Still no joy with impala babies. Well not the impala on the Banyini. In the east they seem to have dropped earlier.
30th November 2000
Unfortunately for Dale and Richard, Tjololo didn’t perform on his last night with them. We heard him calling in the Sand river around Dudley Lookout, an area we aren’t able to get to. He didn’t seem to be going anywhere and we had to abandon the chance for them to say a last goodbye.
With the hyaena den was also inactive we headed back to camp.
It was back to staring through binoculars at impala’s bums again. I could swear several of them were about to drop any minute, but no such luck. On several females I could see the foetus pushing up against their tails. Was this not a sure sign that they should drop? Anyway things look like they’re heating up on the impala front.
Near Chekwa pan these Red Velvet Mites were all over the place but not for long as they were already burrowing into the soft wet soil before it hardened. They will then again appear with the next good rains to run around feeding on other mites and their eggs, and also insect and snail eggs. The larvae are far more ruthless attaching themselves to arthropods and feeding on them parasitically.
With them underground I knew at least I would find the elephant in the Albizia woodlands, and luckily there they all were. Chipfongwe suddenly seems to look so much bigger at a year old now. And amazingly Mandlovu is still allowing her other youngster to suckle as well as Chipfongwe. This little female must now be about 5 years old. Will she ever stop suckling? No doubt, in the dry winter months Mandlovu with wean her.
With the cool weather and piles of fresh new food there were youngsters sparring all over the place. The adults weren’t letting their guard down although they did seem keen to join in.
This lone Grysbok was resting when the elephant came barging through and she didn’t know whether to take fright from them or me, so bolted anyway.
29th November 2000
Rain stopped play early in the afternoon but we were able to get out around sunset with the weather still threatening all around.
Tjololo was still at his kill and strangely the Newington female was still there too. Any approach and Tjololo growled her away.
Then the rains came again and we spent the rest of the night under cover until just before dawn when all let up. During the rain we heard a commotion and presumed Tjololo had again given his ex-lover a hiding.
By dawn Tjololo was on the move on his own heading north marking. He continued all the way north and west into the Sand river.
I was out as usual in the late afternoon looking for them lions, but was caught short when this huge storm came rolling in from the south.
I gave up on the lions and went in search of the storm not that I had to search far. The storm was coming in from the south. Lightening was striking everywhere.
The rains moved northwards and then east moving all around me dropping loads of rain on the low lying areas making sure we wouldn’t be working with the lions again tonight.
I rushed to the Malilangwe dam to see the storm passing to the east and around to the north.
Early this morning I was out with the impala again spending my morning with binoculars staring at the backside of each and every female impala I could find. Sounds rather perverted what! But still no luck with a birth.
28th November 2000
Tjololo was on the move when we found him, heading north with the Newington female following a way behind him. Whenever she got close he’d snarl her back to her place. It sure looked like the passionate days were over.
After dark we lost Tjololo careering away in the bush and finding him found he’d killed a subadult female impala. He treed it immediately and fed.
Having fed he rested up in the tree. His mistress eventually arrived having been tracking him, and climbed the tree to feed.
When both leopards had fed they left the tree. His mistress made her usual advances, which Tjololo didn’t take kindly to this time and gave her a serious hiding. There was little she could do but be submissive lying on her back. He left her and she moved off a short distance.
At daybreak both leopards were still at the carcass and still Tjololo rebuffed her.
We spent the rest of the night at the hyaena den but we never saw any activity there all night.