February 25, 2011

Chased to chasing

With a new group in the lodge and all here on an incentive trip we had lots to look forward to. Most of the guests South African and most of them the first time to a private reserve. We hit the road looking to see if we could find little bush female and her cub that had been with their kill that morning however the leopards had gone and we had to change the game plan. 

We found 2 separate mother rhinos with young babies, the one was no older than a week and, as can be expected, mom was not going to stick around and wait for us. We bumbled around looking at general game, birds and insects before we headed to where the lions were relaxing.

When we got there they were relaxed and waiting for cover of darkness to begin their hunt. However their sleep was rudely interrupted by a male rhino that decided to chase them around a bush before moving off.

This morning started with lion tracks, hyenas and jackals and this all led us to believe that the lionesses had made a kill very close to camp. After a bit of searching and following the hyena around we found them on the kill with the two cubs feeding away. This is great news as the cubs are looking seriously malnourished and we could see how hungry they were by the way the were getting stuck into the remains of the kill.

After the lions we enjoyed the wonders of the small world, buffalo and plenty general game before stopping for coffee and walking back to the lodge.

February 24, 2011

Site inspection

Now the key to getting new new guests into the lodge is to look after the agents that will be sending the guests in the first place. These are what we call site inspections and are of the utmost importance to ensure that we remain at the top of the game. At Little Bush Camp we don't get too many of these but yesterday was one of those times. The other thing about site inspections is that they normally only stay for a night so we really have to pull the rabbit out of the hat to sell the lodge. 

With a massive storm on the way we set off to impress the ladies and keep a big smile on the faces of Peter and Ornella. Our goal was to find the lions from the morning as we had a pretty good idea where they were. It turned out that the lions had headed off on the hunt and had already crossed over to the northern section of the reserve. After closing off the block into which their track had led myself and Brett headed into the bush on foot to find the lionesses. We hadn't walked 200 metres before finding them just other side of the drainage line. That meant that we had successfully tracked the lions twice that day. This is a great achievement by any standards and the guests were all overwhelmed by our success.

When we got to the lions with the vehicle we could see that they had caught and eaten something already and were now doing some well earned digesting. We left the ladies and headed back towards the lodge as the rain had started and I didnt want to be too far away in case the guests called it quits or the lightening forced us to go back. Along the way we bumped into a herd of elephants, one of which decided to have a mud bath in the puddle five metres in from of the vehicle and poor Solly ended up having just as much of a bath as the elephant. Fortunately he was wearing a poncho but this left us all having a good chuckle...

Brett then found the little bush female with a kill and when we got there she was highly agitated. This is not uncommon for her as she can be temperamental at the best of times. She gave a half charge as we approached before climbing into the tree with her kill, bearing her teeth at us and hissing. Unfortunately due to the rain I had left my camera at home and missed a great photo opportunity. A rhino had also waddled into the l oc and this just topped a ridiculous afternoon with the big game. We decided to call it quits after leaving the rhino and head back to have a shower and warm up.

This morning got off to early start and we hit the road at 5.30 as the guests were all leaving early to get back home. Our first order of business was to go see what was happening with the Little Bush Female. We were not the only curious eyes there as we joined two hyena that were hoping for some scraps. Little bush was perched on one of the low lying branches and was posing...this does not happen often!!! She also had her six month old cub in the tree and this was only my second time to see her. The first was nearly five months ago when she was still tiny. We didnt get the best view of her but I did manage to get one good facial shot which will be sent to the guys doing the leopard genealogy of the Sabi Sands.

The rest oft the morning was filled with rhinos, zebra, kudu, impala and duiker as well as looking at some of the smaller stuff. Definitely a crammed 2 drives with amazing sightings that will hopefully bring us lots of business in the future.

February 23, 2011

Quality time

The bush amazes me to no end...the minute you just slow down to take it all in the bush just rewards your patience with the most amazing sightings. The moment you start chasing it all breaks down and you end up missing everything. My guests at the moment have spent a few days in another lodge before coming through and had seen quite a bit which has just allowed us the freedom to spend quality time with the animals we find. 

Yesterday afternoon was no different as we found an ENORMOUS elephant bull feeding under a marula tree, enjoying the delights that had dropped to the grass below. He was so relaxed he ended up feeding no more than 3 metres from us at one stage and walked passed the car so close that I could have touched him. I would never let this happen normally but by that stage it was to late to move as the sound of the engine starting might have startled him. 

We watched him for a good thirty minutes before moving off to see how our leopard was doing with the warthog that he caught yesterday. By the time we got there he was just finishing the skull...yes, the skull...by my mate Trevor's accounts he had devoured the entire skull and all that was left was the lower jaw. The night was finished off with an amazing sunset and view of the Drakensberg mountain range.

This morning we headed south to have some coffee down at the Sabi river and see if the lions had crossed back from the next door property. Coffee was brilliant as we had a very introspective bit of time just listening the sound of the river flowing and the birds calling. Unfortunately all signs pointed to the fact that the lions had not come back yet and I took a nice drive through some of the beautiful scenery that the southern section has to offer on the way back to the lodge. Before I knew it we were on fresh lion tracks and it looked as if the cubs were with the females. After following for a short while the tracks led into the bush and we headed around to where we thought they might pop out. We got the calculation just right and the lions were out on an open sodic site with the cubs. The cubs are however looking very skinny and are in need of a good meal otherwise there will be some tears flowing...lets just hope that everything works out for them.