Penny’s birthday today and I just couldn’t face not being with her. I drove through the night to arrive at dawn to surprise Penny. She’s a happy bunny to have her daddy. Happy dad too now needs to recover!
These buffalo just kept coming and coming out the woodland. It was a huge herd. Really spectacular.
At last the pups gave me a peek into their lives although it didn’t last very long.
The alpha female arrived obviously after a successful hunt around 8h30 this morning.
On arriving at the den she whined a little ways off but really quietly. I think she was a little apprehensive with that thing in the hide.
Then she got bold and walked to the den and called them out. Unfortunately she remained behind some bush, which I had left there to give her some cover.
She suckled the pups standing up and then shortly another dog regurgitated meat for them. (Not sure if it was the male or the other female. Actually we don’t even know if there are 3 adults in the pack.) That was when I got lucky and the pups came into my clearing to eat the chunks. They are just so cute these little guys. They lost their ugly look they have at about 3 weeks and are now looking more like dogs. But stocky little dogs. Nothing lean like their parents. That will only come at about 4 to 5 months.
For now they’re just cute little puppies.
Having filmed them for about 4 minutes my tape ran out and just the click of me changing tapes alerted the adults. With one bark the pups underground!
(I wasn’t able to get any photos today. This photo was taken a couple of years ago and those pups are much the same age as these little guys are now.)
Several hours later the Alpha came back to the den but then saw me through a little gap in the hide. She barked several times and didn’t come back. But at least they really do seem to be getting used to me at last. Still got a long long way to go.
Another day in my hide and another day of no filming.
The good thing is the dogs are still around and they did call the pups out while I was there but they called them around the corner into the rocks where I couldn’t see them. It looked like they were already regurgitating meat for the pups.
Then and adult gave one bark and the pups bolted back into the den. And that was them for the day.
At least the dogs did call the pups out with me there and when they saw me arriving this morning they only gave one bark and left me alone. So hopefully they’re slowly getting used to me. It’s sure going to be a long slow haul.
While sitting in the hide in the afternoon I heard a skirmish not too far off with wild dogs and a hyaena. I presume the dogs had killed and the hyaena was trying to steal the carcass. The dogs were having none of it and kept badgering the hyaena. The hyaena kept screaming as the wild dogs tormented it.
The lions roaring was more roaring stuff I hadn’t used before, shot a couple of weeks ago just after the lions had made their waterbuck kill.
I left the dogs to themselves today hoping they’ll get used to the hide. So tomorrow I’ll try my luck again.
I was out early to see if I could find the dogs hunting but it turned out I was too early as I found their tracks over mine when I went back to Manyuchi pan.
Later in the morning I got reports of a dead leopard. On investigation it turns out to be the leopard we’ve had someone working on. Her carcass was in a tree. So obviously put there by another leopard. The vet came to do a post mortem on what remained of the carcass. It had been well fed on leaving only skin and bones. The vet found puncture wounds in the skull and haemorrhaging on the one remaining front leg. She had obviously been killed, and so it must have been another leopard.
This is the 3rd such incident on Malilangwe. Why are the leopards killing each other? I really don’t think there’s an over population of them. Not sure what it could be.
With that sad news I moved down to the Chiredzi River and saw these elephants sliding down the very steep river banks to come and drink. And it’s not even 10minutes and the matriarch has them on the move again back into the woodlands to go and feed.
Also taking advantage of the river were these vultures that often come down here to sun themselves, bathe and then have to drip dry.
On leaving the river I encountered this young bull on top of the bank. He was in to showing off and gave me a headshake as I arrived, but only to them resume feeding again.
I must say it was just good to be driving across the whole property again checking out the usual sights, especially after having been so tied up with lions for so long.
I spent yesterday afternoon building my hide and before sunrise today I had it up and I was in place for action at the wild dog den.
It was a long cramped up day and although the dogs came around a few times they wouldn’t go in to suckle the pups.
After sunset I packed up, but left the hide in place. I think I’ll leave the dogs for tomorrow and give them time to get used to the hide without me.
Walking back to the car, now already almost dark, I walked into a female leopard. Luckily she gave way.
A long day of nothing but staring at this den. Not even any photographs.
The clip on the lions is from the night before last when Manyari and Magwaza met up after having lost each other during the hunt.
I really can’t get my mind around how lions work. They are so haphazard in their manners that I’m sure not even they know what’s going on.
Last night the Nyari pride headed south. They moved all the way down to Malevula hills across some really rough terrain of hardened clay pitted with deep elephant tracks.
At the hills they split seeming to be flanking some prey animals. We never saw the prey and doubt they did, but now we were one lion short. Magwaza had gone off on her own.
The rest of the pride waited and waited for her to return. Nobody even roared.
When the wind picked up the lions took off straight into it. Some distance further on they found this zebra carcass. The skin was still mostly in tact and still draped itself of the boney framework of the animal. Vultures had cleaned it up from the inside leaving nothing but the skin and bones. And the lions just weren’t interested. Realising vultures had been at it they moved on and Manyari didn’t even bother to inspect the kill.
The lions moved back down wind and waited. Where was Magwaza?
Some time later they got active again heading west. But now somehow Manyari managed to shake off the males when she went zebra hunting.
Alone she called softly and eventually Magwaza arrived. But still no sign of the males.
The girls continued west hunting.
Eventually Manyari managed to pluck a young impala from the herd.
When Magwaza arrived she was greeted with a cold reception and Manyari had no plans on sharing her carcass. But when she started feeding Magwaza took her chance and managed to sneak in on the carcass. The girls fed in relative peace without the boys around. An hour later there was little left but the bloodstains on the grass.
The males had been roaring to the east and now that the girls had finished their meal they roared back but neither party seemed in any rush to join up.
I’m going to be leaving the lions for a few weeks now, although I might bump into them occasionally, to concentrate on the wild dogs. My next plan is to get a hide up near the den and see if I have any success.
On my way south to the lions last night a huge herd of buffalo were on their way to drink at Banyini. Some panicked at the sight of my car and stampeded leaving a stunning orange dust behind them.