Friday, 18 February 2011

18th February – White Lions Still Around...

Photo of the Day
Grey Heron on some of our hippos at Sohebele Dam

Morning Drive
1 x buffalo bull – Peru, Long Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Wisani Crossing (on walk)

Afternoon Drive
5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride – 2 lionesses, 1 young male, 2 white lions) – Vielmetter, 2nd Sharalumi Crossing
3 x rhino (Nhlangula male, 1 female and calf)
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Vielmetter, Jaydee Access
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Jaydee, Jaydee Access
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Java, Java Access
2 x buffalo bulls – Java, Crossing Below Java

Daily Synopsis
The week at Motswari ended off on a good note, although it didn’t seem as if it would based on the morning’s drive!
Friday morning started out with so much promise, but turned into a frustratingly quiet drive, although we quite enjoyed the ‘involuntary’ birding morning!  Firstly, within 200m of the lodge, we found a drag mark for an impala kill of Kuhanya leopardess, but following it proved to be far more difficult that we imagined as a herd of elephants had walked along the same route, making following the flattened grass a bit tricky.  The fact that there were hyena tracks following it, and tracks for Kuhanya heading east away from the area she dragged the kill to indicated that she had, like Shongile female a few days before, lost her kill to the hyenas; a bit frustrating as that would have been the perfect start to the drive.
The second frustration was when tracks for the Jacaranda lionesses (and possibly cubs) headed into the thickets below Sohebele Dam that they used a couple of weeks back.  There were no tracks coming out of there, but the area was far too thick and dangerous to go in on foot, especially as they had killed a porcupine during the night, and we didn’t know if they had maybe picked up some quill injuries.
Carrying on with the drive didn’t produce much to speak of; the usual impalas, hippos and waterbuck.  We enjoyed a nice coffee at my favourite spot on the banks of Mbali Dam before carrying on.  The game viewing didn’t get better, but we turned our attention to the birds and some smaller aspects of the bush before returning to camp.  Birds included some nice eagles; malachite, woodlands, pied and greyheaded kingfishers; bee-eaters, guineafowl alarm calling to indicate the presence of an African Wild Cat during the day, and some saddle-billed and woolly-necked storks.
Grey-headed Kingfisher
One guest joined me for a bush walk, and we encountered a lone buffalo bull before returning to camp just in time to beat the 5.5mm of rain that fell.
With new guests on my vehicle, I had to improve on the animal front!  The drive started off with me checking around the lodge for any of our leopards, but for the third drive in a row, I came up empty handed.  Grant tried to assist, and despite seeing tracks for three different leopards, none were found.
The sightings in the south lured me there, despite not wanting to make such a long trip on my guest’s first drive, but fortunately it was well worth it!  In the north we got steenbok, impala and an impressive male kudu, as well as hippos in a couple of the dams. 
The quiet patch of the drive was broken with sightings of two small breeding herds in quick succession, and then onto the first of the luring sightings; three white rhinos!  It was the relaxed Nhlangula male that had joined company with the slightly nervous female and calf from yesterday.  They were much more relaxed today, and we enjoyed a sighting of the male rhino feeding before he moved east and joined the other two rhinos.

Breeding herd of elephants, Nhlangula male and a female white rhino
We left them and enjoyed the magical sight of the sun setting in the west while the full moon rose over the bush in the east.
Full moon rising over the Timbavati
After dark, we arrived at the sighting of the Xakubasa white lions, and again got there just as they got active on the nights hunt.  They were grooming when we arrived, but soon set off north along the riverbed, and walked mere metres past where we had parked.  They lay down again a short distance away before again getting up and wandering along the riverbed right past us; it was quite special to have these amazing cats go about their business as if we were not even there!  Even more magical was realising that, despite my previous opinion, these lions do occasionally do a lot more than just sleep...and again, I am quickly seeing why Grant loves them so much!
Xakubasa Pride getting ready to go off hunting
Heading back to camp, albeit a bit late, we ticked off a nice civet, some buffalo bulls, a breeding herd of elephants and two hyenas to round off another great safari at Motswari (although i must apologise for not getting better photos)!
I am now just really, really in need of some of our spotted friends tomorrow...but I do have a feeling that Kuhanya or Shongile are going to show themselves!


  1. Well it might have been a quiet day for you but it still read like a wonderful experience.

    What a beautiful kingfisher, and the photo of the Xakubasa Pride getting ready to hunt is fantastic.

  2. Man, that photo of the Grey-headed Kingfisher is Great!!!
    Thanks for the update.
    I love to read this every day.