Monday, 18 May 2009

10th May – Sohebele Sub-adults Seen!

Sunday was my last drive before leave (and three weeks annual leave – so I will return to my regular blog posts again in June), and although it was a shortened two-hour drive, it was a good one. Our plan was to go and check up on Mbali and her impala kill from last night, but the roaring of the three Mahlathini male lions heard just before game drive required investigation. The roaring was coming from some distance away, but was in the direction of Karans Big Dam. We drove around but didn’t see any sign of the lions, until we went up onto the dam wall when my tracker spotted tracks for one lion. We checked the dam, but there was only a lone side-striped jackal having a drink. This relatively shy and nocturnal creature finished his drink then came and trotted past the vehicle. While watching the jackal, Marion (the lodge’s owner) said she heard what she thought was a lion behind us. We went and checked a short road but found nothing. She suggested we checked a bit further east as she was sure she heard a lion. I gave it a go, but wasn’t confident as we were 100m from our boundary with the Kruger National Park, and if the calls came from inside there, we would not find the lions….but, Marion was right, and there, not 10m from the Kruger boundary we found the three lions, once again living up to their new name by sitting in the middle of a mopane thicket with a pretty poor visual. One walked past in the open and went to lie with his brother, so I reversed and stopped. I then decided to pull my hand-brake up, and that noise frustratingly sent them running!

I still wanted to go and see Mbali, so left Johannes to relocate and he did manage to find them again. In the mean time, Elliot ahd arrived at the scene of Mbali’s kill and managed to find not only her, but also her daughter, Kuhanya, at the site of the impala kill. Mbali was lying in a thicket, but Kuhanya was just relaxing in an open patch near the kill.

In the afternoon, with a few more drives out, the guys got to see these two leopards again, but even better was the news that two young lions were seen with an impala kill by a staff member. Our guides followed up on this news and two of the Sohebele Sub-adults feeding on an impala that they had caught earlier in the afternoon! It was really great to know that they are back, and hunting well. They kept looking towards the west while feeding, and eventually just turned and ran! Johannes spotted two lions approaching from the west…but it was only the two female sub-adults, and clearly the two males had misidentified them! So, while two got to eat well, the other two didn’t have much of a meal. The problem with the above scenario was the absence of the third sickly young male. Although I have made this mistake in the past, I would have a guess that his absence can only mean one thing – his ailing body has eventually succumbed to the inevitable, and he has passed away. Although we will have to wait a bit longer to confirm this, from his physical state during out last sighting of his 11 days ago, he did not look like he would make. This incident is a real pity, especially considering how well he had overcome all the other obstacles thrown at him over the last two and a half years of his life.

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