Andrew started driving on Tuesday afternoon and had a great sighting of Mbali female leopard stalking and almost catching an impala. The next morning, he found two white rhino’s in up north, which is a rare sighting indeed! I joined in with the drives on Wednesday afternoon, and had a great welcome back to the Timbavati. The general game was enjoying the warm winters day, and we managed to tick off impala, warthogs, waterbuck, kudu, zebra and an elephant bull, but along with them, we saw Mbali and Kuhanya together near Peru dam. Johannes found these two leopards wandering around in the Nhlarulumi riverbed towards Peru dam. I arrived and had Mbali wander off back to the north, and Kuhanya went her own way, and went and lay on the dam wall near some hippos. She later moved off to the north as well, but I had left her to go and see the remaining members of the Sohebele pride, all six, who were at Voël dam.
They were once again looking decidedly hungry, but at least they were all still together. During the last 10 days, the five sub-adults were seen with a waterbuck that they had killed, and they were strangely enough joined by their father!!! The Sohebele male returned after another leave of absence, and was seen by the trackers on several occasions on the property. The remaining adult female also seemed to keep in the company of her daughter, while the three males and youngest female stayed together for extended periods. We just hope that whatever combination they move around in, they can get enough food to keep the nursing mother healthy – although we have still not seen any signs of her cubs.
Anyway, after my sundowner, we bumped into the Sohebele pride again, but we didn’t spend too much time with them, instead we let them hunt on their own. Palence managed to find Mbali later on in the evening at Mvubu crossing. We were then treated to three bull elephants in camp that night, and once more drinking from the pool!
Thursday started off bitterly cold but the suns rays soon warmed us up and brought a few of the animals to life. Down south, Nthombi female leopard had been found near elephant dam with the remains of a duiker kill stashed up a tree. She was largely inactive during the morning choosing instead to sleep of her fat belly, quite uncommon for her! We also had some luck relocating the Nhlangula male white rhino near Sweetwater pan. Although it took us some time, as every time the trackers located him, he moved off! Eventually Godfrey and I managed to locate him in the vehicle and had a nice sighting of him. On the way home, Andrew found a large herd of elephants near Makulu dam, and I found a herd of about 250 buffalo near Karans trough. During my bush walk, we found two bull elephants, which are always exciting to walk into! Later that afternoon, just before lunch, there was an elephant drinking out of the pool!
Thursday afternoon was not bad at all. Although we were unsuccessful in locating the three Mahlathini male lions that had been reported in the morning, we did have a nice sighting of that large buffalo herd feeding in the open at Sohebele dam. Palence was watching some elephant on our airstrip when the Argyle male leopard came strolling past, lay in the middle of the airstrip for a while, and then eventually headed off in the direction of the camp. There were a number of large bull elephants seen around the camp once again, as well as a group of five near Argyle dam where the buffalo herd had also settled. I also saw a nice herd of elephants near Mbali dam, and it was good to see a number of young calves amongst them.
So, all the Big 5 have been playing along, and it is great to be back in the swing of things!