Tuesday, 28 April 2009

26th & 27th April – Good Lions, but Not Many Elephants

The last two days have been a bit quiet, but still not too bad from a Big 5 point-of-view. Sunday morning started out with us tracking some lions that we suspected to be the Sohebele Pride, but when my tracker found them, it was in fact the three young nomadic male lions. At first they ran away, but Herald managed to relocate them in his vehicle and got a fair sighting of them. In the afternoon, I attempted to find them again, and although we saw signs of where they had been trying to hunt some buffalo, after the tracks went down into the riverbed, we decided to leave it.

Sunday also produced sightings of the young Machaton male lion in the company of one of the younger females from the same pride. They were seen lying together in the morning, and in the afternoon I followed them for a while as they wandered around in the area of Elephant dam.

The large buffalo herd that have been moving around were again seen during both morning and afternoon drives, unsurprisingly moving between Makulu dam and Entrance dam (just for a change!). Elephants remained scarce, with no signs of any breeding herds up north, although around camp we once again saw a lone bull elephant. Andrew found Nkateko female leopard in the afternoon wandering around near Vielmetter camp, but she went down into the Machaton River. She eventually crossed out where Giyani relocated her sleeping on a termite mound. I was already on my way to see the Machaton lions, so I never got a chance to see her.

Andrew also managed to see the old Sohebele male lion who was found sleeping in the Nhlarulumi riverbed in the late afternoon.

Monday morning was also a bit quiet on the general game front, and although the large buffalo herd was reported down south at Elephant dam, none of the Motswari vehicles responded. We did all manage to go and see the five Sohebele sub-adults resting in a Mopane thicket near Makulu dam. They were looking alright, not well-fed, but at the same time, not particularly hungry. Even if they were, thing changed with a stroke of luck! While some of the guides were following them in the late evening, they chanced upon a dead male buffalo! A free meal is always welcome in the bush, and especially for these youngsters.

The leopards were represented today by Nkateko female who was found late in the morning. I spent over an hour with her; starting off with her resting on a shady rock, then spotting a squirrel up a bushy purple-pod cluster-leaf that she jumped into in pursuit of the critter, but it was too thick even for her to move around in! She ignored three giraffe, then went and climbed up a nice marula, napped for half an hour before continuing to wander around. We eventually left her when she climbed up another marula tree and went to sleep. I spent much of the morning tracking Mangadjane male leopard, but had no luck. In the afternoon, I believe that Palence did see Mangadjane in the vicinity of Makulu dam, but the highlight was for Herlad who was following him as he headed towards some impalas on the airstrip outside of Java camp. While watching the impalas, Mangadjanes attention was drawn to Rockfig female who came out onto the airstrip and was promptly chased up a marula tree! The sighting was not over, as Nkateko also came and joined the party, as did two hyenas!!! So there Herald was watching three leopards up one tree, Mangadjane growling at the other two who took refuge in the flimsy top branches, and two hyenas walking around the bottom of the tree as they thought their might be a kill - not a bad way to end off the day! Andrew then also got to see the always impressive but infrequently seen Argyle male leopard right at the camp as he was returning home from his drive last night.


  1. Thanks Chad. I have another question; we also sighted a female leopard with two small cubs..this was in March last year...would you know if both survived? I would imagine their mortality rate would be quite high.

    We didn't manage to see a Rhino then so am hoping we will in Jan.
    Looking forward to it!!

  2. thanks clare

    yes, that would have been Mbali and her two cubs. one of them (the young male) died at about 6-months old, but we are not sure how. the other survived (and is incidently the first cub Mbali has ever raised to near-maturity), and her name is Kuhanya - she is one great leopard!)

    rhino is still the hardest of the Big 5 for us to find, but most guests that stay for three nights get to see one...but not always guaranteed!!!

    have a great day!


  3. Hi Chad

    I have to say it again. Your photos are stunning! I love to see them and read your blog. It's like to be there myself. By the way, I booked my next trip to Motswari in November. Hope you be still there. Chat to you again. Take care

  4. Hi Gabriella,

    Like you I'm going back to Motswari again, this time taking my husband. I think he got tired of hearing about how fantastic it was and decided to see for himself! Have you been many times? I have only been once before nad it was just amazing. Clare J

  5. hey chad

    i came to motswari with my mum 2 bros and sister around this time last year and stayed for a week i could of stayed there for much longer!I have now fallen in love with timbavati! and am saving up to go again. Was just wondering if the 15yr old lion was still around? and how mac the elephant is doing? and is john still there? as he was our guide for the week! Hopefully we will be back to motswari in the future. Take care. x.x