Time is positively steamrolling on to new years eve. All resolutions get placed on the table, most of which, fall to the ground with no more than a sigh of a relief. Out in the wild the only resolution is survival and reproduction. For us, maybe we should reproduce all the positive things we have developed in our lives in the next generation.
After the thought of the day, the early morning greeted me with bursts of short showers of rain. That, of course, was not a deterrent as I had my mind set on the wild dogs. Those dudes were too swift and I couldn’t even get a smidgen of signal on them. I continued to explore the Northern region of the reserve finding a breeding herd of Buffalo. The vegetation is so lush they looked like a herd of cows lying and rolling around in a meadow.
I went a long way through the hills before I found any sign of life, it was a much cooler day so the need for animals to water was not so urgent. After being spied on by an elephant in the bushes as I was changing a flat, I moved on to see a few waterbuck heading down to Malilangwe dam and decided to complete my inspection of the dam level.
Again, even the waterbuck seem to be a little more docile than usual. A herd of Impala were lying on the side of the road, they hardly moved and I was noticing how the little babies are not so little anymore – they are growing up fast.
This morning I was interested in checking up on how the dams were filling up. I was also hoping to find some Elephants during the process, but instead we ran into two separate herds of Buffalo.
I’m convinced that most species of animals are a lot more relaxed after the rains. One can really get in there amongst the animals and this was also the case with these two Buffalo herds. The sun was beating down again through a few clouds and the Buffalo were enjoying the dams that are filling up. The grazing is flourishing so now is the time to fatten up.
I found signal on Manyari, but she is still tucked away in the hills and I was unable to get to her. I carried on down to Malilangwe dam and almost drove past a huge pod of Hippos. They are quite inquisitive creatures and moved over to where we were parked; there was much activity with plenty of little guys ducking and diving as they were swimming through the water.
Once again, the cloud covered the sky a little later in the afternoon and rain was threatening, but I still dashed to find the wild dogs. I wasn’t able to get to them, but I managed to get a location for an early morning start – something to look forward to.
Straight from the Mozambique coast into the wild Malilangwe bush is not a bad hand to be dealt! Just a day ago, I was deep sea fishing and experiencing a miraculous recovery from sea sickness – after the thought of the “bullet” being the only cure.
Well, back in a flash and being left with a clue as to where to find the Wild Dogs, I was hot on their trail early this morning. The pups had picked a grand spot on an island in the middle of a natural pan that has sprung up after some heavy rain. They had waded through the water and were wallowing like elephants during the short time the sun was out.
This pan is at the foot of Sosigi hill, which is back in the area they had once spent a lot of their time. That was before the alpha male and female took the pups on a mammoth expedition across virtually the entire reserve. The rain has transformed the whole reserve into a forest of greenery, even the bush around the house where we stay is hardly recognizable.
The whole land seems to be teeming with life, but the water still restricts our access to most places. It seems the impala and zebra are a little more daring than usual, enjoying a little more cover to camouflage themselves with. It is good to be back in the lowveld, I hope to be exploring as far as the weather will allow in the next few days – things are going to get interesting!
Usually when the elephant herds come to drink or wallow they take it in turns, but not yesterday in the red soils around Tsuvuka pan. All the herds climbed in at once. As the kids went wild, the mom’s soon joined in in all the fun.
It’s always so refreshing to see animals having such fun with the simplest of commodities. We’ve moved on so far and almost lost the simple things in life, which so often are the best.
This post is coming to you extra early this morning as I head to Harare to see how cholera is affecting the people of Zimbabwe.
Sadly seeing the elephants loving the wet muddy conditions that are upon us right now is not the case in our cities where so many people are suffering with disease because of the very same conditions.
Penny and I snuck out the house early to see if we could pick up Manyari. No joy there and things were quiet on Banyini.
What Penny was really gunning for was a flip in the microlight. But first we had to carry out a 50hr service. All pretty simple stuff and soon we were airborne over Africa once again. She had flown with me once before and enjoyed it, but was sitting strapped in with her sister. Now she was on her own and loving it. Especially the tummy jerks.
The buffalo herds were still scattered all over the clays but we were really in search of the elephant herds and the wild dogs.
We found a few bulls scattered across the reserve and eventually found the breeding herds to the north of the hills at Tsuvuka pan. This pan in the red soils soon transformed our ellies into red statues. They looked pretty stunning standing out against the fresh green flush.
Flying on down the Nyamasikana river we flushed a group of about 20 Marabou storks, all guilty! The river had flooded into the dam recently but having now receded left these small pools scattered in the sand. These bream found themselves caught in one such pool and the Marabou had themselves a feast killing every fish in the pool and eating those they could but leaving the bigger ones to rot on the dry sand. Dead fish lay scattered around these pools leaving not much to the imagination of the massacre that had taken place.
Down near the Chiredzi River I picked up the signal of the wild dogs. For me it’s always good news to know they’re still on the reserve.
By now Penny was getting a little green from airsickness and we landed.
It was then straight out to the elephants. I really miss these huge dudes and more so the little guys having fun in water and mud wallows. They’re always such good value.
It was a treat to be with them again as I haven’t spent time with the pachyderms for a while now.
On the ground I went to check on the dead fish. They still lay scattered about the sand and the Marabous Storks have moved off.
It was now late afternoon and menacing dark clouds threatened from the north. Definitely time to head home. But I hadn’t finished yet and kayaked my way around the dam in the storm. For some reason I find exercising in the rain is always so invigorating.
That misty Christmas drizzle is here to stay.
We didn’t get out till later in the afternoon when the cloud started lifting, that being after we’d already been moisturised for the first hour that we were out searching for the ever elusive action.
Excitement, I don’t really know why, should know better, lions on Banyini. Manyari and Chahwihwi had taken refuge in a thicket and even with the rain lifting had no plans on moving out of there.
We ended up doing the rounds repeatedly coming back to check on Manyari, JUST in case they’d somehow been magically persuaded into action.
There weren’t many other options available for travel with the whole area being soaked and the clays just not accessible.
These Marabou Storks sure looked like they’d had a rough Christmas evening and were spending their day recovering from their vicious hangovers. Not too far fetched an idea as they had quite likely overdosed themselves on flying ants.