Thursday morning dawned and we were treated to a magical sight of a full moon setting as we departed for our morning game drive. There were tracks for some young male lions near Mvubu crossing, so I went and dropped my tracker off to track the spoor, and he soon found the three Sohebele young male lions. They were looking lean, but in too bad a state. After my coffee I went to pick my tracker up, but the lions had moved, so after a bit more tracking we found them and followed them for about 45 minutes as they moved through the bush towards Sohebele plains. They unfortunately didn’t come across any potential prey, and we left them sleeping as the morning wore on.
Elsewhere, the two Sohebele female lions had been found feeding on what little remained of their impala kill north of Nkombi pan, and Palence and Andrew got to see them looking very well fed as they chewed on the last remaining bones. It is really good to know that the adult lioness can hunt successfully with her two-year old ‘niece’. Giyani also had a lion sighting of his own that morning, and while he was having coffee at Elephant dam, a large breeding herd of buffalo came running past chasing off a lone male lion! After some time, the male lion ended up resting on the dam wall of Elephant dam, and he was identified as one of the Timbavati male lions. Other general game included some nice waternuck, impala, kudu, steenbok and impala.
In the afternoon, Herald found the three Sohebele male lions resting in the same area we left them in during the morning drive, but only he got to see them. The Timbavati male lion was not seen by any Motswari game drives, but he had trailed the buffalo herd for about 5km as they moved to Machaton dam! The Motswari vehicles did get to see the two Sohebele lionesses that had moved to Nkombi pan, and spent the afternoon sleeping off their mightily fat bellies – although inactive, it was still very rewarding to see these fat cats!
Not far from the lions, Nhlangula male rhino was found grazing, and in actual fact I watched him go and rub against and eat the same piece of wood he had been rubbing against and eating three days back! I though that it was quite amusing!
Earlier in the afternoon drive, I had also seen two of the Mahlathini male lions, but they were sleeping in the middle of the Nhlaralumi riverbed, right in an inaccessible area, so we had to view them from a distance. We didn’t spend to much time with them due to all the other lion sightings that afternoon.
Johannes found Kuhanya female leopard up north, east of Peru dam, and Andrew also saw an unidentified nervous leopard near Tamboti wallow. Giyani found a large breeding herd of buffalo near Sweetwater pan, and I enjoyed watching the full moon rise over Makulu dam! General game was not too bad, the usual antelope species, and a couple of owls were out and about.
Friday was also a nice day full of good game viewing. We heard from a neighbouring lodge that Mbali female leopard had made two kills in their camp last night, but that the three Sohebele young male lions had stolen both from her! Although I was upset that we wouldn’t get to see Mbali on a kill, it was still nice to go and see the young Sohebele male lions with some food in their bellies. We followed them as they went to have a drink at a trough in front of one of the camps, and then they rested for the rest of the morning.
Johannes found Kuhanya female leopard not 200m from where the lions were sleeping, so I went to have a look at her as she made a half-hearted attempt at stalking after a duiker, but soon gave up due to a vervet monkey’s incessant alarm calling.
While watching the lions, I had also spotted a distant herd of elephant, so after all the cats, I went to the west of Peru dam to try and find them, and got lucky as they were heading straight for Mbali dam/Mvubu crossing. There were also two buffalo bulls nearby, and after watching the buffalo’s, we left and arrived just in time to watch the 30-odd elephants arriving to drink below Mbali dam wall. It was a really nice sighting, especially with one of the calves drinking milk from its mom.
Heading back to camp, we came across two large bull elephants, a herd of impala, a herd of giraffe and a herd of zebra all feeding just to the north of Vyboom dam.
The afternoon’s drive was also quite good, although the slightly windy weather kept the general game a bit quite. Despite this there were some nice kudu, waterbuck and impala about. There was a large breeding herd of elephants feeding near Java airstrip, and we managed to locate a herd of about 150-200 buffalo feeding north away from Makulu dam, through the Mopane section of the reserve.
Elliot made a long trip to the south to see the Machaton pride of lions, but unfortunately they moved off into an area that was not possible to drive through due to the sensitive nature of the soil, so he and his guests only had a short sighting of a pride members. Herald found Kuhanya female leopard stalking some impala after his sundowner, and spent some nice time following her as she actively hunted whatever she saw. Other sightings included some elephant near Vyboom dam, and some porcupines on our airstrip. The three Sohebele male lions were also found sleeping near Peru dam wall.
So, once again, the game viewing remained rather good, and we hope that it continues for the next few days!