Sunday, 7 February 2010

Friday, 5 February 2010

Introduction & Update

Where to begin, guess an introduction would be a good start, hi my name is Grant Murphy, I add my surname not to be formal but to explain the many unusual situations I often find myself in, and that I’m sure to be sharing with you in the upcoming months. So……., I’ve been asked to continue the blog that “The Chad” kept you updated and entertained with about all the goings on at Motswari, subsequently I have come to be referred to as “The Chad’s Replacement”. Here’s hoping that I’m up to filling the big footsteps that he left behind, and in time add some of my own Murphy tracks.

A little background into who’s Grant Murphy, born and raised in Joey’s, (that would be Johannesburg), I am the eldest of three boys, sorry mom. We grew up spending the majority of our holidays traveling the reserves of Southern Africa and this is where I acquired my love for the bush and its wild inhabitants. On leaving school I was drawn by the big lights of the city and embarked on a golf apprenticeship instead of following my heart and studying Nature Conservation. Once the realization that I would never be Ernie Els, I once again was distracted, this time it was the lure of travel, which would last 10 years and take me across the world. Not to sound cliqued, but during my adventures I came to realize that, you can take the boy out the bush but you can’t take the bush out the boy, and with that I returned to South Africa to follow my heart and live and work in the African bush. The past five years I have been based in Phalaborwa helping at my folks lodge while studying and doing freelance work in the Kruger National Park and the surrounding reserves. Looking for something more permanent and wanting to immerse myself in the bush, I put out my CV and after my interview at Motswari I realized this was the place for me, even though I would have to wait three months before starting work at the beginning of December.

So there you have it, the long and short of my life and how I find myself here today.

With that out the way let’s get to the important stuff, Motswari and her wildlife! It’s been an incredible two months and I have seen things that one only dreams about. It all started with the White Lions, some who had waited a lifetime to see, others like Chad, three years, and then you get me who was fortunate enough to see them on my second day, must be luck of the Irish. If that was not enough, we were also treated to the return of “The Wild dogs”. To this, add the numerous sightings of leopards, herds of elephants, buffalo, rhino, various prides of lions and the variety of general game and birds, I had found the Garden of Eden, but all of you that have visited Motswari already know that. I’m not going to go into all my adventures now but I will gradually share them with you as the blog develops (and I learn to type faster). I thought for now, as it has been some time since the last entry I would bring you up to speed on the regulars as I’m sure you all itching to know what’s going on out there.

So here follows a brief update:


As mentioned the white lions were found at the beginning of December and are still with us spending a vast majority of their time in the South of our traversing area around the Sharalumi and Nyosi rivers. The female adults are quite capable hunters and since viewing them, we’ve seen them feeding on waterbuck, warthog and their specialty giraffe, so they are all in good condition and the cubs are growing fast. Speculation has run high on who, where and why they appeared in our area. They where previously believed to be part of the Jacaranda pride, but have now been identified as part of the Timbavati pride, thanks to Lianne, who’s been studying and filming the white lions of the Timbavati over the past couple of months. They originally come from an area called Ntsiri, and we think they have moved into our area to escape the Mahlatini males who have moved into their territory in the north, a wise move as we all know what these males are capable of. Our last encounter with the white lions was a special one which we were fortunate enough to watch unfold over three days, it all started with them chasing a male buffalo into a waterhole…. where it spent the entire day in a stand off with the lions before they finally overcame their fear of water and eventually killed it that evening. For the next 2 days the lions fed on the buffalo before leaving the remains for the vultures.

When the Mahlatini males are not in the north, they occasionally visit us whilst on the trail of the buffalo herds that move south, and have made two young buffalo kills in the area over the past months. The Sohobele pride have not been that active whilst we have been on game drive having only being viewed a handful of times. The majority of these sightings finding them separated in various combinations, but I maintain they are survivors and will all reunite. For the time being they seem to be getting by on scavenging from the bush with the occasional small kill here and there. The last report having the 3 males reunited and the female being seen alone the week before feeding on a buffalo before being chased off a day later by the Voel Dam pride, a group of six skittish lions from the north. As Chad mentioned the dynamic of our lion population is at a very interesting time, add to this the unknown prides that we have popping up in the area at the moment, and it all sets the scene for some exciting encounters, watch this space……………..


This time of year leopard sightings tend to drop, due to having to find them in the thick vegetation. Having said this we have been fortunate enough to have had a lot of sightings of these elusive creatures. For you who have followed the blog for some time I will use the leopard’s names as you have come to know them. Over the last two months we have been fortunate enough to see Mbali who looks like she may be carrying a small surprise for all of us and her daughter Kuhanya, here’s holding thumbs. Speaking of Kuhanya, she has matured into a wise young lady, illustrated while making all the right decisions after spending a day trapped up a small mopani tree that restricted her to standing whilst wild dogs below stole her impala kill and continuously hounded her to slip up.

Over the last couple days, Rockfig Jnr has made a re-appearance but not showing off her two cubs that the southern lodges have had the privilege to witness. Nkateko and Ntombi have also been very active and seen on many a game drive. Still no sign of Rockfig but some believe she has moved to an area that is not often traveled during game drive, will need to drive a reckie one of these days soon. Argyle female was last seen hunting Impala in camp, but that’s a story for another day. On the male side, Argyle male has dominated the sightings with a couple of unknown males being viewed as well.

Wild Dogs

As Chad predicted they made a return mid December. Just goes to show how in tune he is with the bush. We have a pack of +/-15 wild dogs consisting of adults and pups roaming the area. As described under leopards they provided us all with an amazing photo opportunity when they kept Kuhanya up a tree whilst stealing her kill. Due to their nature, guests and guides alike have been spoilt to many a great sighting of wild dogs on the hunt. After a short absence, they have been spotted in the past few days in and around Java.


If there is something that we have struggled with since I have been here, is finding Rhino. This is due to the high rainfall, with water being in abundance it creates dense vegetation, pools for wallowing in and drinking from, ideal conditions you would think, but it also means the rhino don’t need to move much for their daily requirements, making finding them a challenge to say the least. All in all most guests have seen at least one to finish off their big 5 experience.

Buffalo and Elephants

There have been various sightings of breeding herds of Buffalo, but my favorite at the moment has to be the many Dagga boys wallowing in the pools of mud left after the rains.

As with the buffalo, the elephant herds have fragmented, as they do in summer when food is plentiful. The smaller breeding herds of elephants have been very relaxed and allowed us to move amongst them as if we where one of the herd, well at least that is they way it feels. On a personal note, I have a very soft spot for elephant and believe them to be extremely intelligent and fascinating creatures.


You have all followed the progress of the hyena mom and her two cubs which had been moved several times and now have been moved yet again to an undiscovered den. We still see the mother and her clan in and around the area. Last time I saw the cubs they were looking healthy and were extremely playful around the vehicle.

General Game

As usual, the bush would not be the bush without the underdogs… the general game. Almost every drive has had the usual sightings that include the antelope such as Impala, Kudu, Waterbuck, and at this time of year, all their offspring. We have also seen plenty Giraffe, Zebra, and a lone Wildebeest that often makes a guest appearance. On the nocturnal side Porcupine, Genet, Chameleons, Honey Badger, Civet and Jackal being the norm on evening drive, this is not to mention the many Owls, Coursers and Night Jars on the feathered front.

I think that about covers them all, well at least those that I have had the privilege of seeing so far. Apologies for the lack of detail, but I wanted to bring you all up to speed as soon as possible, from here my plans are to describe the game drives in more detail including any interesting animal behaviour that we may encounter while still keeping you in the loop as to your favourite animals. So yes, that would mean more regular updates!

Quick note on the photography front, most guides have recently acquired cameras that we are in the process of learning, not quite Chad standard yet, but give us time. Collectively we will all contribute photos to the blog and in the beginning it will be a work in progress with us continually adding photos. We would also like to extend the invitation to our friends (guests) to submit any of their favourite images or experiences of their stay with us.

As I’m new to all of this, should you have any advice, ideas or feedback that you wish to share with me please feel free to contact me as I would like to make the blog as interactive as possible.

Guess the only thing left to say is, “till our next encounter”.