Thursday, 16 December 2010

16th December – Mahlathini Males Return

Photo of the Day

Dagga Boy - an old buffalo bull

Morning Drive
4 x lions (Jacaranda Pride – 1 adult lioness, 2 young males, 1 young female) – Mbali, Western Cutline/White Syringa Rd Junction
3 x lions (Mahlathini Males) – Mbali, Java-Mbali Rd
1 x leopard (Mbali Female) – Argyle, Peru Entrance Rd
2 x buffalo bulls – Java, Java Dam Access
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Mbali, Mbali Dam
3 x elephant bulls – Karan's, Karan’s northern access

1 x breeding herd elephant - Argyle, Mangova Rd

1 x breeding herd elephant - Peru, Xinzele Rd

Afternoon Drive
3 x lions (Mahlathini males) - Mbali, Java-Mbali

7 x lions (Machaton Pride - 3 lionesses, 4 cubs) - Tanda Tula, Machaton Plains

1 x leopard (Mbali female) - Peru, Snare Rd

1 x Breeding herd of elephant - Java, Back of Java

1 x breeding herd of elephant - Tanda Tula, Machaton Dam
Drive Synopsis
Mahlathini male after eating his share of the grass!
The morning started off dry at least, and with a nice herd of giraffe near the camp.  While watching them a hyena came walking through the herd.  There was a nice pod of hippos at Sohebele Dam, and they putting on a snorting display before we moved on.  Jacky found fresh tracks for the Jacaranda lions and followed up, finding where they had killed and eaten an impala before going for a drink of water at a nearby waterhole.  Not long after that we spotted them sleeping about 50m off the road, but as the ground was a bit wet in the area, we didn’t drive off road to go closer. 
There were also tracks for the Mahlathini male lions moving back into the area and onto Mbali property, and Giyani soon found them resting just off the road.  We arrived not long after and found them feeding....not on a member of the nearby buffalo herd that Marka and Giyani had seen near Mbali Dam, but rather on grass!!!  It was quite amusing to watch all three male’s eating on the same patch of green grass under a terminalia bush! 
There were also some nice elephant bulls in the area, and Mbali female leopard was back in the area of her little duiker kill, but with the meat being as rotten as it is, cant imagine she will be around for too much longer, especially as she was found sleeping in a drainage line in the afternoon.

Elliot went looking for rhinos in the east, but came up empty handed, yet still enjoyed a scenic trip around that remote part of the reserve.  Grant made a long trip to the south to Machaton Dam where the three Machaton lionesses and their four 5-month old cubs were playing around and suckling in the open making it one of Grant's best sightings of the year.  In addition, he and his guests also had two seperate breeding herds of elephant and some nice general game.

Chad stayed up north and besides kudu, waterbuck, impala, hippo and giraffe, got to see Mbali female as well as the three Mahlathini male lions that had moved into the open, but were still sleepy.  While on sundowner stop several hundred metres away from them, the three lions began to roar to the west, while not far to the north a leopard also began calling - a great way to end another pleasant day in the Timbavati.

Other news from the reserve was that a lone wild dog had been found with an impala kill near Machaton Dam in the morning, but besides another half eaten impala in that area in the afternoon, there were no other signs of the wild dog, and sadly none of the Motswari guides got to see it/them.  Also, the Jacaranda lions had moved into some thick mopane, and were not pursued or indeed relocated later in the evening.

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