Wednesday, 22 April 2009

21st April – Sohebele’s Return!

It finally happened; the Sohebele pride returned to an area where we could actually drive to view them!

Four of the members of the pride were found on Mbali River Rd, not far from Mbali dam. Even better than just seeing them was seeing how fat they were! The pregnant females looked like beached whales lying in the open with their legs in the air. The pride had finished off a waterbuck during the night, but with their pregnant bellies, combined with the recent meal, they looked ready to pop! The two adult females were in the company of one of the young males, and the older daughter both of who were also looking well fed (although probably only a temporary respite from their ‘skinny’ look). We were not sure where the other three lions were, although Johannes noted that he had seen fresh tracks for them on top of his vehicle tracks this morning, so they are probably not too far away and will in all likelihood meet up some time during the night.

Godfrey got to see two of the Timbavati male lions quite far down south this morning at Impala dam, but they sounded quite inactive. He also managed to see a large herd of buffalo in the company of a large breeding herd of elephant which his guests seemed to enjoy. The eight zebras were seen on our airstrip again, and a number of giraffes were seen down south too.

The good lion sightings this morning continued with Herald seeing the three young nomadic male lions that we have been seeing over the last few weeks. Johannes also found Mbali female leopard this morning just on the western side of the Nhlarulumi River, not far from Mbali dam wall.

The busy morning was not quite replicated in the afternoon. The cold and windy conditions throughout the day no doubt kept a most of the animals in the thicker bush sheltering from the chilly weather. I had no luck relocating those three male lions, turning my attention to the Sohebele pride instead. It was no surprise to find them in exactly the same place, and even after our ‘sundowners’ (with no sun) they were all still unmoved but we were lucky to seem them all walk about 10m before flopping to the ground once more!!!

That was the only Big 5 sighting up north; the general game however wasn’t too bad. We saw a good number of steenbok, impala, quite a few waterbuck, baboons, hippo (including two out of the water grazing after dark), and then some zebra near camp.

I got my wish, the Sohebele pride returned, now they just need to stay around for a while, and if they can have their cubs on the reserve, that would be just splendid! After our dose of lions today, I think we are all quite keen for some leopards tomorrow, especially Mangadjane male who has been rather scarce of late…

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