack huddled up deep within a mopane thicket to shelter from the wind; they weren’t going anywhere this afternoon in this weather, and with the light having all but gone, we decided to leave them to rest and make a turn past the two male lions closer to camp; if the weather held off. We didn’t have much luck as we headed back north-west, and sadly, that carried on as we arrived in the area that the lions had been left, and they were no where to be seen; we spent quite a while watching the lightning flash around us, but there was no stirring of the males that I am sure had also just moved into a thicket along the banks of Argyle Dam, and weren’t coming out. With a few drops falling, we made our way back to camp past impala and waterbuck before closing at the lodge, still wet from the earlier downpour!