I had the most wonderful day! Even though temperatures were raging over 100F, and that’s in the shade.
It started off with seeing the wild dogs again! Although the encounter was brief. The Alpha male and all 9 pups were milling around at Nhoro pan. This must have been the first time the pups had seen a vehicle up close and were of course really curious.
They’re all in great shape and well fed. They must now be just over 3 months old and not den bound any more. So who knows how far they’re travelling.
They didn’t stick around for long. When mom arrived they left heading south into impenetrable thickets from which they never reappeared.
I checked the area again in the afternoon but no sign of them.
This is the area the adults have been seen a couple of times over the last few weeks, so hopefully they’ll still hang around here for some time.
Ideally I need them to rest up Khayeni pan, not far away. It’s really open around there and with these hot temperatures it’s quite likely they will rest up at the water. This will give us a chance to dart one of the adults and get a collar on.
Having lost the dogs early in the morning, I thought they might be headed to Sosigi dam. They never arrived but there was lots of other activity at the dam.
The pair of Egyptian Geese had their little 3 day old goslings in the dam with them while a Hammerkop hovered over the water, in a very atypical fishing method for these birds. But they were successful in catching platanas (frogs).
All the while herds of zebra, impala and giraffe came in to drink.
Then a herd of about 150buffalo. They took over the dam while they drank and wallowed. And then stayed on the open area around the dam, grazing.
I only got to leave there around midday when I went to check on the management burns. I got to Hwata at the same time as the fire and a couple of elephant bulls were bathing, but moved off at the sound of the roaring fire.
Before heading back to look for the wild dogs I spent some time on Banyini with a group of 3 Ground Hornbills. I just love these birds and more especially as they will be my next film. So I spent time with them today getting them used to the vehicle. But they’re going to need a lot more of that, although they weren’t too bad. They were taking strain in the heat with their feathers all ruffled getting the breeze to blow through them.
It was a rather boring morning for me running around town sorting out a few things.
By midday I was back and went jogging with temperatures sitting around 38 degrees C (100F). Luckily this is a dry heat and not too bad at all. Actually I love it.
With these hot temperatures and the air being dry and windy, it was ideal for controlled burns on Malilangwe where fire is used as a management tool to control the growth of woody vegetation.
I spent my afternoon following the fires and filming. Fortunately I didn’t find any animals in the fires, but then they are wise to bush fires as they’ve been part of the ecosystem for hundreds of years, ever since man has been around.
I found some good violent stuff and was filming away when I suddenly realised I was surrounded by fire as the wind changed and it came charging down on me like a steam train! To add to the drama, my car spluttered and burped and then finally started and I just made it out of there.
As the afternoon cooled and the wind died down so the fire died down and I was winding down too on my way home.
Passing Banyini, Manyari was there with her Nyari pride. They were really feeling the heat and didn’t budge to even chase the hundreds of flies digging around their nostrils.
AND Magwaza is mating again.
I sure got around today trying to get in touch with everything as the days are now really hot and most activity is to be found around the waterholes. But the elephant stayed away till after dark except for a couple of bulls drinking at Hwata pan in the heat of the day.
Early morning and late afternoon had me searching for any signs of the dogs. Again I came up short.
In the afternoon I took a walk to Sosigi hill from Nhoro pan walking through really dense bush and half the time walking bent over to get through narrow pathways in the thick bush. Luckily I didn’t encounter any beasts using the same paths as me coming the other way. It’s really dense in there and I hoped by chance if the dogs did have a den there I’d bump into it. But it was just more bush after bush.
Driving through the hills the Ochna bushes are in full flower at the moment. The flowers only last a few days but they litter the rocky floors adding magical colour.
I was nearly home when I saw all these, and more, vultures perched in trees. I didn’t search much in the area as the vultures might just be roosting communally or if there is a kill they’ll be waiting it out and at dawn I should know what’s happening. Till tomorrow….
It was only as the sun was setting that I realised I hadn’t filmed anything all day. And all that was left to film was another African sunset.
Well the lions didn’t roar me to sleep but they did wake me at dawn. They were somewhere in the hills that I couldn’t get to.
I’m happy to be safely back here after a rather stressful drive. Doing this drive in the daytime is just fine, but once it’s dark it takes on a whole new agenda. These main roads are narrow. Only one lane each way and without any shoulder on either side. Really narrow. So when passing huge trucks you feel like you have to squeeze yourself to the side of the road, at the same time being sure not to drop off.
And if that’s not bad enough, you have to contend with livestock that wander across the roads. Mainly cattle and donkeys and you just don’t see them till the last minute. Of course if there’s an oncoming car, you see even less. Pretty scary stuff.
Luckily when I encountered a donkey on the road there was no oncoming traffic. Even so I saw it at the last minute and had to swerve at high speed to try and miss it. It was plumb in the middle of the road when I first saw it and luckily moving, just in time to give me enough gap to get past. Although I think I hit its tail.
Now there was an adrenalin rush! Something I haven’t had in ages in the bush.
Just goes to show the bush is a safer place than being out there travelling.
Today was very hazy and very humid, but it soon warmed up and bye bye any moisture.
With the hot dry weather the Tamboti trees are dropping leaf, which the nyala and impala are feasting on. These trees are very poisonous to man but the antelope just love the leaves.
I was heading back home towards dusk when I saw plenty of elephants crossing the airstrip on their way to Simbiri dam. The sun was still up but the elephant timed it just right (I don’t what it’s right for), like they always do, that they get to the dam after the sun has set and there’s not enough light for me to film. I’m sure they do it just to be mean to me.
But as the herds came out the woodlands towards the dam, they filed towards and past me. And they just kept coming and moving on. But when Mandlovu, Chip and their family got to the car, they stopped as I spoke them, sniffed the car for a couple of minutes and moved on with the herds.
It was just magical! Had they come to say ‘hello – where’ve you been all this time?’ Whatever it was, it sure was the most magical greeting and reminded me why I so love it out here. I didn’t get any such greeting when in town the last few days. Well, I lie, my daughters went wild and we had the most lovely time.
This guy came tearing out the woodland charging towards me, but he soon lost his courage and came to a grinding halt in a cloud of dust. Just boys being boys.
I’m just about to head off on my 11hour journey back to Zimbabwe and back to the bush! Yes I’ll be home soon listening to lions roaring and hyaenas whooping as I drift off to sleep tonight.
This elephant bull at Bandama pan was being a typical cocky and selfish young boy. He wasn’t keen on sharing his waterhole with anybody, especially as it seemed they had the best water. Wildebeest, zebra and impala weren’t spared as he sent them packing. They obviously aware of his antics, just went to drink on the other side of the pan. No doubt frustrating the dude even more.
When the water level at Banyini pan gets low the clover type plant that grows abundantly on the water surface, now becomes accessible to the baboon troop.
In the dry parched landscape, Banyini is a little oasis and with the water level down the baboon are then able to get to the island in the middle of the pan that is a solid cover of this clover plant.
Although it doesn’t provide much nutrition to the baboons, it does help fill those empty tummies and like any fresh salad has to be refreshing when feeding out in the dry lands all day.
The babies hanging on to their mom’s tummies aren’t too sure about this change of scenery where they end up hanging over water. It’s a whole new world for them and they reach down keen to test it out, but never letting go of mom.
The slightly bigger braver babies use mom to move them around the island, jumping off onto more stable land masses to feed and the back onto mom to the next ‘dry’ land.
The troop spend about an hour here before moving on.