Thursday, 12 November 2009

1st November to 08th November – Good Start to the Month

Greetings again! I have returned from my weeks leave, and once again missed out on some great sightings here at Motswari.

The two that stood out for me and that I was probably most upset about missing involved our big cats. Firstly Arlene told me how she was enjoying a refreshing dip in the pool one evening while the guests were out on drive, and she was just getting ready to climb out when the Argyle male leopard came strolling down to the lodge’s waterhole for a drink. At first he was a bit hesitant, but soon made his way to the water to quench his thirst after yet another scorching day in the bush. Arlene said he must have spent about 10 minutes around the water before he made his way to the west and disappeared from view!

The other sighting I wish I had seen was not necessarily an exciting one, but it was a welcome return of some old friends! The long lost Voël Dam pride of lions returned to our north western section for the first time in a long time. I have not personally seen this pride of lions since March 2008, over a year and a half ago! When they were last in our area, we had the unforgettable sighting of them with two tiny cubs that we were unaware of; we were sitting watching the at Voël Dam (go figure!) with some near the waters edge (back in the days when there was still water in the dam) while two other lionesses were on the dam wall. I went and parked on the dam wall to watch them, when a third female came out from the bushes to join her pride. The next thing the bushes started rustling, and out came one of the smallest cubs I have seen, and then came another! The cubs were younger than two months old, but walked a great distance with the pride during the night, and were found the nest day at Sweetwater pan along with the pride male, Kuvaviseka. They then disappeared, and we did not see them in the flesh until last week; although in August we watched the Mahlathini males’ mating with a lioness which we believed was from the pride. While the pride had grown to twelve members (so I was told from guides in the Klaserie), when our guides saw them last week, there were only six lions present; four lionesses and two youngsters. Palence told me that they were not looking in the best condition, and looking quite hungry; a possible explanation for them moving to the periphery of their territory in search of a meal. They only stayed for one day and then moved back to the west, but I hope that they will not take another year and a half to return! (Although, coming to think of it, Morris did report seeing four lionesses on the Timbavati main road one evening as he was returning to Motswari, so maybe they do visit us more than we realise)

Other sightings for the week included the Mahlathini male lions on two occasions, the Sohebele pride was seen fairly regularly (nine sightings over the week), but sadly split into two groups again; one consisting of the lioness and two young males, and then the other young lioness and the third male are together. There were no reported kills during the week.

On the rhino front, the two male rhinos are still making their presence felt in the south and were seen on several occasions in Nhlangula male’s territory. He too was seen with pleasing regularity, but not in any confrontational encounters with the former group.

The buffalo and elephant herds were around, even in front of the lodge, but not overly prolific during the week; the extremely dry and hot conditions that persisted made the large dams on the Nhlarulumi riverbed attractive to these groups of animals, but we shall have to see how long its magnetic influence can last as the rain starts to fall more regularly to the south.

The leopard viewing seems to have been good, although they don’t appear to have been as ‘abundant’ as they were just before I went on leave. They guides recorded sightings of a large unknown male leopard in the north-eastern section of the Umbabat, Kuhanya female leopard , Vyboom Dam young male, Nkateko female (4 sightings), Argyle Jnr female, Argyle male, and an unknown female near Java camp.

So that was our last week of sightings at Motswari, and I hope you are ready for the next few weeks of blog updates!


Chad Cocking
Motswari Guide

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