Tuesday, 19 April 2011

18th April – Baby Boom!

Photo of the Day

Morning Drive
(Chad and Herald)
12 x lions (Machaton Pride: 3 x lionesses and 9 x cubs) – Umlani, Elloff/Rhino Midden
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
2 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Long Rd

Afternoon Drive
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Peru, Apple Leaf Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Peru, Xinzele Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Argyle, Long Rd

Daily Synopsis
Monday is not everyone’s favourite day, but fortunately in the bush, days don’t matter, and the animals clearly weren’t going to disappoint us today!  We actually had a really great day of game viewing, and as I have been a bit shy in uploading photos over the last few days, I decided to make up for it today by sharing 64 of the over 400 pictures I took today!
The day started off cloudy and cool, and stayed that way all day, but it also stayed dry, so it was already an improvement on yesterday.  Difference (Herald’s tracker) had a great start to the day...he found Kuhanya female leopard within one minute of leaving his house!  She was lying near the pathway between the staff village and the camp!  Unfortunately though, despite spending some good time looking for her, we didn’t have any luck and eventually made our way out of the area.
Not far from camp we had a couple of elephant bulls and baboons near Argyle Dam, and the usual waterbuck and impala on the clearings around the dam as well as hippos in both Argyle Dam and Sohebele Dam (disappointingly I drove past Sohebele Dam and didn’t find a leopard!).

Waterbuck, elephant bull (and Petros) and impalas around Argyle Dam
After that, both Herald and I took liberty of an invitation by the southern stations to head way down south to see some lions, especially as it looks as if the Mahlathini males disappeared off the southern boundary into Mananga.  Heading south was actually a bit quiet, but I took my time and checked Hide Dam and Entrance Dam, only finding impala and some kudu.  Carrying on past Eagle Owl Plains and Cheetah Plains surprisingly produced very little besides impala, but that was all forgotten about when we eventually arrived at the Machaton Pride.
The 12 lions were found sleeping in the same spot that they had been yesterday after feeding on a zebra, and were all sleeping out in the open, fat-bellied and enjoying the cool weather.  As we arrived last in the sighting, we were not forced to rush through it, and spent about three-quarters of an hour watching them.

Machaton cubs
The cubs are just too cute for words, and naturally wouldn’t be sleeping for long before moving around!  While they weren’t overly playful, there was still some good interaction and as they had chosen such an open setting, it was just wonderful to sit and watch them doing their thing like that!


Playful cubs
The mothers are looking in great condition, and I really hope that they can have some luck in raising these cubs to maturity.

Machaton mothers doing a good job so far!
Eventually we had to pry ourselves away and head back to camp.  The long trip back was broken by a nice sighting of a large herd of probably 300-400 buffalos moving away from Hide Dam after having had a drink.

Large breeding herd of buffalo at Hide Dam
We also found this snake in a tree at Hide Dam, and when Johannes went to look at it, he found another python that had just caught a dove!

After such a great morning, the afternoon was always going to be quieter, and while we didn’t see any cats, we still had fantastic sightings of a whole host of general game.  The theme for ‘Babies’ continued in almost all of the species we saw!
Besides impalas and their young, we saw a couple of families of warthogs around the airstrip as well as a troop of baboons.

Baboons and Mataeele Ants
Carrying on we had an old buffalo bull and more impalas, hippos and waterbuck as we headed towards the Nhlaralumi, hoping to find some elephants, and find them we did!  Although it wasn’t a big herd that we found near Mbali Dam, the ten elephants provided for some great viewing, and were very relaxed and came and fed only a couple of metres from the Land Rover. 

Elephant herd
 The best part of the herd was a new born baby that was probably no more than a week or two old and still had the umbilical cord on its belly.  It was still a bit unsteady on its feet and fell a couple of times as it followed mom.

Very young elephant calf
Leaving the elephants, we found a big herd of waterbuck that had nice babies too; with them was a herd of kudu with young, impala and another troop of baboons with some cute babies!

Waterbuck, kudu and baboons
Not far from all of them was a small herd of giraffe.

Giraffe herd
After drinks at Buffalo Pan, we headed back towards the lodge to see if we could find leopard, but didn’t have much luck with that.  We did find another buffalo bull and some Giant Eagle Owls.  The highlight though was a quick sighting of a family of porcupines near camp; it was two massive adults with a couple of very small babies walking away between the protective adults!
For our two guests in camp, we prepared a special private dinner for their honeymoon in our boma, and they had a very enjoyable meal to top off another fantastic day at Motswari...i cant wait to see what tomorrow produces!


  1. Chad, what can I say... WOW. Great pictures.
    Love the lion cubs. And the general game is great. Thanks for the update.


  2. Was worth waiting a couple days. Your B&W pics are great. All the babies in every species are just gorgeous. The snake is huge and looks very menacing. Thanks for all the 'different' stuff. We are all so into 'fixes' of the big 5 stuff we forget the wonder and beauty of the 'little' things. Nice to be reintroduced to them.

  3. Beautiful photos as ever, I love the young buff, it looks so sweet.

    The whole blog is full of wonderful photos, thanks so much Chad.