As promised an update from the weekend and a little news to keep you abreast of the latest developments. So, you should already know that we are going to be talking Lions! This all comes just after I went to great lengths to explain our lack of Lions and how we have been struggling of late with the “King of Beasts”, must have something to do with Murphy's Law.
It all started Friday afternoon with Herald finding the Mahlatini's ( three large male lions) on a female Giraffe kill. We all thought they had vacated the area after killing a Buffalo less than a week ago, as we had found no tracks or sign of them, trust Herald to follow up on a hunch and three day old tracks, the man must be part bloodhound to have found them! At the same time part of the Ross Pride popped up in the South Western corner of our traversing area. Choosing to respond to our less regular visitors we headed South to the six sleeping Lionesses at Sweetwater Pan. Irish Luck, the counter balance to being a Murphy, was not with us and as we sat on standby, the Lionesses got mobile into a very tricky area, made only more difficult by the failing light. To cut a long, frustrating story short and one that I would rather not recount, we failed to relocate the six Lionesses and headed back to Motswari being the only vehicle not to have seen Lion that afternoon, you can only imagine how much fun pre-dinner drinks were round the fire as others recounted all their Lion tales.
The following day at least started with the guarantee of the Mahlatini's and their Giraffe, and after checking things in the North we headed in their direction. Arriving at the sight we found the dead giraffe but no Lions, here we go again! As there was still plenty left of the carcass we knew it was one of two things, they had gone for water or they were lying a short distance away digesting their nights feast, the fact that there where no hyena's or vultures present at the carcass, it pointed to the latter. Driving past the carcass we didn't have to look far to find them, all very full bellied, panting, drooling and looking extremely uncomfortable, doing what Lions do best, sleeping. While spending time with them I got a message that the guys also had found the three Sohobele Males in the North. It has been some time since we last saw them and it's always a wonder where they've come from and where they've been. Needless to say it's always great to see that they are still alive and are starting to get the tell tale manes of the old Sohobele Male, their dad. They have the genes to be big beautiful Lions and if they could only feed themselves a little better they would achieve their potential, but for now they remain skinny, scraggly, Sohobele's.
Afternoon drive was to expose another Lion, this time it was a Timbavati Male that had dispossessed Ntombi ( female leopard) of her Steenbok kill. The Sohobele's had also made their way further North and were found resting in the shade near Argyle Dam.
Having not visited the Sohobele's the day before we set out the next morning with the intention of finding them, never an easy task as they are prone to travelling long distances in any direction and at any time. Checking all their favourite haunts we came up empty handed and it appeared they had once again become ghosts. Shortly before taking a coffee break we received an invitation from the guys in the South, they had found the Ross Pride again, well most of it, and this time it was more of a sure thing as they had killed a buffalo. Guess coffee could wait! We are starting to see them more often in the South West and they have taken to slowly putting a dent in the Dagha Boy (old Buffalo Bull) population in the area. Visiting the sight it was nice to be able to show our guests the Lionesses we had missed out on two nights prior, and instead of six their were now eight of the fourteen. The moment however was short lived as I received news from Andri that he had found one of the Male Sohobele's lying at a water hole with blood covering large parts of his body and he was struggling to get up. Once up, walking was a struggle but he did manage to make his way off to the East. Wanting to check on him we headed to the area but did not have any luck in locating him, which could be seen as a good thing as it means he is relatively mobile, the disturbing thing was, where were his two brothers! They must have got wind of the Mahlatini's Giraffe kill and been caught trying to scavenge a free meal, something that has become their MO and saved their lives a number of times, but possibly costing them the ultimate price on this occasion. Not exactly the way you want to end off a morning drive.
The afternoon drive was filled with sightings that kept our minds off the possible demise of the Sohobele's, well some of the time. We visited a large herd of Elephant that kept us entertained till a call came in that Shangula (large male rhino) had been found. One thing we struggle with more at the moment than Lion, is Rhino, so a visit was definitely in order.
We wrapped off the evening with a visit to fig Jnr and Zakumi to restore nature's cute, cuddly, loving side.
You don't get better news first thing in the morning, specially being a Monday morning, that two Sohobele Males had been found feeding on the scraps of the Mahlatini's Giraffe kill. No guesses where we were heading. On arriving at the site we were dumbstruck and momentarily lost for words and when Jacky did finally speak he uttered in confusion, “ which Lions are these!” There before us sat two adolescent males and a large maned mature Male, all feeding together on the remains of the carcass. It was not long before the mature male got up and moved off a short distance to rest in the shade. I think we both realised who we where looking at but could not bring ourselves to believe it let alone voice it out aloud to one another, but there before us sat our two missing Sohobele Males feeding with a Mahlatini Male, a Lion that had killed their mother and aunt a year prior and severely mauled their brother the day before, this is not to even going into the other numerous hostile encounters between the two prides. We stuck around till the Mahlatini Male left, not quiet trusting him. He proceeded to join his two brothers at Java Dam not far away, where they spent the day resting beside the water and where we left them that evening before heading back to Motswari.
The next morning Herald visited the now non exisitant giraffe carcass not expecting to find anything, but curiosity drew him to the site. To his and all our surprise he found the three Mahlatini's back, resting off their indigestion and no sign of the Sohobele's, yet again disappearing into thin air. Had we not witnessed the events of the days before we would never have known the story behind the scene in front of him.
Till our next post.