My apologies for my absence from the blog, but for the last few days, I have been driving some photographers and with my front seat occupied by my guest, there was no space for my camera – thus not a great deal to share. However, if I am honest, even if I did have my camera with me, I am not sure how great the blogs would have been, as the bush has been tough on us the last few days, with game viewing being a bit of a struggle to say the least.
A rather frustrating element was the number of skittish leopards found during the week; one day saw four different leopards found, but three of them were skittish and ran off, and the only relaxed individual crossed the western boundary and disappeared into the Klaserie. This was a particularly problematic scenario for me, as one of the main reasons that my guests were here were for the leopards; failing that, anything in golden light would have worked for them, but the animals just were not playing along! Things eventually picked up towards the end of the week and whilst heading south to follow up on tracks for Nthombi female leopard, we came across a drag mark for where a leopard had lost its kill to hyenas, but he wasn’t giving up, and his tracks pursued the drag mark that eventually led us to finding Mondzweni male leopard with his reclaimed male impala kill hoisted up a marula tree; he provided for two days worth of sightings, but Ntima male, Madzinyo male and Nthombi female also showed up over that same time period. One evening Brad wasn’t have such bad luck with leopards, and for the third drive in a row he found his won leopards – this time they didn’t run; first he found Shongile’s daughter stalking impala into a thicket, so he left her to it and a few minutes later bumped into Inkanye female walking around patrolling her territory.
On the lion front, it felt like the old days of checking boundaries to see when our lions would come back; Kevin found the two Machimba male lions in the east one afternoon, but they were in a bad mood and gave him a proper revving! A few guides got to see them when they settled down, and then later in the week the two males were found following the two relaxed Ross lionesses – interesting as the last time we saw these females they were with the Sumatra males. The lone Sumatra lioness is looking very pregnant and was found following behind a herd of buffalo (the first herd in the area in weeks!) the day they returned to the area. The Western Pride were heard calling near the lodge one morning, but annoyingly the roars were coming from just inside Ingwelala, and although they came out of the riverbed and into view for a short period, they walked along the boundary before moving back to Ingwelala. The next morning their tracks had headed south into our area, but turned around and moved back north – we actually caught up with the whole pride on the tarred road that morning; first a male that walked off into Ingwelala searching for them, and this was followed by the lioness and the three 4-5 month old cubs that were a delight to watch, even if they were walking on the tar road! Not far ahead of these four lions, the remaining eight members of the pride were on a mission following behind tracks for a buffalo herd and off into Ntsiri. Lets hope that these buffalos drag them into our area in the near future, with the cubs in tow! Duma male pitched up for a brief drink before going back west.
The last two days saw the Investec pack of seven wild dogs return from the Kruger, and they were seen searching around a number of termite mounds for a den site for the heavily pregnant female; fingers crossed that they chose to make the east their preferred denning site this year! There was no sign of the pack of 11 from last year.
Elephant herds and bulls were relatively good across the central, northern and southern sections this week, but little to speak of in the east. Buffalos made a reappearance in the form of buffalo bulls and one herd of about 50-60 individuals that was walking around the central regions towards the end of the week. Rhino viewing was also up this week.
General game was not that great, but with some dedication one could find the giraffe and zebra herds in the central an northern sections, and the activity in the vicinity of the large dams was fairly decent; the east however (despite the grass and water) is a very quiet patch at the moment.
I will be back on drive from Sunday, so you can keep a look out for some new blog posts then.