Saturday, 18 July 2009

17th July – Klaserie Pride of Lions with Buffalo Kill

Friday proved to be another very god day of game viewing for the Motswari guests, and barring rhino, great sightings were had of all of the other members of the Big 5.

The first thing I heard when I walked out of my house this morning was a chorus of alarm calls from a herd of impalas near the northern end of the airstrip; either some lions had wandered past camp, or more than likely, there was a leopard nearby. We headed over there to check what was going on, and were greeted with the sight of four hyenas of the resident clan on the airstrip, their focus was on something, but we couldn’t find anything. There was also a large male giraffe walking on the airstrip just as the first rays of the sun started to colour the landscape. There were also five buffalo bulls found not far from camp.

Elliot and Herald went to have a look at Mbali female leopard and her kill from last night, and in the interim, she had been joined by her daughter Kuhanya. Kuhanya was up the marula tree playing with the little pieces that remained of the carcass while Mbali was lying on the ground nearby. My guests and I had seen great leopards over the preceding days, and I was in the mood for some large herbivores…or at least I was until I heard the radio call that a pride of six lions had been found on southern Vielmetter with a fresh buffalo kill! This pride was tentatively identified as the Klaserie pride of lions that very occasionally come into the Timbavati from Klaserie in the west. The last time we saw this pride was almost a year ago when they too killed a buffalo bull in a similar area, but the pride was much larger then, and also far more nervous of the vehicles. I have my suspicions that the Mahlathini males might have originated from this pride. Anyway, I headed south, and after seeing some good general game on the way, including warthogs, impala, waterbuck, baboons and kudu, we arrived at the sighting and got to watch one of the females busy feeding on the buffalo that they must have killed at some stage during the night. There were three other females that we could see, but they were spread out lying in the shade and in the long grass.

At Makulu dam there were more giraffe, waterbuck, two large crocodiles, and some distant hippos. Giyani also saw the five members of the Sohebele pride of lions at Mbali bush braai where they were having a drink an the southern end of Mbali dam, but according to him, they still haven’t eaten and were looking very thin. Elliot then bumped into three leopards on his way back to camp, Argyle Jnr female leopard and two of her three sub-adult youngsters. She was heading back towards Motswari airstrip, an area she had been in the morning, and a good sign that she possibly made a kill.

The afternoon was just as good, and I managed to relocate Mbali and Kuhanya female leopards, still in each others company, but they had finished their steenbok kill and were near Francolin pan. I didn’t spend too long with them, instead I went to go and have a look at a herd of about 200 buffalo moving away from Lily pan through the Mopane thickets. It was great to be surrounded by these gregarious animals. Godfrey and Elliot had a great sighting of a breeding herd of elephants drinking near Concrete crossing, and it is nice to see the herds moving back into the area; they have been a bit scarce over the last couple of days. There was also good general game near Mbali dam, with waterbuck, a herd of giraffe and lots of impala being seen.

Earlier in the drive, Elliot had found a drag mark for a leopards kill, and found where Argyle Jnr female leopard had stashed an impala kill on the banks of the Sohebele riverbed just west of our camp, and Elliot also got visual of at least two leopards, but it was in a really awkward spot, and there was no good visual to be had of the leopards and their kill, so he left the area.

The highlight of the drive for me though was to return to the Klaserie pride of lions on their buffalo kill, and to watch all six lionesses feeding on the remains together. The sights and sounds of this were quite something. They were much more relaxed this afternoon and evening, and didn’t pay any attention to the land rovers. It will be interesting to see if this pride ventures into our western sections a bit more regularly in the near future!

The drive then closed with four bull elephants drinking at Trade Entrance pan near camp, and we also had thee buffalo bulls visit the camp waterhole during boma dinner to round off a great day.

I am going on leave in the next few days, and as a result won’t be going on game drives for a while, so I will be back with my blog updates at the end of the month.

Until then, keep well!


Chad Cocking
Motswari Field Guide

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