Thursday, 24 March 2011

23rd March - The Hangover; the Morning After the Day Before...

Photo of the Day
Thumbela after a tough day of doing nothing!
Morning Drive
(Chad and Grant)
1 x leopard (Thumbela female) – Vielmetter, Entrance Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Back 9’s
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Jaydee, Den Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant and Elliot)
3 x lions (Mahlathini Males) – Peru, Xikari Rd
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Reception
1 x leopard (Thumbela Female) – Vielmetter, Entrance Dam
1 x leopard (Gijima Male) – Argyle, Argyle Dam
1 x leopard (unidentified male) – Peru, Tawny Eagle Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Argyle, Argyle Dam
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Camp Dam

Daily Synopsis
Today was always going to feel like a hangover from the night before (although that is no excuse for me almost oversleeping!!!), especially considering what an amazing day’s worth of game viewing we had could we possibly repeat it?
While we knew it wouldn’t be as good, we didn’t expect the slow start that we did have!  There were tracks for some female leopards east of Concrete Crossing after the few drops of rain we received last night, but they led to nothing.  I saw tracks for the Mahlathini male lions, but didn’t get a chance to follow up properly as my guests were checking out a bit early.  In fact, I had a pretty quiet morning all round with only impala, waterbuck, kudu, impala, a nice herd of zebra and a hippo out of the water making it onto my checklist.

It seemed as though Grant’s drive was heading the same way as he checked the south-west for any sign of rhino or white lions, but came up empty handed there.  He did however get a breeding herd of buffalo that were waking from their night’s rest and moving off towards Nkombi Pan.

Breeding herd of buffalo
He then responded to a large breeding herd of elephant near Entrance Dam, and when passing Entrance Dam, Patrick spotted Thumbela female leopard eating some of the reeds on the bank! 

Thumbela and her favourite log at Entrance Dam
Grant spent only a short while with her, as he had seen her the day before, and then proceeded by moving along the Machaton River to see the elephants and enjoyed a good sighting of them before heading home.

Grant's breeding herd of elephants in the morning
Elliot and I received new guests for the afternoon, and my guests were part of a photographic tour group that visits Motswari regularly just to photograph leopards, so that was the order of the day for me.

I started out by checking Argyle Dam, and there we found a small breeding herd of elephants feeding on the bank before going for a drink.  One of the larger females casually approached right up to Grant’s vehicle as she fed, and provided his guests with an amazing experience.

Elephant herd at Argyle Dam with Grant and his guests
I then headed down south to see Thumbela after she was found to still be sleeping at Entrance Dam.  Halfway there, I was starting to think I should have stayed in the north!  The three Mahlathini male lions had been found near Francolin Pan, but as leopards were my mission, I skipped on them.  Then “Argyle Male” was called in nearby on Sohebele Dam wall!  Grant turned around to respond, only to quickly discover that it was not the unmistakable Argyle Male, but instead another young but large leopard.  Grant was tempted to identify him as Gijima Male (the new name for “Shongile’s Brother”) were it not for the fact that Elliot found Gijima male below Argyle Dam wall, and then later on in on his way home, he found him sleeping on the dam wall itself before moving off.
This begs the question as to which leopard this was – not relaxed, but not overly nervous that he could not be followed?  I would hazard a guess that it is perhaps the Goya Rd male?
As if those two leopards and lions were not enough to bring the north to life, Elliot later also found Kuhanya female leopard as he closed down at camp...drinking at the little bird bath at reception before walking off towards the edge of camp.
So was it a mistake for me to go south?  Well not really – I just always hate missing out on sightings!  I still had a good afternoon and got to spend about an hour photographing Thumbela which was great, as very few other vehicles came to see her.

Thumbela not being as obliging as yesterday's lions!
She is such a photogenic leopard, that even when she is sleeping, she is a treat to view!

The photogenic Thumbela
She did wake up and move around a bit, and we eventually left her when she started stalking something as we did not want to interfere with her activities.

On the way back to the camp, we found a nice and obliging spotted-eagle owl that allowed us to park in the tree right next to it, as well as a biggish herd of buffalo drinking at Hide Dam.

Spotted Eagle Owl
So all in all, despite the quiet start to the day, it turned out to be another pretty good day for the Motswari guests...and once more, we all eagerly await to see what tomorrow will bring!


  1. This is the first set of pictures that show Thumbela is leaving her youngster face behind. It's so nice to see her growing up and turning into a beautiful adult!

  2. So nice to see Thumbelina again. And baby Oli is just gorgeous.

    Is there an explanation as to how the cats keep their mouths so hygienically pink healthy and clean.


  3. Another great day in the bush Chad!
    Great photos as always...

    Are there any news about the white lions as this is the first time in a long while that you have mentioned them?


  4. Howzit Lourens!

    Thanks for your loyal following!

    Nope, still no news on the white lions - there were white lions reported last weekend not far west of timbavati's western border, but nothing came across...possibly som interesting developments, but still awaiting more reliable information on that before we share it....will keep you in suspense until then!