Sunday morning started off with Johannes informing us that there was a large breeding herd of buffalo resting just 200m east of Sharalumi Cottage, so he we headed north of camp, past a couple of giraffe, and eventually relocated the buffalo moving to the north west. The herd seemed to be in a bit of a hurry, and headed into a Mopane thicket, into which we did not follow.
We arrived at the den site and found two of the adult hyenas lying outside, but no cubs. The mother of the cubs then got up and walked to the entrance to the den and started making a strange vocalisation and began digging at the entrance, as if she wanted to get inside. From the circumstantial information I had been given, I took this to be a negative sign, and had no sooner told my guests that I was quite sure that the cubs were dead when out came one cub, and seconds later the second one followed! I felt a fool, but a happy fool none the less!
I wanted to head down to Sweetwater Pan to see the Machaton pride, so I went along the Timbavati access road to get there, and got lucky seeing some other lions along the way; it was two of the young males lions from the Sohebele pride, but sadly they were looking in a very poor condition, and had not eaten for a while. They were lying just off the road, but they didn’t do too much besides try and keep warm!
The Mahlathini male lions were a bit more cooperative, and we arrived to find one of them lying with its paws on the baby buffalo, while a second lion was feeding on the adult buffalo in the drainage line not too far away. He was feeding on the carcass, but it was not the easiest area to access, so we had to watch from about 20m away. As we left the lions, we came across a pack of four hyenas waiting just on the periphery of the area, but while the male lions are in attendance, they would be stupid to try anything. They didn’t appear to be from the Rockfig clan, but they were extremely relaxed around the vehicle, so I suspect they are possibly from the western clan. Heading back to camp, we had two brief sightings of one civet and one genet.
In the afternoon, I was searching for some elephant, and thought I got lucky when I found a large bull elephant on our northern boundary, but he was not very obliging and didn’t let us get too close, choosing to walk off when we tried. What made it worse was that we watched him push over a knobthorn tree, then tried to go closer to watch him feed, but as soon as we drove off the road he walked away and left the tree he had just pushed over, so we left him to it.
North of Vyboom dam we saw several groups of impala, two young male giraffes, and a herd of about a dozen waterbuck feeding along the riverbed. From there I went to go and have a look at the Argyle male leopard and his kill. He had dragged the adult impala about 1oom north of its position yesterday, and taken it up a large marula tree, and when we arrived, he was up the tree feeding on the carcass. He was extremely relaxed today, and didn’t pay the least bit of attention to us, and this allowed us to get in to some great positions to watch him feeding.
As for the other guides; Andrew saw two buffalos and four elephants feeding at Sohebele dam, and Palence had a sighting of a lone bull elephant up north before going south to see Nkateko female leopard and the Machaton pride of lions. Nkateko sadly had her impala kill stolen by the hyenas that were busy feeding on it while the leopard wandered around not far away, but at least she had the baby stored out of reach of the hyenas. The Machaton lions were still sleeping near elephant dam, and did not do much during the course of the afternoon until a hyena approached and they chased it off.