Day 4 and after a heavy storm during the night the morning was overcast and windy although still quite warm and in fact it stayed that was the whole day which was nice.
I was up and out early, just after 4.30am in fact and decided to take a slow drive along the N’wanetsi track.
I came across another troop of baboons spread out in the branches of a giant fig tree on the river bank that were making a hell of a racket. I figured there must of bee a leopard in the river bed below but i did not see it…on the other hand it could of just been a mamba in the tree…something was putting them on high alert though and i spent a while there until the din died down.
As i moved off a big male rhino came out of the bushes to my left and sauntered down to the river. I was a bit wary for a while as he stopped in the track just twenty metres ahead of me and gave me a good look over. He was a big buggar with a horn that must of been close to 2 feet long and probably 2 tonnes or more of solid muscle.
A further few klicks up the road i saw a couple of cars parked up and found to be watching a leopard with a kill up the tree by the side of the track. I was just in time to see the leopard come down the tree and walk off into the reeds on the river bank. He had obviously had a good feed so i did not bother to hang around for long as i figured it would sleeping it off for the next several hours at least, if not the whole day.
I had a good look at the kill and although i thought it was an impala at first, closer inspection proved it to be a wildebeest calf.
The morning was proving to be quite busy as a bit further along the way i found an oldish male lion wandering around, he seemed to be searching the small tree bushes for birds or bird nests. Shame, i figured he was well past his prime and had probably lost his pride recently to one or two younger stronger males who would of seen him off.
These are the cats that we have to be most wary of, as they lose their ability to hunt properly they will turn to humans given the chance as we are the easiest of all prey.
I was still feeling tired even though i had had some good sleep so i headed back to camp soon after that for some breakfast and a nap. It concerns me a bit, i guess it is just getting older, but i never ever used to be able to nap during the day…now i absolutely love it. Mind you, i suppose i had been playing poker for a couple of night at Monte casino before i left to come here so i should not worry too much i suppose.
After a nice bacon, mushroom and onion omelette i had a good nap for almost two hours, showered and feeling refreshed headed out again around 3pm.
Taking the singita road with a plan to follow the gudzani before creeping slowly back to camp via the n’wanetsi again i had a pleasant drive seeing plenty of game a and birds including quite a few carmine beeeaters which i was pleased about.
A large herd of buffalo were spread out over the savannah as i reached the end of the singita tar road and i sat for a while watching a couple mating. Hmm i thought to myself, i must make myself busy when i get back to jozi!!
Along the Gudzani the water was flowing quite fast and up to a foot deep on one of the river crossing and i had to laugh when i saw some couple in a big land cruiser with all the bells and whistle absolutely crap himself as he approached it from the opposite direction to me. Maybe he was new to the kruger and did not know that there was a solid base of concrete under the water but feeling a bit devilish i went straight in and stopped in the centre to take a couple of pics of a nearby hammerkop, i could see out of the corner of my eye that the driver was looking at his wife a bit sheepishly and when i left with a cheery wave i watched him in my rear mirror as he gingerly edged forward into the water.
I saw a very odd female ellie on the way back, the one tusk was pointing straight down at her toes whilst the other was almost at a 90 degree angle point out to her side. The tusks were very thin too so i guess it must be some kind of calcium defficiency from early age, it did not seem to worry her at all though physically although i am sure it probably did not do her ego any favours!
There was an abundance of snake eagles around so i assume there must of been a lot of hatchlings slithering around but i did not see any.
One often sees the impala rams fighting for possession of the breeding herds, especially at this time of year and it has been a very common occurrence for me to see them, but i came across two at this point that were truly going at it hammer and tongs. There seemed to be far more malice involved than usual and a couple of times they clashed with such ferocity they had me wincing in sympathy they were such bone shaking blows. The one was clearly coming second and after ten minutes or so he started backing off before eventually fleeing making lots of whimpering bleating noises as he went for a 100 metres before disappearing into the bush.
I drove back past the leopard kill again on my way home and found several vehicles parked up waiting for the cat to return but i did not fancy their chances. Apart from the fact there had undoubtedly been cars parked up there all day coming and going as i am sure the news of the kill would of spread around the kill the leopard would not necessarily have come back for a day or two anyway.
They are totally opportunistic killers and have been known to have two or three kills stored in different places at the same time. Most people don’t realise that after hyaenas, they are probably the most voracious eaters of rotten meat out there and providing the meat is out of reach of vultures it could be left for long periods.