Sunday, 20 February 2011

19th February – Just What I Needed...

Photo of the Day
Rockfig Jnr on a mission

Morning Drive
1 x leopard (Rockfig Jnr Female) – Vielmetter, Back Nines New Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Giraffe Pan (on walk)

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Marka, Elliot)
5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride – 2 lionesses, 1 young male, 2 white lionesses) – Jaydee, Tchwala Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephant – De Luca, Mpela-pela Access
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Java, Back of Java
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Boolala Rd
2 x elephant bulls – Peru, Long Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Argyle, Argyle Dam
1 x buffalo bull – Peru, Sohebele Dam
2 x buffalo bulls – Java, Crossing Below Java

Daily Synopsis
I headed out on Saturday morning needing leopard; there was no other option.  I did my usual search of the north around the lodge, but for the fourth day in a row came up empty handed.  I was slowly making my way towards Vyeboom Dam when Giyani radioed in that he had found Rockfig Jnr leopardess down south and heading towards Hide Dam.  I slowly made my way that side, only to hear a short while later that she had been lost going into the big drainage line behind the dam, and that she hadn’t emerged.
It had been relatively quiet until then, with just the usual impalas and a couple of kudu, a hippo leaving Xinatsi Dam, and some nice time spent with a lone giraffe bull.  I was a bit despondent after hearing that the leopard had been lost, and decided to have a cup of coffee at Hide Dam, half hoping she would pitch up there.  As we were about to get off, I heard her calling some distance away, so collected Petros and we went in search of her, and got lucky and found her walking along the road!

Rockfig Jnr walking down the road - note how dry its looking now!!!

We followed her for some time before she settled down to groom, but it was only a temporary stop, and she really looked on a mission this morning; we suspect she is coming back into estrus based on her repeated calling, and the fact that she was moving towards and area where a male leopard was heard calling.

En route, she spotted a baby guineafowl and ran into the bush and pounced on it, making a small but easy kill.  She moved the ‘kill’ under a bush, and while plucking the feathers off that guineafowl, some more young ones ran out of some nearby grass and Rockfig Jnr didn’t waste any time in running in and pouncing on another one right next to our vehicle!  We left her feeding on the two snacks in some longish grass and went for a cup of coffee.

Rockfig Jnr eating her guineafowls
For the second morning in a row, I encountered a buffalo bull on my walk; this time a lone male sleeping in a little pan not far from camp – but we viewed him nicely without him even becoming aware of our presence.
The afternoon was a quiet one for Marka and I, although I was not in any rush, and took it easy in the northern and central parts of the reserve instead of chasing after sightings.
Bumbling around the large waterholes and along the Nhlaralumi allowed me to tick off waterbuck, warthog, kudu, impala, giraffe, a buffalo bull, an elephant bull, duiker, hippo and nyala.

Redbilled Hornbill eating an elegant grasshopper

African Jacarna

Giraffe bulls
Marka tried to go south after they relocated Rockfig Jnr near Entrance Dam, but she was moving in a drainage line that made following her almost impossible. 
Elliot had guests for one drive, and did the best out of all of us; a couple of buffalo bulls, two small breeding herds of elephant, and he got the best sighting of the white lions for the day.  Despite being located below Makhulu Dam wall in the morning, the sighting as only 1 out of 5 at best for most of the day, but Elliot checked after dark and found them sleeping on the road near the dam wall.  Sadly I was just a bit too late to respond, as it was already 19h15, and had to miss out on them. 
Full moon rising over Motswari
We hope that we will be able to track them down again tomorrow, which will make our day feel a wee bit better!


  1. Incredible full moon!

    I'm happy to hear that the Xukubasa pride is staying at the reserve for a while. I still remember Grant asking us what we wanted to see in our first drive, to which I answered without thinking: the White lions! :)
    We were so lucky to see them in almost all drives!

  2. Another great read and superb photos Chad.

    The Redbilled hornbill eating a grasshopper are two wonderful photos. And always fantastic to see a leopard my favourite big cat.

  3. Great shots here Chad...
    Man, the Leopard shots are fantastic (My favorite cat as well).
    And I agree with Laikipia about the shots about the Redbilled Hornbill, great shots.

    Lovely light you had there with the giraffe. Light like that changes any picture.
    And great full moon picture.

    Very glad the white lions are still there, hopefully they stay for a while longer.


  4. Gabriella Bianchi21 February 2011 at 08:10

    Hello Chad. Thanks for those great fotos and the updates again. I love the Hornbill ones. Stunning! Even if I'm sitting in the office, I'm always on the game drives. And guess what, I never have enough.
    Lot's of love from cold Switzerland (it was snowing yesterday again, brrrrrr .....)