The dogs haven’t returned.
It was a freezing cold night as the cloud brought in with it a cold front. Well that’s cold for us African’s. (About 10 degrees C) But being out there exposed to the cold all night, it gets right into your bones. And of course I wasn’t prepared for it. So it was a rather miserable night.
After much searching and freezing I still couldn’t find any sign of the lions. I didn’t check to the very east, which is an area they could have moved on to.
The lame buffalo cow eventually died in the early hours of the morning. It’s strange that she should have died so quickly, but maybe she had other complications.
As the ground heated up creating thermals the vultures were in the air by about 9am and were soon onto the buffalo carcass. But by midday they’d all left not having been able to penetrate the buffalo’s thick skin. They need hyaenas or lions to come and open it for them. No doubt they’ll be back.
The wild dogs are still hunting to the west of the Chiredzi river. I sure hope they come back soon.
I think this is the only known white painting on Malilangwe.
This rhino, (yes painted in white), is actually a black rhino. Did the artist purposefully paint it over the elephant so it would stand out more? Is this a more modern day painting?
(Maybe it was just someone fooling around. We hope not.)
30th April 2000
Tjololo had returned from his ventures into the untouchable lands of the government as was heading north from the southern part of his territory.
It was a happy day for us to see his friendly hyaena back with him, but not such a happy occasion for Tjololo. He rounded a corner and bumping into some impala caught one but immediately had it stolen by his ‘friend’. To add to his humiliation a second hyaena chased after Tjololo forcing him to take refuge in a tree. While the 2 hyaenas fed Tjololo could only watch from his perch.
4 or 5 times as he left the tree the one hyaena charged forcing him back up the tree.
Both hyaenas satiated, (it’s hard to believe they ever can be) rested, one lying on the carcass, the other a way off.
Tjololo left the tree and eased in closer. Next we heard a hyaena take off screaming with a lion hot on its heels. With both hyaenas fleeing and 3 young male lions after them, Tjololo raced in, stole back the carcass and treed it. A very brave move.
The lions returned to find their possible bounty high up in a tree with Tjololo guarding it. One lion climbed the tree up to the first fork, some 4m, but retreated realising it couldn’t get any further. Having lost out they all left.
Tjololo had the rest of the night and carcass to himself.
Wild dogs spring another surprise!
The Mupanigawa pack were in the Chiredzi river at dusk chilling out next to the water but daren’t cross. They’re really nervous of that flowing water and what lurks beneath.
As it got dark they ambled away from the river and up to the Binya road where they spent the rest of the night sleeping.
Early in the evening the clouds rolled in fast and furious and brought with them a little rain, then a cloud burst and then it cleared.
But at dawn the temperatures plummeted as a low cloud swept in with the wind. Really chilly.
This was just when the dogs got on the move again heading south-west. The Alpha female led the way with her very pregnant tummy.
The dogs were hunting and made several chases after impala but not with much enthusiasm. The Alpha female hanging back as she just can’t keep up with the fore runners with her big tummy.
But the dogs just didn’t have it in them this morning and kept moving towards the Chiredzi river.
They moved on into the river and following after them, I wasn’t very confident that I would get up the steep banks again and might find myself stuck in the river. I kept Barend on standby at the top of the bank.
The dogs got to the flowing water and seemed stumped yet again. They were scared of the water, and this time is was the adults standing back and the more naïve pups staring threateningly at the water.
They would stare at one spot for some time and then move on downstream. Stare again and then move on. This went on for about half a kilometre.
Then Split made her move. As casually as ever she walked into the river, only about a foot deep, as if she was about to lie down it. The rest of the pack followed and in a sudden rush of panic all crossed the river into unknown territory.
This is not a part of Malilangwe but is a protected area although it’s not that safe from people. So I worry now about the dogs.
With the Alpha female so near to pupping I hope they’ll soon be back as they often den in the same places as they’ve done before.
After much to-ing and fro-ing I eventually managed to climb out the river bank. Good old Toyota! (Hey Toyota it’s time you guys came on board)
Not being able to follow any further I headed back to Banyini to see if the lions were still in the area. There was no sign of them luckily for a lone buffalo cow. She’s in great condition and looks heavily pregnant but there’s something wrong with her back leg. Dislocated? I couldn’t make out what the problem was but she’s basically immobile. She eventually hobbled into the pan and lay down clumsily.
I doubt she’ll be able to get up again. But will be following up on her this afternoon.
That looks like a young boy carrying a number of bows and arrows.
Does the woman have something in her hand? I don’t really know what she’s doing.
29th April 2000
Early evening we found Tjololo had hoisted his kill. The hyaenas had arrived and were milling around the base of the tree searching for scraps.
Leaving Tjololo and his overgrown belly we prowled for some other action.
Near the Mala Mala airstrip we found a lioness hunting. Again we hit it lucky as she killed an impala in the open but quite a distance from us. Although I filmed it I don’t think I had enough light. Only time/processing will tell.
Tjololo had left his kill safely hung in a tree and we found him on a route march maintaining his territory. He headed south and later east into Kruger. The very boggy roads in the east made passage impossible and we were only too happy to get back to dry ground. The visions of getting stuck out there would surely have meant many many hours toiling with the jack and axe.
Having moved such a long way from his kill, we wonder if he will return. If he does we can probably expect him there tonight.