Sunday, 19 April 2009

17th April – Lions!

It has been a bit of a struggle for lions the last two days since I got back from leave, and I really needed some today! The plan was to go and check our northern boundary road to see if the Sohebele pride had come back south, but luckily our guides didn’t need to go that far, as I found tracks for a male lion on our airstrip road just west of camp. We followed up, but the tracks went off the property, so we went ahead to see if they would pop out into our property again. Just as the guides were starting to loose hope, a strange alarm call from a bird alerted us to something, so we stopped, and there not far off the road was a leopard up a marula tree! We headed off road to get a better look. The leopard, Argyle Jnr female, was facing the opposite direction, and seemed unconcerned about our approach, until she suddenly descended and bolted off! At almost the same instance we saw spotted a young male lion, and being desperate for lions (and blasé about leopards!) we followed the lion, who too ran off – it seems the animals didn’t want to be around us this morning! We eventually managed to catch up to the young male lion, and found him in the company of two others – and that explained what the leopard was so concerned about and why it ran off! The lions were the same three young nomads that had killed the buffalo down south almost two weeks back. They were still nervous of the vehicles, but after a while settled down and all of our guides got a chance to see them; welcome relief for everyone it must be said! We also heard from one of the neighbouring land owners that they had heard these lions trying to attack a buffalo yesterday evening, not 500m from the lodge, but when he shone the spotlight to investigate, they unfortunately ran off.

I was also rather in need of some elephant, and luckily Palence also managed to find those for us! A lone bull was seen feeding at Francolin pan, and then a nice herd of probably 20-25 elephants was picked up a bit further to the west. Amongst them was a very small baby, maybe a couple of weeks old. The mother didn’t let it stray too far from her. A slightly older baby provided great entertainment as he continuously mock charged the vehicle, and then couldn’t resist climbing all over one of the other herd members that had decided to take a nap right on the road! While watching this on one side, there were two ‘teenage’ bulls having a fight on the other side! It was a really good sighting of these gentle giants.

The afternoon was not too bad. Andrew and Godfrey followed up on the three lions and found them not far from where they were left this morning, but they moved into some thick bush a bit later in the afternoon. Up north, Andrew also found that herd of elephants again, not far from the Nhlarulumi River. I decided to go and check the southern part of our traversing area, but it wasn’t too productive down south. The usual impala, a warthog, and then two sightings of lone buffalo bulls at Entrance dam and Sweetwater pan followed. Herald also had that large herd of buffalo drinking at Makulu dam once again. I got excited when a report came over the radio that Nthombi female leopard had been seen by a staff member at one of the camps, but the guides were unable to relocate her.

I went and checked for the Sohebele pride along the Timbavati access road, but had no luck (although I did hear that they were seen sleeping on the road the night before!). At the Motswari turn-off, we did a small herd of elephants, and we also had audio for a herd of buffalo in the distance.

It was thus not a bad day, and I got my wish for some lions! I just hope that the Sohebele’s return soon, I am starting to miss them!

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