Mobile tracking…

You would have thought that having located all the lions on Friday, we’d know where they were – approximately. You would have thought that the location of Tsotsi on the 3rd might be quite similar on the 4th. Not a chance! You may recall that I mentioned Tsotsi and Tsala had left their cubs and were on the hunt. Well, they were mobile yesterday. I was on telemetry, and I didn’t like it one little bit. It’s fine when the lion you’re tracking is in one place, but mobile – different story.

We drove down to the southern part of the reserve, to Tsotsi’s aproximate location from the night before – not a beep. We went from high hill to high hill, and still no beeps. Finally managed to find some beeps registering on the SE side of the reserve, and we were on the SW part of the reserve. So we drove to the SE, and checked again. No beeps. What was going on? Any bearings we got didn’t cross and I was seriously wondering whether I was any good at telem.

We finally managed to get a cross from 2 triangulation points,and headed over. Well, there were beeps, but not at the triangulation point. They were mobile. So in desperation, it being about 10am by this time and seriously hot, we got them on a bearing of 3 o’clock from the vehicle and drove into the bush. Try to imagine if you will, dense Mopane all around with these swarms of little green flies and their eggs on the Mopane leaves being driven over by this Mehindra. And me still trying to mobile track with the telem in one hand, while holding on to the vehicle with my (and checking the frequency)with my other hand. Mopane branches whipping over and past the vehicle and me still having to say to the driver, 11 o’clock at a frequency of 0, 10 o’clock at a frequency of -1,etc, etc. I had also to make sure that the telem didn’t get caught tp by the whippy branches.

As you get closer to the lions, you can turn the frequency down into the negative, and at -2 to -3 all the team can start helping you look for a visual sighting. These lions were mobile. We were covered in flies and their eggs, and they were down our tops, in our ears, down our trousers, in our bags.Not pretty. We managed to find an area where we could re-assess the situation and I looked around and discovered that the rest of the team on the back of the Mehindra were sitting on the floor. It was quite a sight. A road was nearby, and we headed for it, and managed to find the lions close by, resting in the shade. We headed back home as it was now too hot to stay and watch them.

We headed back out to Tsotsi about 3:30pm, thankfully the heat of the day was waning fast, and found them where we left them. A warthog came to the pan where the lions were resting, but turned tail either due to sighting the lions, or more likely us, the lions rested some more before deciding to head off. I had to mobile track again, again through dense Mopane, but we rapidly decided that finding a road would be more useful. Once back on the road, we discovered that we were heading for Skelm Dam, a good watering hole, so we headed there too, by road!

At Skelm dam, we picked up Tsotsi’s signal which showed that they were indeed heading for the dam, and hopefully they would successfully hunt that night. I am hoping that the team comes back with pics of a kill today. By this time it was getting late, and we needed to head back home. Got some good sunset pics though, and some of the team hiding in the Mehindra while mobile tracking.