Wednesday, 6 May 2009

05th May – Three Nomadic Lions not so ‘Nomadic’!

Our struggle for lions continued this morning, and I was desperate to find any sign of them. I once again checked our northern boundary, but saw no sign of the Sohebele pride coming back. The manager of one of the camps radioed to say that he had heard the Sohebele male roaring near his camp, and I decided to head in that direction to go and follow up. On the way there, my tracker found signs of those three young nomadic lions at Mvubu crossing, and went on foot to find them. He soon located them in a thicket on a nearby drainage line. The one male ran off when we approached in the vehicle, and the other two stayed under the bush, before themselves making a hasty exit. We followed the one lion at a distance as he went to find his brothers who were now lying in a Mopane thicket – but unfortunately it was too thick, and they seemed a bit too nervous to pursue them any longer, so we left and went and had some coffee. On the way back to camp, we found three buffalo, an elephant bull, a female giraffe and calf on our airstrip, and another elephant bull drinking at our Trade Entrance Dam. Andrew watched nine elephant bulls having a drink at Buffalo Pan late in the morning.

Later in the morning, Johannes found Mbali female leopard a few hundred meters from the lions, and she was relocated in the afternoon at Mvubu crossing. As I arrived, she got up and started wandering in southerly direction before bolting back to the north. We followed behind, and ahead spotted some male waterbuck involved in a fight with one anther! Mbali ran to within a few meters of the two males and then stopped, contemplating whether to risk an attack on an antelope that was clearly far out of her size range. The two waterbuck seemed relatively oblivious to her presence, but when a third individual sounded the alarm, they stopped, didn’t see the leopard 8m away from them, and then ran off to the river! I suspect Mbali had heard the clash of horns and assumed it was some male impalas – much easier targets for a cat of her size! She then turned her attention to a herd of impala, and continued to stalk and pursue the herd for the rest of the afternoon; we eventually left when it became too dark to follow her without using a spotlight.

After sundowners, those three lions were found at Mvubu crossing, and we spent a short time with them, but they had clearly had a good meal yesterday, and were in no mood to do much besides sleep – even when a hippo wandered past not too far from them! It was a bit disconcerting to see that even in the dark, they were a bit weary of the Land Rover at first, but soon settled down and allowed for a nice sighting.

Heading back to camp, I saw three buffalo bulls, an elephant bull in the distance, giraffe, impala, waterbuck, and five hyenas (including three cubs) at Trade Entrance Dam.

That ended off another productive afternoon at Motswari!

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