Saturday, 26 February 2011

25th February: Southbound!

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.

( Elliot, Herald & Grant)

Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Scholtz – Scholtz River Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Enkombi Pan.
Leopard ( Ntombi & Cub) / Kings – Cole's Drive.
Lion ( 3 x Mahlatini Males) / Scholtz – Scholtz River Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Johannes, Elliot, Herald & Grant)

Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Phiva Plains.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Vielmieter – Entrance Dam.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Scholtz – Scholtz Big Dam.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Scholtz – Gravel Pits.
Lion ( Mahlatini Males) / Scholtz – Scholtz Big Dam.
Leopard ( Ntombi & Cub) / Kings – Cole's Drive.

Daily Synopsis.

During sundowners the previous night, Elliot heard audio for two Lions in the South moving to the North where he had visited a Buffalo Herd. Starting drive the following morning his intention was to follow up on them, but on his way in their direction he was distracted by another set of Male Lion tracks very close to Motswari, that he tracked out our traversing area and into Ingwelala. In the interim Herald set off South in search of the Buffalo, believing if he found them he would find the Lions. I had made it well known that I would be spending my drive in the North, determined not to head South. The previous night at dinner my guests had requested Giraffe and Male Lions for the morning drive. We got off to a great start with a beautiful male Giraffe on Motswari Airstrip, before we set about zig-zagging the Northern section.

We had a feeling if the Lions had been calling in the South, they more than likely head to the North West in search of their injured brother who was last seen a couple of days ago lagging behind.

Anyone ever seen a Golden Orbweb Spider catch a bird?

While making our way to the West, Herald contacted me, by the tone of his voice I knew he had something! He confirmed this with the statement, that he took full enjoyment in delivering, “ what will I give him for what he had found?” Knowing that he was far South, I replied: “ I would physically injure him!” Itching to tell me, and ignoring my empty threat, he let me know he had the three Mahlatini Males! I had already turned the vehicle around and headed South before he broke the news, knowing he had what we wanted, curse his magic!

As was with my timing yesterday I arrived a fraction late, and the Lions had been chased from lying out in the open into some extremely thick Mopane by the Buffalo herd. What are the chances this would happen to the same person, in two consecutive morning drives. The only positive you could take from the sighting was at least they were living up to their name, Mahlatini, meaning, THICK BUSH! Think my guests are learning quickly they need to be a little more specific when it comes to their requests and me!  

What you could see without leaves in the way!

We did however have a great sighting of two Buffalo Bulls fighting one another in a muddy pan.

After Elliot's visit I firmly believe I'm cursed! He had arrived late on scene after visiting Ntombi and her cub walking along the Tsharalumi River. On his arrival at the Lions they promptly got up and moved out of the thick Mopane and headed in the direction of a Dagha Boy that peeked their interest.

This afternoon we'll be heading South yet again, try our luck once more. If the Mahlatini's fail on their Buffalo attempt, there is a dam nearby that they may go lie down for the day at, hopefully out in the open!

Knowing our destiny lay in the South Herald and myself headed directly in that direction. Having new guests Elliot and Johannes also joined the migration South, but they would first visit Ntombi and her cub, who were to be found in between resting in a tree and on the ground nearby.

As Herald approached the dam he found a herd of Buffalo running in the opposite direction and on closer inspection a little further to the South he found Lion tracks on top of the Buffalo tracks. Not thinking they were far Herald and myself thought it would be a quick relocation, but as time passed this proved otherwise. Herald had tracks going in every direction, so he decided to circle the area and while he did so, he found one of the males lying on the dam wall. We arrived on scene at this stage, well actually a fraction later, and would you believe it, the male stood and ran off the wall to the East! It took us a while to get around the dam and onto the opposite side, and by the time we arrived he had disappeared. Going onto foot, five of us tried to locate tracks to get a direction to begin our search again. Despite our efforts we could not find a single paw print, let alone a toe print, we even went back to the wall where he had run off and found nothing. Spreading out on a line we all headed to the East hoping to get lucky with any sign or hint of a direction. Not getting to far apart and having the vehicles visible, we simultaneously spotted this tawny shape off to our right moving in a Southerly direction. Getting back to the car first Herald headed in his direction, being a little behind and taking time to turn our vehicle at the dam wall we became aware of this deep guttural growling in the riverbed below us. Our guests then saw our male, who apparently had headed off South running back to the West into the riverbed. Peering over the edge, we could not see anything, but the growling had become deeper and more ferocious from a Leadwood thicket down below. They had obviously stopped growling, not wanting to give away their position, and kept an eye on us while we were wondering around the dam wall seventy five meters away. It was only once they thought we had gone did they return to their hostilities. Surveying the area we decide the best approach would be from the Eastern side, so once again we headed around the dam. Getting relatively close the visual was still not that fantastic as they had dragged the small Buffalo calf into the centre of the thicket, with their backs to us.

We did have a good view of the least dominant brother who was not able to share in his brothers catch. Sitting with him, it was great to hear the raw sound of male Lions squabbling over food and it sent shivers down the spine.

By the time everyone had got through the sighting they had finished their orderve and no doubt would follow the herd for mains during the night. Guess another trip South is in our future!


  1. Great catching up with the last two days and to see the fantastic photos - all of them amazing.

  2. nice man - your photos are coming along great - love the quelea in the web pic! did it get away???? only seen it once myself....

    good game viewing should continue; im not on drive fora while!!!