Wednesday, 12 January 2011

11th January: Mahlatini's!

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.

Lion ( Jacaranda Pride: 2 x Females & 4 x Cubs) / DeLuca – Drongo Drive.
Lion ( Jacaranda Male) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip.
Buffalo ( 2 x Dagha Boys) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Leopard ( Vyeboom Dam Male) / Argyle – Mangovo Road.

Afternoon Drive.

Lion ( Jacaranda Male) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip.
Lion ( Jacaranda Four) / Argyle – Jans Road.
Leopard ( Vyeboom Dam Male) / Argyle – Mangovo Road.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Argyle - Rudi's Road.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Peru – Mpiva Plains.

Daily Synopsis.

Receiving 45mm during the night there were no big expectations set for morning drive, apart from hopefully keeping dry. We had Lion roaring very close to camp in the wee hours of the morning, that Johannes had also seen on the airstrip as he made his way to work. Chad and myself decided to follow up, while Johannes set about looking for his favourite, Leopard. Not less than fifty metres from camp we came across tracks that Jacky said was for Lion, on closer inspection I decided it was a male Leopard, ( what do I know!) and passed on the info to Johannes to follow up and headed for the airstrip. While Chad and I investigated the area we received news from Johannes that what we, sorry I, thought was Leopard tracks was in fact Lion cub tracks. We all decided that it would be better to follow up on the cubs as it has been some time since this faction of the Jacaranda Pride had been seen on our soil. Chad remained in the area following up on the Male, while I headed off with Petros and Jacky to help Johannes and Difference. Joining up the trackers went onto foot and Johannes followed alongside in the vehicle, as tracking Lions with cubs can be dangerous, add to this the fact that the one female is carrying a nasty injury, and it could be career ending. I headed off to check the boundary roads, make sure they had not crossed out, but no sooner had I set off I got a message from Johannes that he found them, turning around I set off in his direction. It was another ten minutes before I joined him, as they were pretty mobile and through some extremely thick vegetation, but the bush bashing olympics was worth it arriving to find two adult females and their four cubs! They looked in good condition and the injured females wound although raw looked clean and on the mend. Chad joined me a little later and we followed them most of the morning as we only got partial views now and then through some very thick bush. Eventually following them to a deep wide drainage line that was flowing from the previous nights rain, typical Murphy's Law, as the bush on the opposite bank opened up but we would not be able to cross and follow them. They hesitated a while before deciding to take the plunge and cross, thus ending our sighting. I'm not going to go into our adventures of trying to get back as that would require a blog of its own.  

While all of this was going on Johannes had relocated the Jacaranda Male while following up on a Leopard that had been seen by Ephraim from Motswari camp. Both Chad and I responded to the Jacaranda Male, and father to the cubs, but did not spend long as he was up to his shy self and buried himself deep in some Mopane. With the amount of rain that fell many of the drainage lines were flowing and there was hope that the Sohobele Dam may overflow, so we headed there to have morning coffee. The dam was full to capacity but not yet flowing over, one more rain storm and we will be there. Curiosity now peaked we headed to concrete crossing to check on the Tsharalumi River and see the levels in Peru and Vyeboom Dams. Both dams were overflowing strongly and a great sight to see.

Peru Dam overflowing

Vyeboom Dam Overflowing

Nhlarulumi River flowing

While Chad had the same idea, along his way Petros noticed something unusual in a Marula Tree, on closer inspection they found it to be an Impala with Vyeboom Dam Male resting below. He too was a little on the shy side and moved off into the surrounding bush. We know this about him, but we also know that he is far more relaxed at night so we will visit him again after dark. Looking back at the mornings sightings, although we had an amazing variety they all seemed to be somewhat shy and hide in some thick bush. (Mahlatini in shangaan.)

At least the buffalo werent hiding in the thick bush!

My afternoon started off with all new guests, so we would be starting from scratch. Knowing we had the Jacaranda Male fast asleep on the airstrip we decided to follow up on the Jacaranda Pride and it's cubs. Chad and I had spent our afternoon trying to relocate them and believed they were not far, more than likely in the block as we had no tracks crossing out. This is why we should leave the tracking to the pro's as Jacky, Petros and Difference quickly proved us wrong and found tracks crossing over. Leaving them to do what they do best, we set off to follow up on our other morning finds. First visit was to the Jacaranda Male, giving him one last chance to redeem himself. He must have sensed this as when we arrived he was lying out in the open, head up and rather attentive for a change, he even managed to utter a low contact call for his brother. Taking full advantage of the opportunity to sit with him out in the open we spent a fair amount of time with him, marvelling at his regaleness.  

Jacaranda/Umbabat Male
Next stop was Vyeboom Dam Male, and then back to fetch the trackers as it was getting late and they weren't having much luck. We had offered to fetch them earlier but they were adamant to stay out, their motto is, “ if they have tracks, they track until they find the animal.” Sitting with Vyeboom Dam Male, I first received the news that Johannes, had once again found the Jacaranda Four, this left me in a predicament as someone needed to go back and fetch the trackers. No sooner had we made the decision that I would go back, Jacky contacted me to let me know they had found the Jacaranda Pride plus cubs very close to the border of our traversing area. Chad was tempted to join me in trying to get across to them but decide to rather visit the Jacaranda Four, a safer bet. It's amazing how when you in a rush to get somewhere that everything suddenly makes an appearance and on our journey there was now all sorts of general game about. To cut a long and very frustrating story short, I did not arrive in time, as the Pride got mobile and moved off out of our traversing area. It wasn't made any easier hearing that Chad was sitting with the Jacaranda Four while they were hunting Impala! Only one thing to do in this situation and that was to stop for sundowners, let the serenity of the sunset accompanied by alcohol dispel the disappointment and frustration, and if I was on break it would mean that I wouldn't have to listen to how well it was going for others. I still believe the reward was worth the risk, anyhow we are now owed wildlife tax, so it's a win win situation in my books, so we wait and see what tommorow holds, but for now it's to go to sleep to the roaring of the Jacaranda Male behind camp.

Another tough day in Africa!


  1. A huge thank you for your amazing blog and awesome pics - never miss a day.


  2. Hi Grant,
    back home it's amazing to see all the pictures you made of the animals I saw just two days ago in reality.. Also your writing is perfect for reflecting my experiences in the bush - thank you so much :-) If you want please contact me via e-mail on (as I have two names, it's not Claudia but Isabelle)
    So be huged with a smile and a little kiss back as I missed this when we left! Claudia Nyala (third name?)