Wednesday, 5 January 2011

5th January – Mahlathini male lions do some other special friends!

Photo of the Day
Mahlathini male having a scratch
Wild dog with an impala's head!

Morning Drive
3 x lions (Mahlathini males) – Peru, Voel Dam
10 x wild dogs – Peru, Sohebele Plains
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Xinzele Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Karans, Southern Access
4 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Lover’s Leap

Afternoon Drive
3 x lions (Mahlathini males) - Peru, Voel Dam

5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride) - Vielmetter, Bluethorn Rd)

1 x leopard (Argyle male) - Argyle, Oppikoppie Rd

10 x wild dogs - Mbali, Woza-woza cutline

1 x breeding herd of buffalo - Argyle, Argyle Rd

1 x breeding herd of buffalo - Peru, Sohebele Dam

1 x breeding herd of elephant - Argyle, Argyle airstrip

2 x elephant bulls - Argyle, Peru Entrance

1 x elephant bull - Peru, Woza-woza Cutline

Daily Synopsis
After the abundance of leopard sightings yesterday afternoon, we were all keen for some lions; especially as two male lions spent the early hours of the morning roaring on the airstrip!  Marka went to check up on a report from Grant that the Mahlahtini males had returned from their mating session with a Timbavati female to the north-west, and were seen near Voel Dam, while Elliot and I tried to track down the two roaring males near camp.
Marka soon found the Mahlathini males in the clearing next to the dam, while our trackers set about on foot following up on the lion tracks.  I made my way towards the Mahlathini males while Elliot gave the trackers a hand in the east.  As it turns out, Elliot was well rewarded albeit not on the lion front, but rather something much more special like a pack of 10 African wild dogs – our pack had returned!  While checking the area for tracks of the male lions, a wild dog ran across the road in front of Elliot, and at the same time Giyani picked up another 2 wild dogs on Western Cutline.  Eventually the pack reunited and moved towards Sohebele Plains where they managed to catch a young impala in the mopane thickets.  While we all missed the kill, I still arrived shortly afterwards and got to watch some of the wild dogs running around and playing with pieces of the impala! 

African wild dogs bathing after a successful hunt

While the wild dogs were indeed the highlight of the morning, there were some other high points.  The Mahlathini males were posing beautifully in the open clearing and made for great photographic subjects. 
Mahlathini males
I also visited a large breeding herd of buffalo to the east of Vyeboom Dam/Concrete Crossing.  Johannes saw a breeding herd a bit further south, and there were another two breeding herds of buffalo located elsewhere this morning too that our guides didn’t go to see.  I also had four buffalo bulls join me for coffee at Lover’s Leap.
Coffee with some buffalos
Breeding herd of buffalo sporting many injuries and infections
Giraffe in the buffalo herd
Johannes tried to relocate the Xakubasa white lions from last night, but the tricky terrain made it difficult for him – now if it was difficult for Johannes that is like saying it was impossible to find them, as he is, without being biased, the best tracker in the Timbavati.  Perhaps we needed him to help with the other two male lion tracks too, as our trackers had no luck there after spending most of the morning tracking.
Thankfully, Johannes is not one to give up, and after relocating the three Mahlathini male lions sleeping at Voel Dam, he headed south to go and track down the white lions, and this time with success!  He watched them playing around for a while as one of the white lions rested on a termite mound, but overall, they just slept.
The north was a hive of activity, with most of the sightings being recorded there.  There was a large breeding herd of buffalo at Sohebele Dam that drank and then moved onto Sohebele Plains.  Elliot also had a large breeding herd on Argyle Rd
breeding herd of buffalo at Sohebele Dam
On the elephant front, there were a couple of sightings of elephant bulls, as well as Elliot’s sighting of a breeding herd of buffalo.
I was planning my afternoon around getting some more great action around the wild dogs, but strangely, they didn’t rouse to action all afternoon, and slept in a drainage line until they were left shortly before nightfall.  Thankfully Argyle male leopard was a bit more cooperative as he lay sprawled on the branches of a large marula tree to the west of Motswari.  I arrived after dark, and in the light rain he eventually woke up, climbed down the tree and went wondering off into the bushes.  We followed him for a while, but he gave us the slip and we headed back to camp to enjoy a dinner on the veranda as the rain poured down.

Argyle Male
Egyptian Geese
Young male giraffes 'necking'


  1. Gabriella Bianchi6 January 2011 at 08:27

    Hi Chad, excellent, stunning photos of the wild dog with an impala's head! That's fantastic! Well done. Thanks for sharing. Your blog always makes my day.

  2. Thanks so much Gabi!

    hope you enjoying all the viewing has been great since i got back!

    hope you are well...