Tuesday, 7 December 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Part 3

Over the last year, despite not working at Motswari, I was fortunate enough to be able to do some free-lance guiding there, as well as just visit on holiday! Reading Grant’s blog updates made me rather envious of all the sightings that the guides and guests were seeing, and were probably a large factor in me visiting the area every 3 or 4 weeks. However, as Grant will attest to, it was almost as if the animals pre-empted my arrival and seemed to disappear when I arrived, stayed hidden for a few days, then came out the minute I left! It was almost uncanny the number of sightings the guys would have in the days following my departure. Naturally I got a bit of a complex about this, and it was not until I went through some of my photos and actually considered what I saw that I realised I had not been as unlucky as I had initially though!

I have thus decided to share with you all a few of my images and sightings over my last various trips to Motswari since I stopped working almost a year ago!

August 2010

The last of my trips that I haven’t reported on took place in August; I visited twice, once to help out with a bit of guiding, and again, Motswari provided some special moments!

Graceful Kudu
Elephant Bulls at Sohebele Dam
Raft of hippos at Vyeboom Dam
Argyle Male
Probably the most memorable of the sightings took place on the day I arrived. The guides had gone for over a week without any lion sightings. It thus didn’t please me to hear this, but that soon changed when we got a radio call from one of the camp attendants at a private camp on the one property Motswari have sole-traversing on. He informed us that he had seen vultures and heard lions roaring to the south of the camp, so we went to follow up, finding a large herd of buffalo in the process.

It was a herd of several hundred buffalo moving steadily towards the vultures. By this time, we had established that the three Mahlathini males had killed a large buffalo bull in the area, and the buffalo were heading straight towards them! We went ahead and sat with the lions, who were still at the kill, but watching the approaching buffalo intently. As the first few buffalo bulls leading the herd saw the lions, they ran in, and the lions quickly gave way and moved off!

The buffalos then sniffed the day-old carcass inquisitively and kept an eye on the lions, with one buffalo bull particularly annoyed at their presence and he chased them a couple of times, before the lions would half-heartedly chase them back. This little game went back and forth for some time, but the lions, being so well fed, were not intent on doing anything more than staying out of trouble, and made no effort to attack the herd; but I wonder if they didn’t have a kill how different their reaction would have been?

Mahlathini Male's versus a herd of buffalo!

In addition, on that trip I saw the Timbavati males, as well as a nervous, mature male lion from Klaserie. Leopards were out and about, and we had a nice sighting of a long forgotten friend; the Machaton Male leopard, who used to be around when Mangadjane was still the dominant male! I have often wondered where he got to, but it seems he is still around, and is likely to be the male that is often seen at Lily Pan, the place I found him sleeping one night! A couple days later, grant had him at Java Dam several kilometres to the east; so he clearly gets around. He was reasonably relaxed at night, and didn’t run off when we approached, although we approached very cautiously. He has potential to be a good dominant male in the future.

Machaton Male
Vyeboom Dam Male
Hyena waiting below the leopard for any scraps that may fall from his kill

Vyeboom Dam Male - getting very relaxed!
Another surprise was finding how relaxed the young Vyeboom Dam Male leopard was getting. I was out on
drive one morning when Herald found him with a fresh impala kill up a tree near camp. I guess he didn’t have a choice about running away, as with three hyenas below him, he had no where to go. Not that he would have in any case! At first I was convinced it was Argyle Jnr, as he seemed so relaxed in the tree, and he looks a lot like his mother – I was thus a bit disappointed it wasn’t Argyle Jnr, as she had been seen on our airstrip the day before with her two cubs. Still, we had a great sighting of this young male, and I even returned after breakfast and watched him lying on the ground a few metres from me, quite happy with my presence! He was less happy when the hyenas came towards him, and he again sprung up the tree and went to sleep just above us! It was wonderful to see him so relaxed, and while I was sad to head back to Johannesburg, it was fantastic news to hear that he stayed with his kill for another 5 days and became even more relaxed over the course of the week; yet again our patience has paid off, and this once skittish male can now provide great viewing!

Elephant Herd below Mbali Dam

Shongile Female resting on a fallen Marula tree amongst the autumn Mopane Trees


  1. Thanks for the Nice Article and Pics If You have a Video of Mahlatinis Vs Buffalo then please do share it with us in the Past we had Battle at Kruger and now it will be interesting to watch Battle at Motswari.

  2. thank you so much for the comment! sadlu no video, but if you search on youtube for battle at motswari, there is a video of some lions going after a buffalo in front of the lodge!

    im off to the lodge tomorrow, so hope to get some more pics and stories to share...and maybe a video too!



  3. Amazing pictures as ever, thanks for sharing them.