Sunday, 10 October 2010

Nature's Balance.

Hello, so it's been little over a week since our last post, so thought it high time to bring you up to speed or at least let you know we still alive and kicking! Truth be told things have been a little quite, well let me rephrase that, it has been little quite from what we have become accustomed to, but I guess our quite and yours may differ slightly. Think we have been spoilt and have begun to take things a little for granted so I guess it's nature's way of balancing things and getting us back to appreciating both big and small.

Having said that, the quantity of sightings may be down a little but the quality is as high as ever and with fewer vehicles out we are able to spend more time in sightings. Lions have again kept us on our toes, with us never quit knowing whether they will grace us with their presence. Our longest stretch without seeing Lion is still at four days, but only just. It all started well with a sighting of the Mahlatini's on a Buffalo kill, a surprise lay in store as they where not alone, but were joined by four females and an adolescent male, otherwise known as The Voeldam Pride, visitors from the North West territories. They must have made the kill and the Mahlatini's joined them at a later stage, cause if the Mahlatini's made the kill, we all know they would never of shared it. It's amazing how quickly a Buffalo disappears when eight Lions feed on it and once finished they all disappeared.

It was over the next couple of days that it looked like our Lion drought would extend beyond the said four days but we were saved in extra time by a splinter group of The Voeldam Pride.

We were also fortunate enough to visit some old friends in the Jacaranda Pride, well at least a couple of members. They too had killed a buffalo, this one being an adolescent which was quickly finished by a male and three females. It was an interesting sighting as the male dominated and would not allow the females access to the carcass, so things were pretty tense. We didn't approach heeding the males warnings, but it didn't stop one of the larger females trying her luck but she was quickly put in her place though and returned to the others forced to eat scraps.

During the same period as the Mahlatini's and their Buffalo we were also visited by the pack of ten Wild Dogs that have been in the area over the past month. They stuck around two days before heading North, this time unfortunately not killing a Buffalo, or fortunately if should happen to be that Buffalo. We did have a nice sighting of them though, we arrived just as some returned to the pack waking them from their avie nap. When Wild Dogs reunite there is much excitement followed by submissive behaviour, usually whimpering, yelping, crouching and licking of the arrivies lips, all in the hope of a meal that is regurgitated by the constant begging. On this occasion the hunt must have been unsuccessful as the Dogs did not regurgitate anything and it was not long before the pack collected and got mobile, presumably on the hunt.

Our trusty Leopards did not let us down during our time of need, with sightings of all our regulars. It was nice to see Vyeboom Male and how relaxed he has become around the car, not taking much notice of us.

Argyle Male also made an appearance, although relaxed round the vehicle he is looking like he has been in the wars and has some nasty cuts behind the right ear. He is also looking the thinnest I've ever seen him and could do with a good meal.

Zakumi is back to using the Hide at Hide Dam as her “kaya”( home)! It also looks like she may have made her first Impala kill, as she was found feeding on a smallish Impala without mom, which is somewhat unusual. Of all the Leopard sightings, I think watching Mbali hunting was the highlight. It also illustrated to my guests exactly the energy, time and patience invested in a hunt and how difficult it is to be the predator. We watched for around an hour as she crept up on a Sharpe's Grysbok that was lying in amongst some thick bush. You could see every muscle in her body flex as she stalked ever closer, placing every footstep with precision, eventually getting into pouncing range. When the time came she lunged forward but the Sharpe's Grysbok had chosen its resting place well and it required Mbali to hop between branches before being able to pounce, thus allowing the Grysbok those vital seconds to make its escape. Totally captivating!

After a couple days off drive we started back on the weekend and best you keep an eye out on the next post as we already have plenty of interesting developments that will be coming to a screen near you mid week! Till then, take care, Grant.


  1. nice to be seeing some different lions in the area again....sure it wont be long before those prides start establishing themselves more and more in the area....

    i wonder of that is the voeldam pride or just an off-shoot of the jacaranda pride? will have to look at the pics, but the voeldam pride have been MIA for ages! wow, i think i last saw al them in the beginning of 2008! not even sure what the composition is there now, so could well be them...and as one of the mahlathini males was mating with one of the females last year, they do know each other, so maybe that is why there was not so much animosity...on the bright side, at least they havent killed any female lions for a while!!!

    not good to hear about argyle male! sure he will pull through, he isnt a beast for nothing! wonder what caused the injuries? cant imagine another male leopard taking him on, i dont know of any northern males that would be able to challenge him? maybe that Goya Rd male? Andrew says he has a nice male around his camp on De Luca, Ntambo male, but not sure where he fits into the scene...also good to hear vyeboom dam male is now getting much more relaxed...good work on the guides behalf to build up his confidence...

    and cant believe what good wild dog viewing you guys have had this winter, dont know of any time in the recent past when the sightings have been so consistent through winter...sure good viewing of them will continue into summer, they normally spend a lot of time around the northern timbavati from november to february....

    and whose hyena den is that? rockfig clan or xinatsi clan??? and where about it is?

    cool man, i cant wait to get back....14 more sleeps and im there! make sure the wild dogs hang around (but i wont complain if they run off to the north!!!!)

    seen you in a couple weeks bud



    oh yes....i suspect nkateko might still be alive, but living on Ngala - i saw a pic posted on their site by a new guide, and even from the small thumbnail i am sure its her - just waiting for him to reply to my email and i will let you know....not good she has made her home down there, but good to think she might still be alive - maybe she pulls a rockfig jnr stunt and returns to vielmetter one day to give birth to her own cubs!

  2. i didnt hear from that guy yet, but managed to get a bigger pic of their site, and it is nkateko!!! the guide is new, so probably been there no longer than 3-4 months at most, which definitely puts her alive after the time dale found that leopard carcass...

    guess the sad thing is that she has probably settled down there and wont look to be returning too soon...guess we have to wait until she is pregnant and comes back to vielmetter to have her cubs!

  3. Hi Grant, have you ever seen that young lioness again that you wrote about in april/may that was nearly killed by some other lions as she tried to feed from the carcass? You sais she was the last one of her pride. Warmest greetings, Maike

  4. Maika, sadly that lioness, Shingalana, was never seen again after that attack on her by the White pride...although no one ever found her body, she certainly died from the injuries.

    You are right, she was the last lioness of her pride, the Sohebele pride. All four lionesses of that pride were killed by different lions within a 10-month period, and agaisnt all odds the three skinny and sickly-looking young males were the ones that survived! It is almost unbelievable to be saying that, i wrote those young males off in almost every sightings report i did, it just did not seem possible that they would make; i had times when my guests asked me not to go and see them because it was too depressing. Miraculously these three males are still alive, and despite having moved out the area, they still pop in from time to time and pay us a visit - they have progressed so much that they even go after buffalo herds, just like 'normal' male lions should do! I havent seen them since february, but they apparently do look in much better shape than they used to...maybe in time to come they will return permanently to the area to rule it, just like their legendary father did for so many years!

    Grant, i hear you guys have the Mahlathini males on a giraffe kill and the Voel Dam pride on a buffalo what 'lion drought' are you talking about??? hahaha! i just hope they stick around for you guys...265 hours and i will be on my way back.......i cant wait :)

  5. Greetings, The Chad!

    You would be right on all accounts, except that we are now uncertain of the fate of the one Sohobele Male, but the other two are good and with a little more luck they will follow in their legendary fathers footsteps and rule supreme. We may even see a coalition between the Mahaltini's and the Sohobele's, can you imagine the power they would possess, you could be looking at another "Mapogh". Thats the beauty of it all, you just never know!

    Great news about Nkateko, unfortunate that she has moved so far off though. Dogs sightings have been good and we have them in the area again today, pack of eight, as far as I could tell. The Hyena Den is the Rockfig Clan it was first in the old den on western cutline near hide dam access but now has moved more North, still western cutline near big nigrecence.

    Take care and we'll see you soon!