Saturday, 3 March 2007

Khutse NP - It's raining cats and dogs - Day2

Springbok in morning light
Late start to the morning.  The plan was to be up for a dawn run, but think we were both buggered from the day before – I had been up since 6am for the travelling in and Dru hadn’t been up much later.  So by the time we were up, it was late in bush time, although it was only 7.30am.

Since we were up so late, we decided to just have a couple of muffins and then head out straight away to catch the last of the morning sun to see if there were still some animals about before they moved into the bush to get away from the heat.

We had just got out of the campsite and stopped at the Moreswe waterhole – sad to see that there was almost no water in this one either – a couple more days of heat and it will have dried up completely.  What was going on with the water?

We had just stopped when another car drew up just behind us, where the guy got out and went to check out the waterhole.  Dru being Dru ;) started up a conversation with the guy – turns out it was Mike Olivieri – a big shot in Gabs and a keen wildlifer.  Bit of exchange about the lack of water and the plight of the lions – they had seen a lion injured at Molose – she seemed to have had a tangle with a porcupine – pretty unusual from an adult to try porcupine, were they that desperate? 
Ground squirrel
And they had a seen a leopard carcass near the road on the other side of the pan.  Combined with the lion we saw last night, it was a concern that something else was behind this – maybe disease?

After the chat we headed to the pump house – sometimes the lions hang out there, but no sign.  So back to Moreswe and then past that to head for the bottom pan - MabuaKolobe - we passed the leopard carcass on the way, just basically the skeleton and a half eaten head – not a nice sight of such a beautiful creature.

We took a slow drive around the bottom pan, passing Mike’s car along the way after they had stopped for breakfast.  Nothing much to see so we decided to head for Molose.  Seeing as how our campsite was actually KH15, the plan was to stay there the night.  So dropped by our campsite for coffee and to pack what little we had taken out before heading back the way we had come.

Along the way, a couple of kilometres from where we had spotted the dying lion last night, we spotted a few porcupine quills in the road.  Could this be from the lion that Mike had spoken about?  It was still quite a way from Molose, but you never knew.  Nothing to see on the way to Molose, but that is sort of No-man’s land and it is extremely rare to see anything there.

Lioness with porcupine quills
We finally got to Molose, about 25km from Moreswe.  We were looking for the injured lion and spotted her under a tree – thought pretty well camouflaged.  An adult lioness, but she looked pretty scrawny.  And had a few quills in here, including a couple in the face – another sad sight to see.  She didn’t pay much attention to us – after looking up when we arrived, she lay her head down and went to sleep.  We spent a bit of time with her before leaving her in peace.  Drove around the waterhole, but there was nothing else to see.

As it was heading to lunchtime, we drove to the campsite KH15.  we were doing a chicken in the potjie the evening so had to set that up.  Again nothing to see but suppose it’s to be expected in the head of the day – and it was very hot…
Dru demonstrating how to cook a chicken potjie
Finally got to the campsite and started organising the chicken over a glass of wine (seeing as how we had to open the wine to marinade the chicken…) with Dru entertaining me with his “cooking show”  Once that was organised, it was time to set up lunch – good meal of grillers and pasta – our staple lunch in the bush ;)

It was quite late when we finally left for the afternoon drive, because we waited for the chook to be done, though we left it to cool down in the pot.  So our afternoon drive was going to be our evening run as well.  Headed to Motailane but saw nothing there – apparently it was still too hot to be out in the open.  So drive around the pans and go check out the viewing site was the plan.  Again, nothing much to see on the pans, with the exception of a few gemsboks, springboks and hartebeests. We arrived at the viewing site, which gives an awesome view of Khutse 1. 

We climbed onto the car roof and enjoyed the view of the game under the trees with a couple of ladies drinks.  We saw a movement on the pan, smaller than a back, and once we had the bines on it, figured out it was a honey badger.  I’ve never seen one before, but Dru tells me they are vicious animals with a nasty attitude and have no fear ;) 

Watching the Khutse pan
I wanted to got check it out, so we drove back to Khutse 1, but unfortunately got no closer to it, so left him there and started moving back to Motailane to get there in time for the sunset over the waterhole.  We saw a couple of springboks along the edge of the pan and took advantage of the golden hour light, but by the time we got to Motailane, there was nothing else to see – where was everything?

So up on the roof and a few average shots of the sunset (though nothing spectacular) before starting the drive back to camp.  Nothing back to be seen either, even the springhares didn’t seem to be out.  As usual, we got back to camp after dark, but luckily dinner was already sorted.  Quick washes and ate dinner before getting into the tent relatively early.  Having missed the morning drive we were determined to get a very early start the next morning…

<< Check out what we saw yesterday - Day1

Guess what our awesome sightings are tomorrow - Day3 >>

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