(Chad, Marka and Johannes)
3 x lions (Mahlathini males) – Scholtz, Big Dam Wallow
1 x leopard (Thumbela female) – Vielmetter, Entrance Dam
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Reception
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Argyle, Vyeboom Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Peru, Western Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp
2 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Voel Dam
(Chad, Marka, Johannes and Elliot)
3 x lions (Mahlathini males) – Scholtz, Big Dam
2 x leopards (Rockfig Jnr and Thumbela females) – Vielmetter, Crossing Below Entrance Dam
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Wisani Crossing
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Trade Entrance Pan
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Scholtz, Kudu Pan
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Trade Entrance Pan
The ‘disappointments’ of yesterday (from a cat front anyway) were short lived, and today proved to be a pretty good day for game viewing at Motswari; not only with the return of some lions, but also some great leopard viewing!
That being said, I did have a bit of a quiet morning personally, and failed to find any of the spotted cats that I was so desperate for. Marka and Johannes did fair a great deal better; Marka tracked and found Thumbela female leopard sleeping at her new favourite spot, Entrance Dam, and Johannes went to check if there was any sign of the Mahlathini male lions returning. He too soon found tracks and didn’t take long to track them down, resting near a mud wallow close to Scholtz Big Dam.
My morning’s highlight was a small breeding herd of elephants that arrived to drink at Vyeboom Dam, and in the beautiful morning light, provided my guests with some very good photographic opportunities.
|African Hawk Eagle|
Other than that, I had sightings of waterbuck, hippos in and outside of the water, a couple of buffalo bulls, impala, giraffe, bushbuck and a nice crocodile basking in the sun.
|Young Nile Crocodile at Buffalo Pan|
|Buffalo bulls at Voel Dam|
There were tracks for a leopard going from our airstrip past Argyle Dam, and while we had half hoped that it was Kuhanya leopardess, but it turns out it was not (most likely Argyle Jnr female); this we knew because we found Kuhanya coming to have a drink at the birdbath at reception in the middle of the day. The reason for this was that Grant and Johannes located a drag-mark and followed it to the site where she had killed a small antelope; something for the afternoon we thought?
Well, it would have been had she not chosen the most inaccessible area – the bush was just so thick that we didn’t even bother trying to locate her in it. We just hope that she takes whatever it is that she killed up a tree before the hyenas get it!
Despite that disappointment, we actually had a very good afternoon, thanks primarily to a trip down south to where Thumbela leopardess had been found, then lost, and then in trying to relocate, the guide found Rockfig Jnr sleeping full-bellied in the Machaton Riverbed north of Entrance Dam. I made my way there, and arrived to find Rockfig Jnr still sleeping under a bush and not offering any chance of good photos.
Just as my patience was about to falter and I was getting ready to leave the sighting to go and look for Thumbela, Rockfig Jnr looked up and out of the thicket came Thumbela! She lay down in the riverbed not far from us and began to groom! The cameras in the land rover went crazy, and looking at these photos, I am sure you can see why! She is quickly becoming my new favourite leopard!
After some time we made way for the other game drive vehicles to come and view her, and I then made my way eastwards towards where Johannes had re-tracked the Mahlathini male lions to Scholtz Big Dam. En route, we also found a breeding herd of buffalo at Hide Dam, with a dramatic sky in the background.
They looked fat and sleepy, but after spending some time with them, and again as we were ready to leave, they awoke and started interacting and grooming before moving down towards the water’s edge where we left them with Marka.
|Rockfig Jnr sleeping near her kill|
|Thumbela cleaning up for the cameras!|
|Petros and a buffalo herd at Hide Dam|
|The Magnificent Mahlathini Male Lions!|
Besides those good sightings, we also saw an African Wild Cat drinking at Kudu Pan; the same place that Elliot had earlier seen a herd of elephants drinking.
Back at camp, we finished off the drive with a sighting of a buffalo bull and an elephant bull at Trade Entrance Dam!