Elephant Encounters

Trip Start Dec 25, 2009
Trip End Dec 14, 2010

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Flag of South Africa  , Limpopo,
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yesterday was the first proper game drive in a while and it was a great one at that. We went up all the way to the north of Makalali into Pidua North to find the elephant herds that hadn't been seen for about 2 weeks. We drove around and around trying to find them using the telemetry but they seemed to be illuding us... the we randomly came across the two uncollared cheetah brothers, Babelo and Lesedi, in the road. Nice! We stayed with them for a while until they got scared off by the tractors being used for road maintenance up there.
So off we went to keep trying to find the ellies. We were on Burchell's Loop when we turned off and then realised we weren't where we thought we were but then we found a spot we thought would bring us back but as we turned one of the other volunteers spotted an elephant up ahead. Again - nice!
We moved up to watch them and were enjoying the tranqullity (you'd understand if you'd ever spent time with elephants it's automatically tranquil if they're relaxed...) and then this bull (later ID'd as possibly Splay) comes up behind us and smells us before heading off again. Sweet! Then not a mintue later, another bull comes up (this time Hot Stuff) and properly comes right up to the vehicle - his head less than 5cm away making him about a metre away from me with nothing but an empty back row between him and me. It was totally awesome. Then he passed and a younger one cam up too but not too near the vehicle but still reasonably close for, lets say, new volunteer standards, haha. Then we moved forward a bit to follow the herd and this female was eating near the road - she too came up to the vehicle and smelled us out before staying and eating about a metre away again. It was an awesome sighting. We decided to follow them to water but "Slowpoke" as we dubbed her, wouldn't move so, given it was heating up (I even got my first sunburn of the season!) we started heading back to Twines.
Just as we arrived back at camp, M calls us up and is all "we have lion at Toma Dam" so we trundled up there to have a look. It turns out it was Xinpoko and Zingela together, possibly starting their 'honeymoon period'. (Xinpoko was one of the suspects in the Kalahari incident, Zingela one of the lioness from the Zimbabwean pride and is the sister to Tumbelela who we think mated with Kalahari before he died) We got a great sighting of the two of them, no "action" but still very cool and we'll be keeping a close eye on them, if not just to find out what exactly Xinpoko is going to get up to these days!
The afternoon was all about lion IDs for me, sorting photos and then completing Xinpoko's new ID kit while it was still fresh in my mind.
Today we did some alien plant removal before trying to find some lions but, aside from find tracks (cheetah tracks too!), we didn't get them. This afternoon maybe then tomorrow is another study day.
Bring it on!
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