Wednesday, 6 April 2011

05th April: Luck!

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive

( Herald & Grant)

Leopard ( Ntombi) / Vielmieter – Double Highway.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Back of Java.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) /

Afternoon Drive

( Herald & Grant)

Lion ( Mahlatini Male) / Karans – Western Cutline.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Western Cutline.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Dizzy Drive.

Daily Synopsis

Waking to another cloudy, overcast morning with a slight gale blowing, we did not have much to be positive about except the fact that it was not raining, oh ja, and how could we forget we had a Leopard with her Cub waiting for us in the South with a kill!

Driving out we still held hope that we could find Leopard in the North and began our search around camp and the surrounding area. Herald headed slowly South checking Argyle and Sohobele Dam on his way. We went West and checked Vyeboom Dam and then slowly turned South as well. Once again the radio was dead and the only sighting being called in was a breeding herd of Buffalo some distance South. Shortly after the radio came to life again, this time with news we would rather have not heard. Ntombi and her cub were no longer to be found at the sight of their kill from the night before, hmm............, oops!

The mornings game viewing was to be the same as the previous day with the only difference being that the Birds would have to come to our rescue today! Sticking to the water we had a great sighting of a Saddle Billed Stork, two Fish Eagles, a Grey and Green-backed Heron and a flock of Hamerkop's, all taking shelter from the wind below Vyeboom Dam wall.

Revising our mornings plans, we continued West in the hope of finding Rhino or an Elephant or two. Herald continued South wanting to view the Buffalo Herd.

Not finding any sign of Rhino or Elephant our morning was looking very bleak, till we found a drag mark not far North of Lily Pan, an area Mbali is often to be found in these days. Had our luck finally changed? Jacky and I jumped off the vehicle and begun to follow the drag mark expecting to find what we were looking for in a nearby Mopane thicket. Continuing through the thicket and no sign of the carcass we started to doubt that a female Leopard would be able to drag the size of prey we were following here, as it appeared to be a full grown Impala from the size of the drag marks. After about three hundred meters, we were standing amongst some Mopane when Jacky casually asked me if I could see him, I looked off into the distance and said no. He then explained that I needed look only ten meters away where the Leopard had been resting next to a full grown female Impala, that he had now left behind and run off to the shelter of another Mopane thicket fifty meters off. Just our luck, we finally find Leopard and it's a skittish one that we would not be able to view. We went back to fetch the car to return to show our guests our find, but by the time we got back he had already returned to claim what was rightfully his. We followed a short distance but quickly realised that we were not going to relocate him and if we did, we would unsettle him again, so we decide to leave him to enjoy his meal.

Taking drinks at Lily Pan we returned to the very good news that Ntombi had been relocated, this time with a small Impala kill which she had hoisted into a Marula Tree not far from where she had been the previous night. Our luck had finally changed. As is normal, on our way there the mornings invisible animals made themselves visible, with us having a nice sighting of Zebra, Giraffe, Waterbuck and even Impala! 

Spending as much time as we could with Ntombi, we finally had to make our way back to Motswari before Leigh served us up. Again we found a number of obstacles to delay us, this time in the form of a breeding herd of Buffalo, and lots of vultures sitting in a Marula Tree. The temptation was to great and Jacky and I had to go investigate once again. Having heard that Lions were calling in the area we were pretty sure that the Maghlatini's had killed something in the area. We did not find anything but will follow up this afternoon, as time had run out and at the rate we were going we would miss lunch, let alone brunch!  

The afternoon started in fairer conditions with the sun trying hard to break through the dark threatening clouds and luckily the rain stayed away. Having both seen the vultures on our drive back this morning we headed in their direction in the afternoon to follow up. I first popped in at Sohobele Dam looking for our Hippo group and a maybe get lucky and see our large crocodile that frequents the dam. While we found what we were looking for on both accounts, Herald made his way South, to follow up on the vultures.

It was not long before we received news that they had found one of the Maghlatini Males with a dead Giraffe. Interest peaked we headed in his direction. Arriving on scene we found one Maghlatini Male with a dead female Giraffe, it was not long before everyone had an opinion on what had happened and speculation ran riot!

Lets give you the facts, we had one female giraffe lying out in the open, appearing to have fallen over a small tree. She was bloated and had a front leg bone punctured through the hide of the shoulder region. The lion had not fed on much, only the facial meat and he had tried to gain access through the groin region only accessing some of the innards. She also had what looked like either the stomach lining or a foetus bloating through the anus. The Lion was lying in the shade nearby, he appeared full bellied and was breathing heavy. The tracks gave away nothing with a mixture of Giraffe, Lion and Vultures. Let me give you a minute to make your own assumptions before planting a number of seeds........................

  1. Did the Lion chase and catch the Giraffe?
  2. Did he stumble across the carcass, led by the Vultures?
  3. How did the Giraffe die, was it natural? Did it die of complications during calving? Could it be a snake bite? Did it die from breaking it's leg falling over the tree?
  4. Is the Giraffe even pregnant?
  5. How did the Giraffe break its leg?

Taking into account:

  1. The lion is alone.
  2. He is full bellied, but not from eating the Giraffe.
  3. The last two days have been extremely cool, so what's with the bloating.
  4. The Vultures have been around the carcass, so the Lion was not present at some stage.

Going to leave you to ponder this one and you can let me know your thoughts, see if you come up with as many scenarios as we did, there are some photos below that may help, or not!

Following our Lion, Giraffe guessing session the rest of drive seemed pretty mundane and was periodically interrupted throughout by a new theory. We did however come across a nice breeding herd of Buffalo.

Still looking for his Rhino, Herald headed to the East trying his luck, unfortunately it would appear even Heralds luck has limits. I'm sure it's nothing to worry about though as I'm sure it's refreshed daily! We'll see tomorrow.  


  1. interesting stuff - great shots of the smaller things - zebra shot is awesome; difficult to capture the feel of the timbavati and its vastness, but you did a good job here!

    i'll ask Heratio Caine to come help with your investigation...

  2. awesome flight photo of the saddlebilled stork! and the zebras too, so gorgeous. i couldn't look at the giraffe, had to scroll through those quickly!

  3. Agree with Lori on the stork, never seen one before - what a beaut. Zebra, my favourite animal, always a pleasure to see and I'm so glad the invisables are getting a viewing.. that snail is huge. You should try cleansing your own snails for the pot... my italian uncle did that with his garden snails.
    Me thinks the giraffe stuck his/her neck out to far once to often... Fabulous male lion!! But who would not want to swat something away that was biting at your backside.... that is a lot of meat!!! No wonder people are referred to as 'lion hearts' when they fear neither size no circumstance. Ntombi? is gorgeous!!
    Great pics, thanks.

  4. Great pics Grant. Love the Zebra shot.
    I do not think the lion caught it. I think it fell over the tree, broke its leg, and could not get up. Vultures was waiting for it to die, maybe the lion did come in to finish her off seeing she could not move or fend for herself.

    My view though.