Photo of the Day
|Jacaranda Pride - it was difficult to choose which one was my favourite for the day - they all were!!!|
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Karans – Timbavati/ Umbabat Cutline.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Western Cutline.
Lion ( White Lions) / Vielmieter – Elephant Dam Road.
Lion ( Jacaranda Pride) / DeLuca – Mpela Mpela Pan.
3 x lions (Mahlathini males) – Peru, Woza-Woza Cutline
5 x lions (Jacaranda Pride – 2 lionesses and 3 cubs) – De Luca, Mpela-pela Crossing
1 x breeding herd of elephant – De Luca, Mpela-pela Pan
1 x buffalo bull - De Luca, Mpela-pela Pan
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Camp Dam
Once again the trend continues and at this rate it should cement itself as the norm. As you all know we have struggled for Lion sightings since the White Lions left our traversing area, and this was not the first time. It would appear every time they depart all the other prides disappear to, and when they return we suddenly find every Tom and his friend. Clearly the news of the White Lions return is out there, as this morning we had barely left camp, and we found tracks for a female that walked around the perimeter of the camp, before walking in front of the lodge through the Sohebele Riverbed to the West. It had that ever familiar feeling of the Jacaranda Pride running us around in circles, so not spending too much time, and having learnt from previous experiences we abandoned our search after half an hour, fancying our chances in finding Leopard rather. Rounding camp once more we came across another set of tracks, this time for two females. The temptation being too great we set about tracking them, knowing full well it was the Jacaranda Pride once again, so much for learning! After driving back and forth and in a number of circles, it confirmed our suspicions that we were looking for the Jacaranda Pride. I can however say, that we have learnt that the best way to track them is to go straight onto foot and not worry about driving around. This is where I left Jacky, and called in support in the form of the Motswari Trackers back at camp. While they set about tracking their lionesses, I set off tracking something more capable of my abilities, a herd of Elephant, who's tracks I stumbled across while looking for the Lion tracks. Shortly before finding my Elephant I received news that they had found the White Lions, hmm, a predicament. I continued on to locate my small breeding herd of Elephant before making the decision to head South based on the news that Jacky and the guys were still chasing their tails. Having only seen the White Lions after sunset the night before the sighting this morning highlighted the difference between the tawny and white coats. They apparently were hot on the hooves of a herd of Buffalo but were unsuccessful in their attempt, so we left them to rest in the shade and rue their missed chance.
Having an early check out I headed back North to camp, along the way I contacted Jacky to get a progress report, and he informed me that they had lost the tracks but were still trying to relocate them. Typical, on my way home I found fresh Leopard tracks that had walked over my vehicle tracks while heading South, I tell you it's all about timing. With no time in hand I headed back to camp. Jacky and the guys arrived back just before midday also having been successful. They had found the Jacaranda females, and while following the tracks they picked up tracks for the cubs that the females must have joined along the way back to the North. The Lionesses were resting in a riverbed while they think the cubs were in the thick vegetation on the banks. That now makes it 5 – 2 in favour of the Jacarandas, we're slowly catching up. I received news later in the day that the Mahlathinis were also found on Peru, it looks like there may be some truth to our suspicions!
In the afternoon, I (that being The Chad) took over the driving duties with just 2 guests in camp. It is a wonderful feeling to start a game drive knowing that you have the option of three different groups of lions to go and see!
I opted to stay in the north, and go for quality over quantity. I slowly made my way towards the three Mahlathini males, stopping to watch some rather active hippos at Argyle Dam, as well as the usual impala and waterbuck. Unsurprisingly the three male lions were ‘flat cat’ and didn’t give us the quality we wanted, so without spending too much time with them on the hot afternoon, I headed to the north-east where our trackers had found the two lionesses this morning.
On the way I was wondering if I had made the right decision, but I pushed on hoping to also see the breeding herds of buffalo and elephants that the trackers had also seen this morning. There was not much about and as we drove down the riverbed towards where the lions had been found 7 hours ago, I was praying that they were still there...and thankfully they were!
The two lionesses were lying in the clean sand of the riverbed, and soon woke up. The mother took a few steps towards us and gave a soft call; suddenly the grass to our left became alive as the cubs came bounding out of their hiding place to join their mom! It was a special moment, but concerning for the fact that one of the cubs was missing...or dead. The fresh wound on the injured lionesses head spoke of a potential conflict, and the mothers unanswered calls for the missing cub did concern us, but there is nothing that we can do besides wait and see if it pitches up?
|Injured "injured-lioness" - bite mark perhaps?|
Still, that did not ruin what was without doubt my best lion sighting of 2011 by a long, long way! There is very little that one cannot love about lion cubs, so I will just let the photographs speak for themselves!
|What a special afternoon with some special lions!|
As it got dark we left them to go and drink at the nearby Mpela-pela pan, and while enjoying a drink, we were joined by a breeding herd of elephants, and a while later, a lone buffalo bull! It was a great way to end a special afternoon at Motswari.
|Marka and his Java guests enjoying the lions|
|Grant with Dave and Thea enjoying yet more lions near the lodge!|
|Some special guests joiing us for a sundowner!|