Wednesday, 2 March 2011

1st March – Great Way to End Off!

Photo of the Day

Daily Synopsis
Well I’m back in Johannesburg and already missing the bush – especially considering how enjoyable my last two drives were!
I wasn’t expecting to drive, but about half an hour before game drive, Grant asked me if I could take out Marion and Fabrice’s family, and so off I went with Sylvia, Elea and Victor.
The afternoon started off with the guides in fine form, finding Argyle Male and the remains of a young buffalo not far from the lodge, and Grant finding another leopard kill on the airstrip!  While waiting to go in to see Argyle Male, I spent time with the Xinatsi Clan of hyenas at Xinatsi Dam, or as Victor called it, the ‘Magic Dam’! 

Xinatsi Clan of Hyenas at Xinatsi Dam
After watching the hyenas for a while, we went to see the leopard, but he was resting in the shade until four hyenas ran in and took the remains of the carcass and Argyle male scuttled off to the east.  We watched the hyenas feeding for a while before going back a couple hundred metres to see a small herd of buffalos at the ‘Magic Dam’.  Later in the evening, it Grant saw another leopard at the Magic Dam!

Buffalo herd at Xinatsi Dam
After that, it was a bit quiet for a short while as we headed towards the Mahlathini males that Elliot had found, but being a warm afternoon, they just lazed about in the shade.
Mahlathini male
Heading back to camp, we found a lone elephant bull, two herds of zebra, a spotted eagle-owl, a chameleon, and then a breeding herd of elephants and a lone elephant bull in the camp!

Kudu Pan Sunset (Click on image for larger view)
Just as with the previous couple of months, the animals seem to enjoy working in calendar months, and true to form, the last day of one month becomes a precursor for the first couple of weeks of the new month, and if the first drive of the new month was anything to go by, we should be in for a good first half of March (although I really hope that the animals don’t stop showing themselves in the second half of the month like they did in January and February, hahaha!!!).
As Elea mentioned in her Guest Post below, we managed to see the Big 5 in one morning drive!  Any drive that starts off with a leopard within a kilometre of camp is going to be a good one, especially when the mystery leopard with the kill turned out to be the beautiful Kuhanya!  And looking at my photos, you can’t help but to agree that she is the most beautiful leopard in the reserve!

The gorgeous Kuhanya resting full-bellied near her impala kill
As I left the sighting, heading towards that three rhinos had been found and Elea really wanted to see rhino, I was told that the three Mahlathini male lions were not too far away, and they were on my route, so I stopped in and watched them grazing.  Yes, grazing.  Again, these three males amused me by walking around eating grass, before they eventually moved down into the riverbed and fell asleep. 

Mahlathini males - the hairiest grazers in the Timbavati!!!
Going past Vyeboom Dam, there was a small breeding herd of elephants swimming and drinking in the dam, and they gave us a great walk-by, but I sadly didn’t spend as much time with them as I wanted, as I heard that two of the rhinos ran off, and Nhlangula male was left ‘unattended’, and still being a while away from him, I didn’t want him to go too far! 

Elephant herd at Vyeboom Dam
I was out with Clearance, our apprentice tracker who has been shadowing the guys for a few weeks, and together he and I went off following some of the rhino tracks.  I won’t profess to be any good at tracking, but Clearance was doing a pretty good job following a set of tracks as I trailed behind, and helped occasionally.  I decided to return to the vehicle and collect the guests, putting my tracking skills to the test to find the vehicle firstly, and then to relocate my tracker!  Clearly I was a better at this than I thought, because I found the rhino instead!  I had a quiet chuckle to myself, but didn’t tell the other guides that I found him purely by chance!!!
So with four of the Big 5 down, Elea and Victor were keen to see a buffalo, and sure enough, we got an old buffalo bull with two oxpeckers on (or up) his nose!  The kids (and grandma!) were delighted with the drive, and if that wasn’t enough, we finished off with a nice elephant bull drinking water at the water lily-covered Trade Entrance Pan!

Buffalo bull with his Oxpecker companions!

Elephant bull just outside camp, at Trade Entrance Pan
All in a morning’s work I guess!
Catch up again next week!


  1. What a brilliant way to finsh working Chad, no wonder your missing the bush already. I bet your guests were thrilled all the Big Five in one morning. Kuhanya truly is a beautiful Leopard, and the photos of her do her justice. Love the trunk in the water shot, and the Oxpecker that looks as though its fallen asleep on the Rhinos nose, mind you I would'nt like their job He He
    Thanks for a graet update Chad, enjoy your week off

  2. What an amazing photo of the day!! Brilliant. Are you working on a second photo book with all these great pictures? I hope so. They bring sunshine in our still cold and grey winter. How are the Shobeles doing? Enjoy your week in hectic Joburg.

  3. thanks WS and Gabi!!!

    gabi, i am indeed looking at doing a new book for the lodge, hopefully in the next couple of months, and will print 1,000 of them, so will be affordable for everyone! im pretty excited and need to start work on it will have a lot of the old predator pics in, but want a more diverse book that really showcases the reserve! will let you know when it is ready :)

    no sign of the sohebele boys for a while...but sure they doing okay! i'm loving having kuhanya around the lodge!

  4. These photos are brilliant. What a gamedrive....Enjoy your time off.

  5. Oh, my goodness! Awesome pix!! You're a genius behind the lens!!! So glad I voted for your photographs in the competition ...

  6. What amazing pic. the hyena especially, we never see many when in the park.
    Is there a way I can share this with my blog?
    they are al wonderful.

  7. thank you so much for the kind words tiny, berni and pumpy!

    thank you for your vote berni - much appreciated!

    Pumpy - please feel free to spread the word about our blog - the more people that get to enjoy our photos and stories, the better! you are more than welcome to post a link on your blog, alternatively, if you just want to share this story - at the end of the post, there are icons that allow you to share the post directly to blogger, twitter, facebook etc....feel free to make use of that too :)

    thanks again for the support!