Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day 10- Mohlabetsi... We Spotted a Leopard!

What's better than seeing one of the big 5? Seeing 2 of the big 5! What's better than seeing 2 of the big 5? Seeing all of the big 5! Today was very rewarding because, at last, we have found the big 5! The big 5 are the top 5 most dangerous animals to hunt in South Africa and include: lions, buffalo, elephants, rhinos, and leopards. Today overall was very successful. We had already seen a plethora of animals, when all of a sudden our tracker received a radio message that a cheetah was in the area! We raced off in our tracker jeep and nearly flew out of the truck on several occasions! At last, after ducking several leafy branches, we made it. We were shocked; before us, sitting on the man-made watering hole was not a cheetah, but a leopard! It was beautiful and after admiring it for a few minutes it jumped into the watering hole right before the other cruiser showed up. We waited a few minutes until it leaped out again, then followed it around some more. What an exciting day!

Morning Field Notes:

1. 5 wilderbeast (roaming through the grass):
·      As it gets light enough to move confidently, the male will rub off his scent and lead them off.
·      Also called a “gnu.”

2. 3 jackals (at least 1 females and 1 male)
·      scavengers 

3. 6 giraffes (2 mothers, an adult female, and 2 babies)
·      The adult female could have been offspring from the previous year.
·      Spread their legs apart to reach their neck to the ground.

4. 5 waterbuck (2 females, 2 males, and 1 baby)

5. 3 Hyena pups
·      Cannot tell a hyena’s sex by their genitals; they look very similar.
·      They have a matriarchal society meaning females are dominant. Even the lowest ranked female is higher than the highest ranked male. Females are also bigger.
·      Pups live in a den (an old warthog or aardvark burrow) and will stay there for up to 18 months. They modify the burrow to create “chambers” in which they can sleep. They will leave the den around 1 or 2 years.
·      Their call reverberates through the ground and can travel long distances. This is used to contact each other.
·      They are not only scavengers, but also hunters.

6. Warthog running through the grass

7. Steenbok leaping through grass

8. Huge bachelor herd of 15-20 male impala; many of which were mature males.

9. 3 zebras in bush

10. A wilderbeast followed 7 female impala… he seemed to have some species identity issues.

11. 1 elephant
·      solitary male

12. Large male giraffe eating from Acacia tree
·      Birds frequently rest on them to eat ticks and mites from their fur.

13. Brown Snake Eagle

14. 3 younger female giraffe

15. Grey heron by lake

16. Nile crocidile by lake

17. Large herd of zebras

After our morning tour, we ate lunch. I ordered a coke float; however, apparently South Africans do not know what this is so I had to explain it to them. The lady to brought it to me commented that it was "quite dodgy." After our break, we set out in the bush again.

Afternoon Field Notes:

1. Warthog/giraff/bachelor herd of impala/7 zebra (5 female, 1 male, 1 baby)
·      Male dominant zebra was putting himself in between us and his herd and showing display behavior.

2. Herd of Buffalo (mixed sex group with babies included)
·      Most were laying and resting; some kept watch
·      Greatest threat would be lions. Lions split the herd up and aim for the old and young.
·      Short lifespan (18 years)
·      No single dominant leader; older males take charge and are the ones who mostly mate with the females.
·      Ruminate food to get all the nutrients from it.
·      80% have TB and food and mouth, but it is not fatal for a buffalo.
·      Ox pexkers on the backs of buffalo alert the herd to dangers by flying off and sounding an alarm call. They also pick the ticks off the backs of the buffalo. This is a mutualistic relationship that benefits both.

3. 2 Dikei (one male and one female)
·      Differ from steenbok because it is great and more square.
·      “Dikei” means “dive” because when they run, it looks like a diving motion.

4. 2 Warthogs

5. 4 adult zebra and 1 baby

6. Bachelor’s herd of impala
·      November is the peak of the new babies’ birth. They give birth within 1 or 2 days of each other, so the entire herd has babies at the same time. Therefore, some get picked off, but many survive.

7. Swanson Franklin
·      Brown body and a red head

8. Cape turtle dove
·      Call sounds like it is saying “work harder”

9. 9 waterbuck (most females, a few males, and one baby)

10. Leopard
·      One of the big 5
·      Was sitting on the man-made watering hole when it jumped in. We waited for a bit until it came out and then followed it into the woods where it casually laid down in the grass.

11. Adult Hyena
·      Chase prey until they’re exhausted and can’t run anymore.
·      They’re 2nd in the predator hierarchy behind lions and in front of leopards.
·      Can’t climb, doesn’t have retractable claws.
·      Would go after a leopard with a pack.
·      Slanted back helps long distance running

12. Hare hopping down the road

13. Juvenile Giant Eagle Owls

1 comment:

  1. Grams is visiting and I read your posts to her...we are really enjoying them and learning a lot! I have been wondering when you would see a lion or some type of cat...Congratulations! Seems like you have been very successful with animal sighting!

    Layne Gambel