Monday, 6 April 2009

05th April – Big 5 and more!

A nice and warm day, and despite the usual Sunday Morning Syndrome (Sunday mornings are often quiet, and we joke that the animals get to sleep in once a week!) up north, down south was were all the action was. The ten kudu’s that wandered past the lodge during coffee obviously didn’t have the morning off!

We had a couple of elephant bulls up north, and Mbali’s kill was still there (while we didn’t spend time looking for her, she was probably nearby), but most of our guides headed to the south.

The reason being that the southern stations had found those three young nomadic male lions with a buffalo kill! Elliot had found a sickly female buffalo yesterday afternoon (a female Dagga Boy as he called her!), and said straight away to me that he wouldn’t be surprised if his favourite new lions found her and tried to catch her. He was dead right! The guides that got there early saw one of the males feeding, but the other two males seemed a bit nervous of the vehicles; understandably so, they have come from an area where they probably didn’t get a lot of vehicle exposure before crossing into our area. When I arrived later the lions were resting in the shade and the vultures were gathering!

Not 100m away was a herd of buffalo drinking at Elephant dam, but luckily for the lions they headed in the opposite direction after having a drink. This was another large group of buffalo, perhaps 250-odd, and not the same herd we saw yesterday. Yesterdays herd was found on our western boundary, but none of the Motswari stations responded.
Instead we went to see the Nhlangula male rhino, who too was initially found at Elephant dam – the place to be today! The rhino moved off to the south and spent most of the morning moving grazing as all the guests got a chance to see him.

The leopards were represented this morning by a rather fat and sleepy Mangadjane male! He was picked up on Vielmeter property near Hide dam, and was sleeping near a dried up mudwallow, very content to do nothing. He did lift his head once for me and gave us a yawn before falling over again! He was very well fed!
The elephants were also pretty active, with four different herds being spotted in during the morning drive.

The afternoon followed a similar pattern, except that we also managed to find the Sohebele lionesses. Surprisingly, or maybe unsurprisingly, they were in exactly the same place they were yesterday afternoon – Francolin pan! They hadn’t moved all night, but they had been joined by the five Sohebele youngsters, who were looking decidedly hungry – a stark contrast to the two females who were still bloated and not looking in any mood to go and hunt for the starving sub-adults.

The three young nomadic lions were seen drinking at Elephant dam, not far from their buffalo kill, but still appeared slightly nervous, even after dark. Down south, Mangadjane was relocated, not far from his morning position, before he headed off to the east and crossed off our traversing area. Another leopard was also in the immediate vicinity of Mangadjane, it was his daughter Nkateko. She was seeking refuge high up in a marula tree, perhaps aware of the big male’s presence.

Godfrey and I stayed up in the north, and besides some elephant bulls and a breeding herd of these pachyderms, we also saw some hippos, and as with most of our other immobile cats today, we found Mbali and Kuhanya! Yes, you guessed it, still in the same place as they have been for the last five drives!!! Their impala kill is all but finished, and they will no doubt be gone tomorrow; their bellies appropriately full! As a result they were not overly active, although both awake and posing for the cameras, drifting off to sleep every so often.

So the animals have been making it quite easy for us over the last few days, let us hope that it continues over the next few too!

I’ll be on leave next week, so will catch up with my posts in a few days!

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