Saturday, 8 January 2011

8th January – Bad Day to Be a Baby Buffalo!

Photo of the Day
Malachite Kingfisher

Morning Drive
3 x lions (Mahlathini males with baby buffalo kill) – Argyle, Hyena Pan
1 x leopard (Thumbela female) – Kings, Double Highway/Bushwillow Way
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Jaydee, Khona Bobesi
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Voel Dam Southern Access
1 x elephant bull, Lily Pan Rd

Afternoon Drive
2 x lions (Jacaranda males with a buffalo kill) – Motswari, Wisani Trough Access East
1 x leopard (Thumbela female) – Kings, Double Highway/Bushwillow Way
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Karans, Timbavati-Umbabat Cutline
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Jaydee, Den Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Mbali, Impala Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Mbali, Mbali Access
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Java, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Java, Marula Overhang
2 x elephant bulls – Karans, Majambi Dam

Daily Synopsis
Saturday was another dry day at Motswari Game Lodge, but only from the point of view of the weather.  The day stated with the good news that the three Mahlathini male lions had returned to the reserve, and were unsurprisingly found in the north-western corner again, near Hyena Pan.  Yet again, these lions had killed another buffalo; this time however it was a young buffalo that didn’t even keep them in the area until the evening drive, and from the tracks, they appeared to follow the same buffalo herd off the property, probably looking for another meal – goodness only knows where they going to put it!
Mahlathini males with yet another buffalo kill and drinking at Hyena Pan
There was a large breeding herd of buffalo found resting in the terminalia thickets north-east of Nkombi Pan, but they didn’t do too much during the morning. 

Also in the south, Nhlangula male rhino had joined up with the four reasonably relaxed female rhinos from yesterday, but they sadly made their way back into the Klaserie before any of the Motswari guides could get down south.  Thumbela female leopard was found separated from her mother again, and I went to see her as she rested high up in a marula tree on our southern boundary, but also being well-fed (despite dropping her impala kill yesterday afternoon!), she was not in the mood to do much besides sleep!
Thumbela female sleeping up a marula tree
Another highlight of the morning were all of the giraffe we saw, with a journey of over 20 being found feeding around S-bend on Peru Entrance Rd.  I also saw some tracks for the wild dogs late in the morning as I was heading home, but didn’t get a chance to follow up properly.

In the afternoon, the buffalo were out in force; there were four different breeding herds of buffalo found by our guides!  In addition to the buffalo, there were also two small breeding herds of elephant and Grant had a nice sighting of two elephant bulls splashing in Majambi Dam.

Thumbela female leopard had a lazy day, and we found her sleeping in the same tree as this morning, and she did very little all afternoon! 
After the disappointment of hearing that the Mahlathini male lions had headed off the property, it was exciting to hear that the staff at the lodge reported a big commotion of lion and hyena activity to the east of camp; they said it sounded like something was being killed.  Johannes’s guests arrived late, so he wasn’t on drive, but went to check after being informed of the noise.  He found one lion moving east away from Wisani trough just 300m from the lodge, and Grant arrived in the area to find lots of lion activity, vultures, the smell of something dead, and a big drag mark!  He miraculously managed to follow this drag mark in the dark and in some extremely thick bush came across the two fully mature, large Jacaranda pride males – not from our ‘Jacaranda 4’, but rather from the northern Jacaranda 3 that live to the north of Motswari.  The buffalo was a youngish one, and not killed this evening, but probably sometime this morning or early in the afternoon, as there was still a lot of meat left.  Sadly though, the area that they had the kill was very thick, which made viewing them difficult at night, but unless they pull a ‘Mahlathini’ on us and disappear, they should still be there feeding on the kill in the morning!

Other news for the day was that the wild dogs were found late in the evening chasing a herd of buffalo near Mbali Dam.  Sadly neither Grant nor myself managed to see them, but Marka did bump into one wild dog while heading back to Java - however, being after dark, he didnt follow it and left it to its own devices; we hope they are relocated somewhere in the area tomorrow morning!

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