Wednesday, 13 April 2011

13th April – Back to my Blog!

Photo of the Day
Male Waterbuck at Mbali Dam
Morning Drive
(Chad and Herald)
6 x elephants – Karans, Umbabat Cutline
10 x elephants – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing
2 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Long Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Camp

Afternoon Drive
(Chad and Herald)
3 x lions (Mahlathini males) – Vielmetter, Entrance Dam Rd
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Camp
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Vielmetter Camp
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Peter Pan Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Airstrip
1 x elephant – Java, Java Access
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Southern Access

Daily Synopsis
Hello again!  It seems so long since I last did this that I had to real the Help Menu on how to upload a blog post!  I also had to pick up my animal book a few times to help me identify some of the animals I saw the last few days J...and Lile, I am glad I was not the only one that noticed the trend that the animals tend to come out when I am on leave!
Anyway, I am back on drive for the next while, so I shall be keeping you all up to date on the sightings for the next couple of weeks.  After arriving back yesterday and heading straight onto drive I enjoyed good sightings of lion, elephant and a brief sighting of leopard last night, so along with Herald I took it easy in the morning.
I checked the Wedge to the north of camp for any sign of the lions that Doctor had heard roaring in the early hours of the morning, but they must have still been on Ingwelala, which didn’t surprise me all that much....well, not as much as the chill in the air did!  Wow, I couldn’t believe the change in weather conditions in the last week and a half!  Winter is definitely on its way!
Fortunately the chill didn’t stop all the animals.  I had a very nice sighting of a herd of giraffes near the camp; it was the largest group of giraffe I have seen for some weeks – amazing how sometimes there are giraffe everywhere, and at other times they all disappear! 
After the giraffe, I went to try and assist Herald in tracking Argyle male leopard (one of three leopards whose tracks were around the camp from last night!), but as he walked in every direction, it made tracking all but impossible.  We did find some buffalo bulls grazing near Argyle Dam, as well as a lone hippo in Argyle Dam.

Buffalo bulls
After coffee I went to check the east, but besides finding a nice group of elephant bulls and a flock of ground hornbills, there was not much activity in the east.  Herald also had a relatively quiet morning.

Elephant bull (taken 31st March in front of the Lodge)
My bush walk saw us seeing a lone buffalo bull opposite camp, a family of warthogs as well as the journey of giraffes.
In the afternoon, both Herald and I headed south to see the elephants that had gathered on Vielmetter.  In the end, we ticked off four different breeding herds of elephants on Vielmetter and Java, and Johannes had another further north along the Nhlaralumi River; seems like tall the elephants have returned along with the giraffes (of which I saw another few this afternoon).

One of four breeding herds of elephant this afternoon
Besides the elephant and some nice impala and warthog, our trip south included a stop off to see the three Mahlathini male lions that had covered some distance since last night.  They were sleeping near Entrance Dam and arose to move off just at sunset as we watched them.

The Mahlathini males - growing big quickly!  Look how dark their manes are getting too!
After that, I headed towards Elephant Dam finding a herd of zebra along the route.

Nice zebra herd with a foal
My main purpose for going to Elephant Dam for a drink was in the hope that the unknown pride of eleven lions that has been hanging around of late would turn up there for a drink (as they had been seen in the area in the morning, albeit still very nervous of the vehicles).  Although no lions arrive, a breeding herd of elephants did walk past.
I left the dam and headed back to camp, seeing more impala, elephant and a chameleon along the way...then the salt came out.  First I heard that Nthombi’s male leopard cub had been found at Elephant Dam not 15 minutes after we drove past, and then I heard the large pride of lions was found on Mangawaan Rd just north of Elephant Dam...Damn.  I guess it’s all about timing in the bush; right idea, wrong time!
Back at camp, we had two buffalo bulls I front of the lodge that chased off a hippo that came wandering past the camp waterhole while Grant and Marka’s guests were watching them; there timing is clearly better than mine!
Here is to hoping that my timing improves tomorrow!!!


  1. Good thing they got the inflatable giraffes out for you! Good luck tomorrow.

  2. It is always all about timing... How many times have you missed a leopard that just crossed the road... I lost count :-)
    Great pictures Chad.


  3. Great to see you back mate, been missing your blog!!

    Robin Hester

  4. Great photos and blog - thanks Chad.

  5. Beautiful pic of the day. The way you caught the shot of the young giraffe, looks like snakes squirming on it's head.. Medusa the Giraffe!!

    Yip, without taking away from the other guys, nice to have you back.

  6. How old are the Mahlathini males?
    I'm sorry about your timing. You gotta make piece with the animals! :)

  7. thanks for all the "welcome backs"!

    Lile, we are not 100% sure, butwhen they first arrived as unknown lions in April 2009, i put their age at between 3.5 and 4 years old...that would make them roughly 5.5 to 6 years old at the moment, and that is just over a year younger than the Timbavati Males in the south - it is scary to think how big the Timbavati males got between the age of 6 and 7, so i suspect that the same will happen to the Mahlathini males over the next year - they are going to be an amazing coalition!

    what is puzzling is why they are spending so much time in our area and not heading back north-west to where they used to spend time with the Timbati pride?

    @terry - hello hello! Yip, we found our inflatable giraffes! it seems taht eventually our giraffe sighitngs are back to normal - the guys still mock me about responding to a giraffe sighting like i had to do with you folks! hope you are all well back home!

    thanks wanda, lourens, robin and lai :)