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Trip report November 5th - 16th

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Trip report November 5th - 16th

Unread post by Mashona » Sat Nov 17, 2007 11:44 am

Kgalagadi Trip report

November 5th to November 15th

Arrived 08.30 Monday morning after a long drive the previous day to Ashkam, road conditions to the park as expected after reading the forums
( Temp at TW 18c )
Met and greeted Andre in his office and set off into the park, wonderful to be back
First sight however was distressing to say the least, carcasses of the dead Eland strewn around the first water hole. Came as quite a surprise, but as we know now a common sight to see over the next 10 days
Leeuwdrill and Rooiputs water holes the same, did have its spin off however at we saw all three types of vulture on one of the carcasses at Rooiputs ( White backed, Lappet and Cape Griffon)
Viewed a giant Eagle Owl in the tree to the right, just off the road
Interesting sighting of a Yellow Mongoose up a tree attacking a sociable Weaver nest….spent a few minutes watching him rip open the thatching
Kij Kij waterhole also strewn with Eland carcasses…….counted 18 within have a kilometer, the Jackals and Hyaena must have had a feast!
Road conditions north of Melkvlei to Nossob were to put it mildly shocking. The park looked dry and empty, little grass cover and very few animals of any sort to be seen ( little did we know what was to follow )
Arrived at Nossob,booked into the unit 10A………now I know where the best place to be when at Nossob, first house to the right as you drive in. wonderful view of the valley through the fence when sitting on the verandah
Evening drive saw one of the many mood changes in the park, sat at Maries se draai and watched as the heavens darkened and the wind begin to blow into what turned out to be a dust storm, the valley changed face at the skies darkened and the wind begin to howl, throwing up dark clouds of thick Kalahari sand
Wilderbeast in the loop moving onto the dunes to get away from the conditions ( There were sightings of 4 Lion on the loop that morning. We missed them
It did help to have a glass or two of Du Toits Sauvignon Blanc and smoked muscles ……keeps the dryness from the throat!!!
Lone Jackal at the waterhole
Max temp today 28c
Back at Nossob temps dropped to 15c
That wonderful sound of Barking Geckos as the evening darkened

Day Two Tuesday

The Kalahari will always surprise you, yesterday dust bowl conditions, howling wind, the raw edge
This morning woken up at 02.30 with pouring rain……..sounded wonderful
Up at 05.00 to the sight of Nossob camp with large pools of water, around the offices, petrol pumps and camp. Nature turned on its head
Light rain still falling as we left the camp at 05.30

View at 05.30 Nossob Valley

First time ever to drive in the Kalahari with headlights and use my spot light
Went south around Maries Loop, hoping to see yesterdays Lions
Spotted Eagle owl seen having his first “bath” of the season in one of the many pools in the road. Little Sparrow Hawk in the same tree as the Owl, first sighting of this tiny Rapture for us in the Kalahari ( seen in Etosha )

Jackal on an Eland Carcass at the waterhole, a very old carcass it would seem. Found fresh Lion tracks on the road, followed them and later viewed a Large Male some distance away
At 10.00am still raining, Nossob Camp looking flooded, temperature at mid day 12c !!!
Drove North to Cubitje Quap, at last, two large herds of Springbok, 300+ Strange to hear Barking Gecko in the day time!!!
Evening drive around the Loop again. Viewed 13 Bat Eared Fox
Temp at Nossob at 18.00 22c
Surface water in the camp gone
That evening from the hide viewed three Spotted Eagle Owls at the water hole AND A CAPE HARE! Another first

Day Three Wednesday

Early morning drive around Maries se Draai, temp 15c, viewed Wildcat running across the road into the valley
This morning drove south to Dikbaardskolk
Three large herds of Wilderbeast viewed, Two very large Springbok herds north of Kaspersdraai
Road conditions very poor
Turned at Dikbaardskolk
Return trip, several Ostrich
Bat Eared Fox again viewed on the Loop
Temp at 16.00 30c
( Found out we missed a Leopard at Kaspersdraai at 11.00 by minutes …….tail of wow )

Afternoon drive to Kwang, very little to report, Ostrich, Jackal, Sand Grouse and on return the same large herds of Springbok
A few glasses of wine to be had at Kwang as the silence of the Kalahari soothes the city stressed nerves,
on return the same large herds of Springbok
Temp at 18.00 24c

Nossob camp maybe quarter full, wonderful to have the place to ones self

That evening, no night noises, waterhole little going on

Day Four Thursday

Early morning drive, Maries Loop, African Wild Cat south of Rooikop
Tawny Eagle on a kill in the Valley, looked like a Hare?
Returned and packed up to move North to Grootkolk
Several large herds of Wilderbeast, Springbok and Hartebeast ( biggest herds seen since 1993 for us )
32 kms north of Nossob, found a Male Cheetah on the road, seemed to be tracking the Springbok herds
Few lone Gemsbok viewed. One female Kudu near Grootkolk
Temp at 12.00 28c
Arrived at Grootkolk and told three Lions walked through the camp the previous evening ( sigh )
That evening visited by an African Wild Cat, seems to have become semi tame and looks for scraps from the braai
Jackal in the camp as well

Day Five Friday

Temp at 05.00 7c !!!!
Set off north for a drive and breakfast at Unions end
Large herds of Springbok, Wilderbeast, few Gemsbok and Hartebeast. Tawny Eagle, several Jackals
Stopped at the picnic site, empty of any human life. Wonderful to have the park to yourself
Bacon and Eggs on the braai
Unions end
Return trip, Bat eared Fox, Jackal and a good sighting of a Pale Chanting Goshawk take a lizard
Temp at 10.30 30c
Back to camp, too hot to do anything but lie around
Plus minus 30 Wilderbeast moved onto the Grootkolk waterhole, stayed till dusk and moved off
Visited again by African Wild Cat that evening
Clear skies, able to view Venus and her moons, stunning stars
Strong overnight wind, bringing down the temperatures

Day Six Saturday

Set off south at 06.00 temp 17c
Drove to Kannaguass waterhole
Met a couple ( Lucas ) who told us we had just missed a large Male at the waterhole
Asked what direction he moved away to, North, tracked back along the road north hoping that we may intersect them?
Saw a Brown Hyaena in the river bed, then 200 metres further on Two Honey Badgers ( first EVER sighting ) Great excitement
Slowly moved north and sat and waited, hoping the Lion would be seen
In the far distance we saw them, two…..moving in our direction
Great photo opportunity as they both moved across the veld towards us, passed within two metres. Much hyperventilation and clicking of cameras
Both Sub Adult males, manes still not fully developed
Back south to Kannaguass waterhole
Secretary Bird , Korrie Bustard , Black Shouldered Kite, Sand Grouse seen
Interesting story, this morning a Dutch Couple in their Toyota Tazz ( yes on those roads ) stopped at Lijersdraai picnic spot for a pit stop
She moved towards the loo only to get a few metres away when a Leopard rushes out of the entrance. It had dragged a Sptingbok into the loo entrance and was busy eating……both parties got a very nasty surprise
Returned to GrootKolk
Afternoon temperature 27c
African Wild cat again visited that evening
( Almost like being at home with a tame cat )

Day Seven Sunday

Woke up at 04.00 to the sound of Lion roaring, Jackal howling
Continued on till 05.25 when we jumped in the car to go hunt the source of the noise
Up and down the road, tracks to be seen, no roars, no Lion
Give up in frustration…..after 20 minutes
Back to the camp, at the waterhole sits the Lion, he had moved in as we moved out!!! Murphy’s law
Good sighting, plenty of roaring, looked like the Sub Adult male from yesterday
Packed up and moved out at about 7.30
Stopped at Lejersdraal to view the spot where the Leopard was sighted at the picnic area, plenty of Springbok hair in the entrance still
Again in the Kalahari you can miss something by minutes, we only found out later that the Dutch couple in the Tazz had been in front of us by ten minutes, they had viewed the same Leopard again, near the picnic area, close enough to touch ( Not bad for their first trip, they viewed Lion, Leopard, Caracal, Wild Cat in the same day………)
We viewed 20 Eland ( the biggest herd we had ever viewed south of Lijersdraai ) Again several large Springbok herds as we moved south
Large herd of Gemsbok at Bedinkt along with +- 12 Kudu and Hartebeast with very young calves. South of Bedinkt saw a very strange coloured Jackal, almost albino ….no stripes, reddish colour!
Martial Eagle seen at Kwang and then Black chested Snake Eagle. First sighting of Mouse Birds near Kwang
Stopped at Nossob for fuel 37c at 10.30
Drive South to Kielie Krankie was very hot and very boring, bad road conditions did not help the mood in the oppressive heat
Arrived at Kiele Krankie at 13.30, temp 37c
Told by the game assistant at the camp they they had been visited during the past week by a three legged Leopard???? Interesting story, has anybody else heard about this?
Evening drive into the Auob river area…………nothing of interest sighted

Day Eight Monday

Heavy overnight wind, made early morning drive impossible
Left at 08.00 temp 15c
Headed south to TW, Pygmy Falcon sighted, Jackal, mixed herd of Gemsbok, Hartebeast, Wilderbeast on the dunes 15 km north of TW
Turned north at TW and up the Nossob road
17 kms saw large herds of Springbok and +- 300 Wilderbeast
1 km north of Leeudril mating Lions, sat on the sighting for an hour and a half ( Met my Friend Professor Gert Lamprecht while watching the action ) It’s funny how you tend to see old friends in the park
Another large herd Springbok 10kms further north
African Wild Cat seen asleep up a tree, 100 metres from the road
Turned at Kij Kij and over the dunes
Arrived back at 13.00
Couple next door said they were having a quiet animal viewing time in the park……. They had seen Leopard every day and had done on every visit !!!! ( The tension of not seeing Leopard was beginning to build )
Evening drive, Giant Eagle Owl viewed in the Auob
Sundowner at Rooibrak
Jackal at the waterhole, Tawney Eagle
Then a very distressing sight, an Eland had just drank at Gemsbokplein and was in obvious distress, stood totally still, eyes glazed. If I had have gotten out of the car and walked up to it would have been able to push him over. Stomach distended, looked like he would explode
Missed another Leopard at Montrose!!! By minutes

Day Nine Tuesday

Woken up at 4.15 by the sound of a “cat” of sorts in the water tank area of our cabin, we had seen what we thought to be a dead Cape Fox in the tank area. Believe either a Caracal or Wild Cat had stashed to kill in the area, was coming back to collect it
Up early, viewed Spotted Hyaena at the Kielie Kranke waterhole at 05.15 . Overnight noises of Owl and Jackal calls
Drove South to the Auob to view the Eland from last evening, as suspected it had literally exploded over night and was dead in the road
Jackal already on the carcass
Drove on further north, at the Veertiende Boorgat viewed two male Lions sleeping in the shade…….very fat stomachs, a big kill

Booked into Urikaruus………first time to spend nights there, great setting on the dry riverbed

Drove back that afternoon, plenty of good photographs of the Lions as they woke up and drank from the waterhole
Temp at 17.00 39c
On the way back to camp, Tawny Eagle , Giraffe ( single male bull ) at Dertiende Boorgaat
Temperature at 19.30 at Kielie Kranke 30c

Day Ten Wednesday

Out at 06.00 , 17c, morning drive, off north in the hope of seeing the Lions from yesterday
At the same waterhole found
The same two males with three adult females, seven 8 month old cubs and three five week ? olds
Sat for two hours watching the action as the Pride moved from one side of the river bed to the other
One very worrying thing happened whilst watching, there is a wire enclosure under one of the trees with a pump/tank, one of the tiny cubs climbed into a break in the wire and then could not get out, was stuck inside for at least an hour, mother highly agitated as was the cub.
Thank goodness it found itself out of the enclosure, the whole pride moved to the far side of the waterhole area and fell asleep
Drove onto to Mata Mata, viewed 13 Giraffe at Graig Lockhardt
Two young giant Eagle owls sighted up a tree

Back to camp, temp at midday 40c………..

Met up with friends again on the road, they had stayed at Bitterpan the night before…..Mating Leopards in front of the camp!!! Leopard tension growing!!!!

Another Leopard sighting 20km north of TW by another couple……..that evening

Went back for the Lion show at Veertiende Boorgat, plenty of action as the cubs played around…….last night in the park ……no Leopard

Thursday……..last drive out

Hyaena calls from the river bed during the night

Heavy overnight thunderstorm, plenty of dust and wind, hardly any rain in the area, but all around looked promising

Packed and ready to go at 05.30, slight tension in the air………16th trip and no Leopard, whilst all and sundry were viewing them all over the park?

Eleven Giraffe at Rooibrak, Male Lion on the dunes above Montrose

20kms north of TW, Lucas, my friend from Grootkolk stops me in the road and tells me, 500 meters south he saw Jackal under a newly stashed Springbok kill, Leopard on the top of the dune……watch his tyre tracks, slowly moved south, spotted the Springbok in the tree, the Jackals under it, searched and searched on the dune top………………at last…………..the female Leopard spotted. Our FIRST Kalahari Leopard
Switched off the engine and sat, eyes glued to the Leopard, hoping she would move down to the kill. After twenty odd minutes, scanned the dune, what I thought was a stick at first was the tail of a second Leopard……..two in one sighting??????
The second Leopard turned out to be the sub adult cub of the female on the dune
Watched as it came off the dune and up the tree to start eating the Springbok. Photographs at last, Leopard at last……on the last drive out of the park

Viewed an African Wild cat about 2 kms further south

Out of the park at 09.10………..smiles at last on the faces

Must have been the best ever Kalahari trip………..changed day by day, weather, sightings. As always the Kalahari surprises you, as the book says

The Kalahari will reveal itself to only those that seek with a true heart

As will the state of the roads…………….

Photographs will follow as soon as I upload onto my web site ... he_leopard

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Unread post by MATTHYS » Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:36 pm

Please tell why only eland were dying Mashona :?
Could not have been because of starvation if only eland ?
aquila non capit muscas

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Unread post by wanderw » Sat Nov 17, 2007 6:20 pm

Thanx Mashona! Great report and pics stunning! :clap:
We went to KTP end SEP/OCT and lots of eland carcasses. Lions were killing them(because they were sick and weak) as well as Eland just dying at waterholes - We heard that the KTP grass didn't agree with them, coupled with drinking too much water - Mashona said the eland looked like it was about to explode after drinkng at Gemsbokplein! Anyway ,the predators were having a great time!

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Unread post by wanderw » Sat Nov 17, 2007 6:24 pm

Forgot to mention that lots of eland came over from Botswana because of the drought - I believe these were the eland that were getting sick and dying!

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Unread post by MATTHYS » Sat Nov 17, 2007 6:25 pm

Thank you wanderw :D you perhaps know why this is happening now...and why it did not happen before :?
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Unread post by Mashona » Sat Nov 17, 2007 6:55 pm

Thanks for all the comments

I was told this happened to the Eland in 1996 as well
Cows suffer the same problem from time to time . Vets pour copious amounts of oil into their digestive system

The animals are basically falling over after drinking too much water, the stomach starts to ferment and literally the animal explodes

Will add more photographs onto my web site this weekend of the live Eland about to die, the side of its stomach area had burst.....quite an amazing death ... he_leopard

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Unread post by african_wild_cat » Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:17 pm

Hi Mashona,

Excellent trip report, thanks! Can't wait for your photos! Am so happy for you about the leopards!!!!!!!! :D We've never seen leopard in the park before. :(

Can also not wait for our Dutch friends to post their trip report about the leopard encounter! They seem to be cat magnets, as we saw 4 wild cats, a caracal and a cheetah when they joined us for a game drive (in something with a bit more elevation than a Tazz)! :D

On enquiry about the distressing amount of Eland carcasses, we were told by one of the park employees that the Eland came over from Botswana because of the drought, but that they could only start eating the grass once it was taller, so the rain came a bit late for them. Coupled with that was the effect of the water as mentioned by others.

We had a heartbreaking sighting of a beautiful, very young Eland (still alive, but unable to walk) with a grossly distended belly at Vaalpan waterhole on 3 November. Will post on my trip report later.
And forget not
that the earth delights
to feel your bare feet
and the winds long to play with your hair - Kahlil Gibran

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Unread post by Mashona » Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:23 pm

Have a look at this picture, taken first thing in the morning

The side of the Eland can be clearly seen to have burst, its backside seems distended as well

This was the evening before.........have you ever seen an animal cry? Thats what it looks like

Will post more over the next few days

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Unread post by Mashona » Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:51 pm

I know these pictures are really gruesome but it looks like the poor animal burst, through its mouth, eyes etc

Very sad, but nature has its ways

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Unread post by Mashona » Sat Nov 24, 2007 5:19 pm

Have finished uploading to the Kgalagadi albums

Hope you enjoy, they certainly brought back memories ... he_leopard



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