Monday, 6 July 2009

06th July – Still No Lions, but the other 4 of the BIG 5 seen…

Monday was once again a fruitless day on the lion front, annoyingly with no sign of any lions on the property, and our confused Sohebele pride of lions failed to return from their wayward voyage into the deep corners of our traversing area. Despite this, the game viewing did improve, as did the weather!

The morning started off quietly on the eastern side where we were checking for our lions return, but there was nothing. Palence found one of the herds of buffalo from yesterday afternoon resting on Piva Plains, but they soon got mobile towards Argyle dam. Giyani saw that same skittish young male leopard in the area of the dead buffalo calf, but he once again didn’t hang around for very long. The southern stations picked up on the Nhlangula male rhino north of Nkombi pan, and all the Motswari vehicles got a chance to see him. He was grazing around for a good part of the morning before he settled down into a slumber. Although this male rhino is quite relaxed, he was pleasingly more relaxed this morning than the last few sightings, and even when off-roading after him, he didn’t seem to pay any attention to us, even at close quarters. Heading back to camp, there was some nice general game including a large herd of waterbuck at Makulu dam, a large crocodile out the water, some active hippos, a male giraffe, and a nice breeding herd of elephant that were slowly feeding towards Makulu crossing. I also picked up a hyena making its way towards the vultures that had gathered in the area of the dead buffalo, but there was not much action at the carcass.

In the afternoon, we had a nice drive up north, starting with a giraffe and calf on the airstrip, a couple of warthog sightings, another large male giraffe, hippos at Vyboom dam, and then we found Kuhanya female leopard resting in the open right next to Vyboom dam. While watching her, a huge elephant bull came wandering past us, he had some of the biggest tusks I have seen in the Timbavati, even bigger than Mac or Classic, two of the collared bull’s that roam around Motswari. This bull was also surprisingly in musthe, unusual for this time of the year, and although elephants like that are normally very aggressive, this bull wandered 20m past us without so much as stopping to have a look at us…or the leopard we were watching! Kuhanya later got mobile towards buffalo pan and was left in the area a bit later in the afternoon.

Another couple of bull elephants, kudu, a nice herd of giraffe, and more noisy hippos and baboons at Mbali dam rounded off the day.

I checked the eastern section adjacent to the Kruger National Park on the way home to see if perhaps any lions had come in from the east, but there was no sign of anything. We can only hope that tomorrow some lions return, as this is the longest period we have gone without a lion sighting in the two-and-a-half years that I have been at Motswari.

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