Tuesday, 18 January 2011

16th January – So we eventually found the bag, albeit some distance from home!

Photo of the Day
Machaton cub reminding me what lions look like!
Morning Drive
6 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Xinkovanin Rd North
3 x buffalo bulls – Vielmetter, 1st Sharalumi Crossing
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam Link

Afternoon Drive
3 x lions (Machaton Pride; 2 x lionesses, 1 x cub) – Tanda Tula, Machaton Plains
1 x leopard (Vyeboom Dam Male) – Argyle, Piva Plains
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Scholtz, Scholtz Big Dam

Daily Synopsis
For the third day in a row, we woke up to rain!  This time, it was just a quick 6.5mm that fell before we set out for a morning game, needing a vast improvement on yesterdays performance!
I started off looking for any of the leopards in the north, but had no luck around the lodge and Argyle Dam – only the usual impala, hippo and waterbuck.  I went to see if the lions were still around Vyeboom Dam, but found no fresh tracks indicating that they were still on the property.  I carried on to the west hoping for any sign of rhino, but it was really seeming as though today was not going to be my day again.  I struggled to relocate a breeding herd of buffalo near Hyena Pan, but did find soe of the buffalo bulls in the area.
After a nice cup of coffee at the overflowing Makulu Dam, I headed down to Vielmetter to see if Nthombi would perhaps show herself, but with the run I was having, I wasn’t surprised that she didn’t!  An even rarer species did show itself, and we got to see a nice herd of zebras near Elephant Dam.

There were also more buffalo bulls around, as well as a small breeding herd of elephants in the area, but neither group was cooperating to the level I wanted, so I slowly headed home finding fresh lion and leopard tracks closer to camp.
After breakfast, Grant and Jackie kindly went to follow up on the lion tracks, but sadly they tracked the two Jacaranda lioness for over three hours, only to track them off the property in the north-eastern corner, in the same area they left the reserve last week.

Goliath Heron
I tried to follow up on the leopard thinking it was Kuhanya, but the area in which the tracks led made me think otherwise, and after some time I conceded defeat. 
Impala herd at sunset
Seeing as there wasn’t much happening in the west, I thought I had nothing to lose by checking the eastern sector.  There were a few impala and kudu, but it wasn’t until we got to Scholtz Big Dam and enjoyed 20-minutes with a nice breeding herd of elephants playing in the dam that the drive came to life. 

Elephants swimming at Scholtz Big Dam
There were also some baboons and impala in the area, but it was a radio call I got from the southern stations inviting me down to go and see tha Machaton lions that really lifted my spirits.  I didn’t hesitate to take them up on their offer and slowly made my way south towards Machaton Dam, where two of the lionesses and on of the cubs were lying in a small drainage line on Machaton Plains.  They looked well fed and were largely inactive besides their attempts to chase off the pesky flies.

Machaton Pride's cub
The mother lion moved occasionally, with the one cub soon following her, but there was no sign of the other three that had been with them last week?  I couldn’t get an answer about when they were last seen, but I am hoping that they are all fine.

Machaton Pride
After a drink, I headed back to camp, hearing that Herald had a nice sighting of the Vyeboom Dam male leopard up on Piva Plains near the lodge, so despite just doing a short drive for his late-arrivals, they had a good one!
Hopefully Herald will bring the luck that I need to find some good leopard and rhino tomorrow!


  1. awesome trip report!! hope to see some leopard pics soon! :)

  2. Thanx for lengthening my short stay at Motswari based on your blog! Nice to keep on watching the animals and to see you guys again :-) Rain will stop after I have finished crying on leaving the bush.. So hopefully sun is comming next week again! Enjoy your days off!
    Bye, Claudia