Friday, 31 December 2010

29th and 30th December - Cats still feasting!

Photo of the Day


29th December - Morning Drive
5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride with giraffe kill) – Vielmetter, Back 9’s
1 x leopard (Thumbela female) – Kings, Cheetah Plains
1 x Elephant bull – Argyle, Mfene Crossing

29th December - Afternoon Drive
5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride with giraffe kill) – Vielmetter, Back 9’s
1 x leopard (Mbali female with impala kill) – Jaydee, Jaydee airstrip
1 x breeding herd buffalo – De Luca, Mpela-pela Pan
3 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Francolin Pan

30th December - Morning Drive
5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride with giraffe kill) – Vielmetter, Back 9’s
1 x leopard (Mbali  female with impala kill) – Jaydee, Jaydee Airstrip
1 x Elephant bull – Argyle, Argyle Rd
1 x Elephant bull – Peru, Voel Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Buffalo Kill Rd
2 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Horizon Rd
3 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Tawny Eagle Rd

30th December - Afternoon Drive
5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride with giraffe kill) – Vielmetter, Back 9’s
3 x lions (Sohebele Young males) – Borneo, KNP Cutline
1 x leopard (Mbali female with impala kill) – Jaydee, Jaydee airstrip
1 x breeding herd buffalo – De Luca, Mpela-pela Pan
1 x buffalo bull – Scholtz, Scholtz Big Dam
3 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Lover’s Leap
1 x buffalo bull – Argyle, Argyle Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Motswari, Camp Dam

Daily Synopsis
So Grant and I were away from the lodge on Wednesday, but I arrived back to resume my full time guiding at Motswari on Thursday!  It was a good day to return, as hearing that both the white lions and Mbali leopardess had kills meant that I could take a leisurely trip down to see them, even if they were in the south.  I bumbled around up north after a warm day, but the large dams were not overly productive, with just some impala and a few buffalo bulls showing themselves.  A breeding herd of elephants did arrive to drink at the lodge’s waterhole after the game drives had departed.
Marka and Elliot spent their afternoons in the east, and Marka tracked down the three young Sohebele male lions – my long last friends that I never thought I would see again!  From their accounts, the three males were looking in very good shape and had grown nicely in their few months absence.  I was extremely tempted to go see them, but knew that my guests wanted to see leopard, so I stuck to the west and went to see Mbali.  She was lying in a marula, very typical of a leopard, except she had chosen the smallest and worst marula I had ever seen!!!  She lay there and all we saw was a flicking tail, flicking because of some serious wounds she had picked up!  They didn’t look great, but she should recover no problems.  As it was getting darker, she climbed down and went to her impala carcass that was stashed under a nearby weeping wattle and began feeding.

Mbali, her kill and her wounds

 As it was getting dark, we left her and went to go and see the white lions on their giraffe kill that was near hide dam.  The one white lioness and the young male were feeding when we arrived, but soon gave up and went to lie with the others to watch the activities of the Rockfig hyena clan members, 7 of which were walking about in the clearing near the kill.  Sadly no real interaction was seen, but still great to see these predators together in the same sighting!
Will catch you again tomorrow to see what the last day of 2011 has in store for us!

Chad Cocking

Thursday, 30 December 2010

28th December: All Quite on the Western Front, Make that the Eastern Front To!

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.

Elephant ( 3 x Kambaku's) / Scholtz – Scholtz Access.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Long Road.
Lion ( 5 x XakuBasa) / Vielmieter – Back Nines.

Daily Synopsis.

Heading out on our guests final drive we were still in search of Rhino, getting desperate we headed to the Eastern border with the Kruger Park hoping to catch a unsuspecting migrant from the Park. Things did not look promising as where we once found tracks during the previous months, there were none. We even checked the Rhino middens and along territorial boundaries we knew of for recent signs of activity but as was with the tracks we came up empty handed. Our drive took us through some beautiful parts of the park that wound along the Sohobele River, so missing out on a Rhino went nearly unnoticed. We decided to visit the White Lion sighting to find out what happened over night and whetheror not the Mahlatini's did an about turn and in fact dispossessed the White Lions of their kill.. On our way back West we found tracks for the Mahlatini's, they had attempted to catch a Dagha Boy, after failing they continued their travels to the North East, good news for the White Lions. Before arriving at the sighting Herald had visited and found the Lions resting under the trees, the Hyena's took this as their cue to help themselves to a free meal. As stuffed and suffering indigestion as they were, the Lions were having none of it, stalking and chasing the Hyena's from the kill. On one occasion they chased six Hyena directly at Heralds vehicle, not looking where they were going it appeared they would run right into the side, only turning at the last moment to avoid an embarrassing collision. I bet it got his guests adrenaline pumping. While we were there they were back to being typical cats and sleeping off the mornings excitement.

We wait and see how long they stay at the kill as there was a fair amount of meat left. The Southern stations did mention that they had tracks for two male Lions, more than likely the Timbavati Males, heading straight North. The attention the kill was receiving from the many Vultures and Hyena's was sure to have given away the secret and the location. We are sure it will only be a matter of time before the White Lions receive some unwanted visitors.

Chad will keep you posted of the outcome when he arrives back from leave, as Jacky and I will unfortunately be taking our leave over the next week. So, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2011! Thank you all for your support during this past year and we hope to see you all in the New Year.

The Motswari Gang.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

27th December: Tax Returns!

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Tawny Eagle.
Lion ( 3 x Mahlatini's) / Karans – Mamba Drive.
Lion ( 5 x XakuBasa ) / Vielmieter – Back Nines.

Afternoon Drive.

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Sean's Clearing.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Lion Pan.
Elephant ( 2 x Kambaku's) / Peru – Voeldam.
Buffalo ( 2 x Dagha Boys) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Lion ( 5 x XakuBasa) / Vielmieter – Back Nines.
Lion ( Mahlatini's) / Karans – Mamba Drive.

Daily Synopsis.

After the fun and games of the previous day we woke up pretty excited, also with a few aches and pains truth be told, but after the Wildlife Tax we had paid the previous evening, drive promised to be filled with plenty of returns! Getting off to a somewhat slow start things started to pick up the pace with Giyani tracking the Mahlatini's, and Herald finding a nice breeding herd of Elephants with lots of youngsters in amongst them.

While we spent some QT ( Quality Time) with the herd, Giyani relayed the good news that he had found the Mahlatini's, things where starting to pick up! Shortly after Giyani's good news the southern stations picked up the pack of ten Wild Dog resting beside the Tsharalumi River. We decided to respond to the Dogs first as our guests had not yet seen them. Making our way to the sighting we received news that they had got mobile and crossed the river, as Wild Dog are not afraid of water and quite relish getting wet. This made it near impossible for the station in charge to follow lest they wanted to suffer the same fate as we had done the previous evening. We made our way around to the opposite bank through a crossing that had all our guests holding their breath and I'm sure the thought of, “ oh no, here we go again, these guys must have flat learning curves!” Making it through, there was a deep sigh of relief and a little faith was restored, now to catch up with those Dogs! It however turned out that we faced a unexpected Tax Penalty as we could not relocate them, and after spending considerable time looking in and around the area we decide to cut our loses and head for a coffee break. I guess the disappointment of missing out on the Dogs was offset by the news that the White Lions were found, which we kept as a trump card for after break. Heading via the sighting back to Motswari there lay another surprise in store, arriving at the location there was not only the White Lions but also a female Giraffe they had killed earlier that morning.

A great sighting but a little concerning as the location put them in very close proximity to the Mahlatini's and should the they pick up on the Vultures or Hyena's, the carcass was attracting, they would be sure to head in their direction.

The afternoon saw us travelling  all corners of the reserve looking for Rhino, the only missing member of the Big Five during our guests visit, to both us and the Sabi Sands. Glad we are not the only one's that struggle for this big grey elusive beast at this time of year. Although we did not find our Rhino the drive was very pleasant and the evening provided us with a picture perfect sunset.

After which we decided to visit the White Lions to see if their would be any interaction between them and the many Hyena's that had collected or perhaps an encounter with the Mahlatini's. Arriving on site the surrounding trees were filled with Vultures and a lone Hyena, not quite what we expected!

With their bellies full to near exploding we found the Lions all lying in the road sleeping and not paying anything more than digestion and cooling any  unnecessary energy or attention. Good news that they had not encountered the Mahlatini's and even better news came when Herald mentioned that The Mahlatini's had roused themselves from slumber and had headed East away from the White Lions direction.

Who knows what will happen over night, we'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, 27 December 2010

26th December: Wildlife Tax!

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.

Wild Dog x 10/ Vielmieter – Lower River Road.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Phiva Plains.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Peru – Wild West South.

Afternoon Drive.

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Argyle dam.
Elephant ( 2 x Kambaku's) / Peru – Voeldam.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Argyle Road.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Argyle – Horizon Road.
Rhino ( 2 x Female & calf) / Peru – Argyle Road.
Leopard ( Argyle Male) / Argyle – Peru Entrance.
Lion ( 3 x Mahlatini's) / Vielmieter – Nyosi River Road.

Daily Synopsis.

Not having gone on morning drive I instinctively knew they would see something exciting. Funnily enough the day before I mentioned to the guys that it was going to be a "Dog Day", I had a feeling they would pop up sometime soon as they were long overdue a visit. So shoot me for being a day wrong, typical, Murphy's Law.

I'm going to let the pictures tell the story of our afternoon, but would like to add that we would not have got the great sighting we had of the Mahlatini's had it not been for what happened earlier. However we are still owed major Returns on our Wildlife Tax, well at least until my muscles stop hurting, that is!

Expect amasing things!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

25th December: Christmas Day!

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.
Elephant ( 1 x Kambaku) / Motswari – Verandah.
Elephant ( 1 x Kambaku) / Argyle – Long Road.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / DeLuca – Timbavati/ Umbabat Cutline.
Leopard ( Argyle Male) / Motswari – Verandah.
Leopard ( Shongile) / Motswari – Sean's Clearing.
Leopard ( Kuhanya) / Peru – Malonga Road.
Leopard ( Ntombi) / Vielmieter – Jaydee Access.
Lion ( Jacaranda Four) / Karans – Maghambi Dam.

Afternoon Drive.
Leopard ( Argyle Male) / DeLuca – DeLuca Access.
Lion ( Jacaranda Four) / Karans – Maghambi Dam.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Karans – Kudu Pan Clearing.

Daily Synopsis.

The day couldn't have gotten off to a better start with an early Christmas present awaiting everyone at morning coffee. While sitting on the verandah before drive a large bull Elephant drifted up the riverbed in front of all the chalets slowly and methodically feeding on the grass on the opposite bank. The peaceful scene was suddenly interrupted by the alarm calls of Vervet Monkeys that seek the shelter of the large trees along the riverbank. We didn't rush to investigate as we had just seen a Hyena earlier on skulking around the area,  we did however check to confirm our suspicions. On investigating we discovered that we, or should I say, “I”, was mistaken, for instead of a Hyena there walked a large male Leopard slowly across the riverbed. From his style of walk, backed up by his sheer size, it could only be one, Argyle Male! We gulped down coffee while making our way hastily to the car in an attempt to catch up with our early Christmas gift. Argyle Male is notorious for moving swiftly and can be very elusive when he wants, this was to be one of those times as we could not relocate him. He had eluded us, not even leaving a track that we may follow up on. Thankfully there were a number of witnesses to his crossing of the river as the lack of any sign of him would have led me to doubt his actual presence and the thought that he may have been merely a figment of my imagination. After the initial excitement of the morning, things slowed considerably and it seemed that we were following up on a number of tracks without much joy. It got worse when we received the news that the White Lions were seen crossing into Klaserie and out of our traversing area, chasing after their favoured food, Giraffe! Amazing how the bush can seemingly be so quite yet be set on fire so suddenly, all it needs is a little spark. In this case it came in the form of Ntombi being found  in the South, suddenly all the tracks that were being followed up on led to success, and some!

Elliot successfully tracked down Kuhanya as well as finding Shongile along the way. It would appear the family was gathering for Christmas as both these females are Argyle Males daughters and all three of them were in very close proximity. Not to be left out, Herald located the Jacaranda Four resting on a dam wall, I guess these Lions anticipated another scorcher. It is nice that they have remained in the area, I guess not coming under any pressure from other Lions they may visit more regularly, dare I say settle? Just for good measure the morning was wrapped off nicely with a breeding herd of Elephant. The afternoon drive started in very different conditions, as the toll of the passed three day's heat combined with the moisture about, built up some spectacular looking Cumuli Nimbus clouds on the horizon, and with the wind picking up a dark front was speedily approaching. Our guests were a little hesitant to go out, but after a little persuasion and reassurance that we would stick around camp and the moment it started to rain heavily we would return, we were “A for away”, or should that be “A” for Argyle Male!

If the morning was anything to go by we would not have to travel far from camp anyway! Not getting five minutes out of camp I received a message that Argyle Male had in fact been found not far away, heading to the sighting it looked like it was going to be a race against the weather as it was getting extremely dark and the distant rumble of thunder was no longer distant! Lets just say we'll call it a tie, as on arriving in the sighting it started to spit with rain. While we followed him it got progressively harder with lightening and thunder adding to the atmosphere, but no one seemed to notice as we watched this magnificent specimen. As is Argyle Male's nature he walked us through some very thick and rough terrain that included negotiating some tricky drainage lines and a steep riverbed. All in all, it was not only a wonderful sighting but a great adventure that the weather only added to and enhanced, and by the end of it we hadn't even noticed that we were sopping wet. Not thinking that we would top our little adventure we decided to return to the dry comfort of the camp for a little R&R.

While the majority of us sook shelter Herald persevered and managed to catch up with the Jacaranda Four again, as well as finding a nice breeding herd of Elephant. Well worth staying out for by the sounds of it and making us regret returning a little early, only a little though! Hope that you all had as wonderful a day filled with adventure, to much to eat, fun and a little rest!