The 2nd, was a very long day. Drive began at 5am and we didn’t return to base til 7:30pm. It was a find all day and the other team were off to the mountains at midday. So we were the lucky group to climb Repeater, the highest point on the reserve. Going up involves stopping and checking for all the collared lions, wild dogs and elephants 3 times on the route up and checking twice on the way down before reaching the vehicle.
I was on data duty so had to sit in the cab (only advantage is that you have a window you can wind up to reduce the number of bugs landing on you) and write down all the bearings gathered by the telemetry person.
We managed to get only 3 bearings out of a possible 6 and relayed this to the other team. As they needed to get back in time to pack, etc, they were given the task of finding the two most northerly lions – Guizeppe and Thika. We had to find the other 4, and only had one bearing to go on.
5 hours after setting off we found Blade. It then took an hour’s drive down to the south western edge of the reserve and a further 4 hours to pinpoint the locaton of Tsotsi.
On a find all day we don’t stop for lunch, it’s a grab your lunch while you can. It was a scorcher of a day – I now have my left arm browner than my right, simply from sitting in the cab all day. We were getting so dusty that any suncream applied simply came off when you rubbed your hand over your arm trying to get rid of all the little green flies that landed on you every time the Mehindra brushed past a Mopane tree.
Tsotsi was with her sister, Tsala and all the cubs (6) were present too. We then had to head to the other side of the mine (to the SE of the reserve) to find Thunzi. We were very pleased to find him because we hadn’t found him on lion focus due to the type of terrain he’d been hiding in.
Next we headed north to triAngulate the location of one of the collared black backed jackals, managing to see a young jackal on the way. It was so hot by this time that our driver Christo decided that a stop at Mopane camp was in order so we could replenish ourselves with cold water. Drinking water that’s been in 40 degree heat is not an enjoyable experience.
We then set off to find Subipe. This was a priority because he hadn’t been found for a week and we (and the reserve mgt) needed to know that he was still on the reserve. (Tangent: 2 giraffe had broken out of the reserve, and were being herded back in – giraffe don’t break out of their own accord, so the question was… who had been hunting giraffe, and when?). We also needed to find Subipe before sunset.
Subipe had managed to find himself a medium sized leopard tortoise by one of the dams and by the looks of the remains had enjoyed it. There wasn’t much of the shell left. The time was now 17:45.
There was no way we were going to be able to check on the wild dogs so we concentrated on the two remaining collared black backed jackals before heading home. We had to do the last triangulation in the dark and we were closeto Lizzulea Dam, where lots of frogs were croaking away. Unfortunately for us, the mosquitos were also out in force and descended on us, speeding up our efforts to get home as soon as possible.