The day started off with tracks for two rhinos near our airstrip, but unfortunately Andrew followed the tracks until they went off the property. Herald and myself went to track Nhlangula male rhino whose tracks had been found near elephant dam, and we eventually found him feeding just off the road, not too far south of Nkombi pan. He was quite entertaining as he rubbed against an uprooted tree in an attempt to relieve an itch! He later went to sleep in that area but had moved off the property in the afternoon.
Rockfig female leopard was also found just south of Double Highway, but she moved north onto Vielmeter and towards the Sycamore Fig. She was seemingly hunting something, but the thick bush along the drainage line she was moving in made it difficult to see her in the open. She would occasionally lie down, but was lost when she moved down into the Machaton riverbed after a bushbuck. Her wounded ear is still looking quite bad, but besides that she seems to be in tip-top shape!
Not 500m from the leopard, that large herd of 400 buffalo were approaching Entrance dam for a drink, and it was quite a special sight to see all of the buffalo gathered in one area! We left them and there were still many more buffalo’s making their way down to the water. Godfrey had also found a second large herd of buffalo near Kudu Pan Clearing, and Johannes found a third, but smaller herd of buffalo north of Lily Pan.
Heading back to camp I came across a small breeding herd of elephant on western cutline, but the elephants proved a bit allusive in the morning.
The afternoon was not too bad either, the large herd of buffalo were feeding in the area of Vielmeter camp, there were some sightings of buffalo bulls around too. Godfrey and Palence saw three breeding herds of elephant in the area of Mvubu Crossing, and there were two bull elephants in camp after we returned for dinner.
I tried tracking the three Mahlathini male lions whose tracks were heading along the Sohebele riverbed towards Repair dam, but the bush was too thick to walk in on foot, so we didn’t have any luck. In any case, they found two lions sleeping at Vielmeter trough early in the afternoon, so I slowly made my way that side. After a nice sundowner, I was the last vehicle to go and see the two Sohebele lionesses that had appeared out of nowhere. I am not sure where they had come from, but they were looking surprisingly well considering the circumstances. The lone adult lioness and the 2 year old female seem to be making ends meet, and the youngster actually looked ‘normal’, by Sohebele pride standards anyway! The mother was a bit thin, but still better than the last time I saw her, so I felt quite positive about the situation. The lionesses did give us a good sighting though. Although they had been sleeping all afternoon in typical lion fashion, I arrived after dark and got to see them as they woke up from their slumber and started grooming, and it was enjoyable to watch the affectionate interactions between these two lions. The adult lioness went and had a drink at the Vielmeter trough before they set off on the hunt, and the youngster was even playing a bit with the adult, and continuously rubbing up against her! I just hope that this strong bond is enough to keep them going. We left them heading towards Makulu dam, and with some luck they will have some more hunting success soon. I also heard from the guides in the south that the three Sohebele sub-adult males were seen at Airstrip Dam, which is further south than they have ever been, and deep in the territory of the Timbavati males and the Machaton pride, I just pray that they don’t do anything stupid.
And that was that, another good day’s game viewing at Motswari Private Game Lodge!