Sunday, 20 March 2011

19th March: Taller Than a Tree.

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Chad, Herald & Grant)

Leopard ( Kuhanya) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd North.
Leopard (Argyle Male) / Motswari - Sharalumi Crossing
Lion ( Mahlatini Males) / Java – Java Dam Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip Link.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Lily Pan.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Enkombi Pan.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant)

Lion ( Machaton Females & Cubs) / Umlani – Marco's Dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Jaydee – Argyle Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

Greetings to you all, I'm back! Get to add my two cents worth today as Chad didn't make it out on afternoon drive, and not wanting to hear what he missed out on I took on the responsibility of today's blog.

The mornings mission for both Chad and Herald was to find Giraffe that had somehow eluded them for the past two days, actually three in Chad's case. Having seen Giraffe ourselves meant that we would not have to stalk Herald for a change, and we headed out West, after a quick visit to Kuhanya, who was still in the safety of her Leadwood tree. She had now been joined by a young Spotted Hyena, who lurked below in the hope that she would make a mistake and drop what was left of her baby warthog kill. While we were there she came close to forfulling it's dreams on a number of occasions but managed to salvage the situation through the aid of her lighting quick reactions and agility.

While the Hyena's dreams did not come true, Chad's and Heralds did, with the location of a lone bull Giraffe in the West. In the speed that they both responded you would have sworn they had called in a Pangolin! Their response made for the mornings entertainment, as the radio is usually used for Big Five sightings only, but the way they went about it you would think Giraffe was one of the Big Five. They were both giving one another advice on the best approach and where the best visual could be obtained from.

Once the excitement of the Giraffe subsided, Herald headed to the East in search of Rhino, while Chad headed back to Motswari, as his group was checking out early. We continued to the South West also in search of Rhino. Our morning died after Kuhanya, but as is Murphy's Law, late in the morning we came across tracks for a herd of Rhino, not having much time we started the tracking process. It would be now that all the animals would make an appearance and delay our search, with us running into two separate breeding herds of Buffalo. The distractions eventually ran our clock out, with us pretty sure we had them isolated to a block, unfortunately the said block was huge and it would take us a good while to cover it on foot. Heading back for breakfast we were thankful for our Buffalo Herds, as they had partially revived our morning.

Herald's search went no better, as he too was distracted, his being the audio for Lions. They sounded like they were mobile to the North West, following the audio it eventually lead him all the way back to Java Dam, where he found the Mahlatini's in the same spot as the previous day, they had moved mere metres. We had also heard the audio earlier in the morning and I would have put good money on it that they would not have been found anywhere near Java Dam.

Afternoon drive would find us out alone, as Chad's guests would only arrive in time for dinner. Having the same guests for four nights it was time for a change of pace and scenery, so we headed South. Having heard they had found the Machaton Female's and their Cubs on Umlani, an area that we do not traverse, we organised that we could come down and visit. Another reason you have to love the Northern Timbavati, our fellow Lodges are very accommodating and everyone works together to help one another out.

Having our passports stamped we arrived on Umlani and made our way towards the sighting, driving along a picturesque road high above the Tsharalumi River that afforded you beautiful views of the riverbed below and across the hills to the horizon, that in itself would have been worth the trip alone! Nearing the sight, we received news the Lionesses had become mobile, unfortunately all in different directions, and if that was not bad enough some towards very thick vegetation along the riverbed. Again, another example of how everyone works together, one of the guides made way for us , realising they may slip off into the thick undergrowth with us not getting to see them. At first we had one of the females walk straight towards us in the riverbed before turning North and heading up the river. Once she was out of sight we made our way out, but as we crested the riverbank there before us sat three cubs in the middle of the road.  

They must have been following mom but then decided against it and came to resting in the middle of the road out in the open. Sitting with them we received news the grandmother was still sighting at the dam we could see off in the distance, and she was more than likely on babysitting duty. This was confirmed when she started calling out to them a short while later. Being youngsters they were defiant and sat there ground. After some time we headed on to view grandma sitting at the dam, still calling out every five minutes.

Hearing that the other daughter with the five younger cubs had stopped short of the thick riverbank vegetation we headed in her direction. She lay out in the open with all five cubs fighting for feeding rights over the four teats, we were all quite surprised at how much noise they made and how relaxed she appeared even though it appeared she was at the bottom of a rugby ruck, with all the little cubs scrummaging for prime position!

Whilst all of this was going on you could hear the sound of crunching bones originating from the bush behind. Apparently dad was back there with a young Buffalo kill, there was no visual, but the noise emanating allowed your imagination to form a very vivid picture!

Settling in we spent our entire afternoon sitting with mom and cubs, as they went through bouts of feeding, sleeping and playing.

It was amazing to watch and something truly special to experience, we all sat there in silent awe and the hour that we must have sat there felt like mere minutes!As dark approached we had to eventually break the transfixed spell we were under and start the long journey home.

If you reading this Chad, sorry but that definitely rates up there in my top three Lion sightings of all time! Tomorrow is going to struggle to top today, but that is the beauty of the bush you never know!

EDIT from Chad - you forgot to mention the pair of mating pangolins i saw yesterday?  Okay, i am a bit jealous!  Just as i was that you got to see Argyle Male leopard on your walk yesterday...and that all the other staff got to watch a female leopard sleeping in the riverbed below the breakfast verandah just before dinner...but its fine....I will get my day soon to make you jealous of my lion cub sighting!!!!!


  1. that must have been an amazing afternoon with these cubs. Fantastic!!!

  2. I have never seen a blog that shows us these wonderful animals so up close and personal. Love it!

  3. Magnifique. Thank you for letting us share all these beautiful and exceptional views.

  4. The luck of the Irish! :)
    Watching 10 lions interact in one afternoon must have been something really special. I wish I was there!

  5. Great update Grant, Chad sure missed out this time.