Saturday, 1 January 2011

31st December – Happy New Year Everyone!

Photo of the Day
Happy New Year!!!

Morning Drive
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Airstrip
1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Jaydee, Jaydee Airstrip
6 x buffalo bulls – Karans, Majumbi Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Motswari, Northern Access
2 x white rhinos – Peru, Dagga Boy Rd

Afternoon Drive
1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Jaydee, Airstrip
5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride) – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Motswari, Xanatsi Dam
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Xanatsi Dam Link
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Argyle Dam

Daily Synopsis
Wow, it is almost hard to believe that 2010 has come and gone!  And what a year it has been, not only for Motswari, but for South Africa as whole. 
Without doubt, the biggest news of 2010 was the amazing job that South Africa did in hosting the best FIFA soccer world cup ever!  It was a truly ‘Proudly South African’ moment, and one that the whole country can be very proud of!
Closer to home, Motswari also had a very special year, especially on the animal front.  No doubt the stars of the year were the White Lions of the Timbavati that arrived at the end of 2009, but proved that they were here to stay during 2010!  The leopard population continued to grow with both Rockfig Jnr and Nthombi having cubs of their own that entertained guests throughout the year.  Like wise, in the north, Argyle Jnr continued her amazing run of parenting by raising another two cubs through the first year of their life.  Other leopards like Kuhanya and Nkateko matured and moved on; Kuhanya ahs taken up residence around the lodge, while sadly Nkateko moved very far south of our traversing area and has set up her territory in another reserve. 
The last of the Sohebele lionesses was killed, leaving the three young Sohebele males alone, and without a home.  The continued presence of the Mahlathini males during 2010 meant that the young Sohebeles had to move out of the area, and while we don’t seem them too often, they are doing extremely well for themselves, against all odds, and now occupy our remote eastern sections. 
The rhinos of the Timbavati continued to cause us to run around after them, and were not overly cooperative during the year.  That being said, there were periods when a crash of 8 white rhinos was being seen regularly, as were Mtenga-tenga and Nhlangula male.  Also fantastic news was another sighting of a black rhino in the area; Giyani found him one day in the south, and now has to be one of the few guides in the Timbavati to have seen black rhino twice in his first 3 years!!!
With the turmoil in the lion world up north, it gave the rarer predators a chance to shine; and shine they did!  The wild dog sightings in 2010 were fantastic, and the best they have been for many, many years!  Not only were there at least 3 different packs around, but they were seen regularly throughout the year – the most amazing sighting no doubt being the pack of 10 wild dogs killing a baby buffalo!  Even the cheetahs were far more regularly seen than they have been for close on a decade!  Sightings of a lone male, even close to the lodge, as well as three young females that spent over 6 weeks in the area provided for some special sightings of these rare animals!
As fantastic as 2010 was, we can only hope that it gets even better in 2011!  And the way that 2010 closed out, seems that this is likely to be the case...
The day started off cloudy and cool, and with a small breeding herd of elephants feeding near the lodge.  Following that, I decided (like all Motswari guides) to not go south to see the white lions that had eventually finished their giraffe, but instead we looked for some different creatures.  I tried to track the three Sohebele males from yesterday, but sadly came up empty handed after the tracks headed into very tricky terrain.  I had a generally quiet morning in the east, with not a great deal going on besides a small group of buffalo at Majumbi Dam. 

Elliot was in the west and found 2 white rhinos near Voel Dam, while Marka went to go and see Mbali leopardess as she lazed about in a marula tree near her kill.  After some of the southern stations also found Nthombi female leopard near Elephant Dam, I was getting a bit depressed on missing out on the leopards, well I was until Petros spotted Kuhanya sleeping up a marula tree just off the lodge’s airstrip as we were about to close down at camp.  She eventually spotted an impala and darted down the tree after it, but had no luck before settling down to rest for the morning.
In the afternoon, after a bit of rain, we looked around for Kuhanya, but she was nowhere t be found, and with no tracks to follow up on after the rain, we left the area, but not after enjoying a sighting of a herd of elephants splashing about in Xanatsi dam, much to the dismay of the resident hippo!

Some of the guides went down to Vielmetter to look at the Xakubasa Pride, as they lazed about near Hide Dam and had a drink in glorious afternoon light!  I was most bummed to have missed that, but still went to go and see Mbali as she lay in the shade near her kill.  My new guests had been on several safari’s in Botswana and Zambia and had yet to see leopard, so they were delighted to have been lucky enough to see one on their first drive at Motswari!
Being New Years Eve, the lodge ahd prepared a special sundowner stop for all the guests at Argyle Dam, so the guides all made their way back north and arrived to enjoy a memorable drink stop, with delicious snacks overlooking the dam, where an elephant had been feeding and bathing.
Sundowners at Argyle Dam
Godfrey putting on a look of sophistication (drinking Coke from a wine glass!)
The Rangers: Petros, Patrick, Marka, Difference, Godfrey, Herald and Chad

We all then slowly made our way back to the lodge to begin the party.  After enjoying a scrumptious lamb-on-the-spit dinner, the traditional dancing was followed by some nice music and the sound of popping champagne corks as the clock ticked 12’0 clock and ended a memorable day, and even more memorable year in true African style!

So to all of the followers of this blog, thank you so much for keeping up to date!  We hope you are enjoying the new format, and Grant and I look forward to sharing many more amazing sightings and stories with you in 2011, so please keep on reading!

All the best for 2011!!!
Chad Cocking and all the Motswari Staff


  1. Gabriella Bianchi1 January 2011 at 18:37

    Hi Chad and Grant
    A very happy new year to you and all the Motswari Staff. May all your dreams and wishes come true in 2011! Have a great year. Thank you for the blog and the great pictures! Hope to see you in November again. Take care. Lots of love from Swizterland. Gabriella

  2. Hello Chad, Marka, Eliot and everybody !

    Thank you for keeping in touch with Motswari with this blog.
    I like it very much !
    And happy new year to you !
    Have a great year 2011 !

    a friend from France