Sunday, 6 February 2011

5th February – Mahlathini’s with a Giraffe Kill!

Photo of the Day
Vyeboom Dam Male posing beautifully for us!
Morning Drive
(Chad and Elliot)
6 x lions (Jacaranda Pride – 2 females and 4 cubs) – Peru, Sohebele Dam
4 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Lover’s Leap
1 x elephant bull – Karan’s – KNP Cutline

Afternoon Drive
1 x leopard (Vyeboom Dam male) – Argyle, Crossing Below Vyeboom Dam
2 x leopards (Vyeboom Dam male and unidentified young male) – Argyle, Vyeboom Dam Wall
6 x lions (Jacaranda Pride – 2 females and 4 cubs) – Peru, Xinzele Rd
3 x lions (Mahlathini males with giraffe kill) – Peru, Xinzele Rd
3 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Argyle Dam

Daily Synopsis
The weekend started off on a fairly good note, with a lot of tracks for lions in the area; the problem was that this did its bit to confuse us; there were tracks for Mahlathini males, the two Jacaranda males and the Jacaranda females.  Elliot was after the Jacaranda males and as I went to join him to assist, we received some news that other lions had been found not far away.
Prior to this, the morning was a fair one; impala, hyena, steenbok, kudu and hippo all showed themselves, as did two nice female giraffes.
The lions that had been located were the Jacaranda females and their cubs, in the riverbed just below Sohebele Dam wall , but annoyingly they got up and moved into the thickets on the eastern bank.  Now thickets is a bit of an understatement.  We were no more than 5m or 6m from them and could hardly see a thing – barely a sighting, but at least we knew were they were!
After coffee and four buffalo bulls at Lover’s Leap, we slowly made our way back to camp as the day heated up to the mid-30’s. 
Buffalo Bulls
I was out alone in the afternoon, and received word that the tracks for ‘Mahlathini’ lions that the trackers went to follow up on ended up being tracks for the Jacaranda females heading back to Sohebele Dam, so they were left.  It was thus a bit surprising to hear that the three males were found with a giraffe kill west of Sohebele Dam!  Even more surprising was that the Jacaranda females and their cubs were about 300m away from the giraffe kill themselves, having eventually moved out of the riverbed.

Jacaranda Cubs
After a few impala, buffalo and hippos, we went to see the Jacarandas and had a fairly nice sighting of the two lionesses in the open, with two of the cubs in the open and suckling from mom.  The other two stayed under a bush in the shade.
Buffalo bulls in Argyle Dam

I left them and drove a few hundred metres west to the Mahlathini males, but it was barely a sighting, as two of the males had dragged the giraffe (I believe, you couldn’t even see it!) under a Lowveld Cluster-leaf and were feeding, while one fat and sleepy brother lay in the tall grass with his head under a bush!  We have our suspicions that the Jacaranda lionesses actually may have killed then giraffe and then lost it to the male lions when they went to fetch their cubs.
I was then on my way to a herd of elephants when I was told that Vyeboom Dam male leopard was sleeping on a rock below Vyeboom Dam, and didn’t need a second invite to go see him.  He posed beautifully on a rock for me, and allowed for some great photographic opportunities for the guests. 

Vyeboom Dam Male
After a wonderful sundowner with a giraffe and some snorting hippos, we headed home and predictably found the Vyeboom Dam male sleeping on the dam wall; what wasn’t as predictable was the fact that there was another young male climbing off the dam wall as we approached!  I assume that it was Vyeboom Dam male’s brother as they were not looking too aggressive or at all aggressive to be exact!  It should maybe have not been a big surprise as the whole time we were watching the leopard earlier, he was very interested in the rocks to the north, and I suspected that there could have been another leopard there, but then I often have that feeling!  Maybe I should trusk my feelings a bit more often!

But that brought to an end another very enjoyable day, and as always I look forward to see what tomorrow brings!


  1. Hi
    Thanks to Chad I have just found this Blog, and I have to say the quality of the Photographs, and the Daily Synopsis is superb. I really look forward to getting to know all the Animal characters, their history, and daily lives.
    Thanks for a great Blog

  2. I see you not struggling there without me, great to see the action has returned to the North, even better news the Jacaranda Pride is spending more time in the area. Catch you Wednesday!

  3. Hi Chad,

    Love the cub photos, do you what happened to the female lying down. It looks like she has an injury?

    I have never seen such beautiful photographs as your Leopards, the clarity is amazing. I look forward to tomorrows instalment of life at Motswari!


  4. Hello, I´m a travelagent in Holland and have sent already a lot of guests to Motswari. In october I will visit your reserve and I can´t say how much I´m looking forward it. I´m reading your blog almost everyday and it will be superb to search after all the animals I see on these beautifull photographs. Wich kind of lens do you use. Kind regards, Tiny Koning

  5. I do read your blog often. Haven't commented before, but find it fascinating. I have visited Tanzania and Kenya before. but am planning my first visit to S.Africa. Your blog is very enjoyable.

    The leopard photos were simply gorgeous.

  6. WOW, Chad, some amazing shots of the leopards.
    Man, these should be printed big and be hanging on my wall :-)
    Grant sure is missing out on some great action.
    Thanks for the updates and keep up the good work.


  7. Some simply stunning leopard photos - look forward to catching up with your blog.


  8. Thank you all soooo much for the very kind words...although it wasnt all my doing - that beautiful male leoaprd made it pretty easy for me to get a nice shot :)

    @WS - thanks, i am glad you enjoy the blog...we have some pretty special animals...i just hope our 'most special' ones return soon - the white lions! - although i heard they are still doing well and spent a week feeding on a giraffe, although sadly it is in an area some 20km away from the timbavati...

    @SM - that lioness was gored by a buffalo, but she is on the mend and will hopefully make a full recovery to assist the pride in rasising all 4 coubs :)

    @ grant - hahahaha, no surprises there...i guess the big surprise is that i am actually seeing and findong my own animals!

    @tiny- thatnks so much - i hope your clients have all enjoyed their stay and look forward toseeing you too soon! as for my camera gear, i use Canon 1DmkIII and a 500mm f4 lens...

    @lourens and laikipia - much appreciated - i will hopefully share many more great sightigns and nice photos with you all over the next year!

    thanks once again, and please keep on reading!