Monday, 25 April 2011

23rd April – Another Wonderful Day of Quality Game Viewing!

Photo of the Day
Kuhanya - Queen of the North

Morning Drive
(Chad, Godfrey, Andre and Herald)
3 x lions (Mahlathini males) – Jaydee, Den Rd
1 x leopard (Nthombi’s boy with impala kill) – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Peru, Sohebele Dam
12 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam
2 x elephant bulls – Peru, Wild West
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd West
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Camp

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Andre and Herald)
3 x lions (Mahlathini males) – Peru, Argyle Rd
3 x leopards (Gama Female and her two cubs on a kudu kill) – Peru, Hippo Rocky Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Peru, Mangwa Clearing
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Java, Leopard Rock Hide
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Argyle, Argyle Dam
5 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Bush Braai Rd
3 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Airstrip
2 x elephant bulls – Peru, Hippo Rocky Rd
2 x elephant bulls – Leguaan Rd
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Camp

Daily Synopsis
Saturday was another great day of game viewing at Motswari, and all of the guests thoroughly enjoyed it!
It started off with John, our night watchman telling us that Kuhanya had taken a walk through camp at 4h06 this morning, and headed to the east, so we set about looking for any sign of her without much luck sadly. 
I decided upon a chilled morning and decided to spend some time in the east, looking primarily for zebras.  Herald had called in a group of elephant bulls on Sean’s Clearing, so I made my way over there, seeing at least three other lone bulls along the way.  At Sean’s Clearing, we found a rather large gathering of about a dozen elephant bulls of all shapes and sizes, but what was so great was that they were all in a fighting mood, and one individual was trying to challenge any elephant that came near him!

Fighting elephant bulls
After some time they came towards the road, and then decided that he wanted to challenge us and put on a great display of trumpeting and bush-thrashing before we left them and carried on towards the Kruger Boundary.

Golden Orb-web Spider
It was a bit quiet out there, and Godfrey called to tell me he couldn’t believe how much general game he was seeing down south – herd after herd of zebra, giraffe and a herd of 22 wildebeest!  I was a bit jealous, but decided to enjoy the solitude of the east.  We took out time and looked at termite mounds, impala and eventually enjoyed a cup of coffee with a hippo and some impala and zebra at Majambi Dam.

Zebras and impalas
After that, we saw another three herds of zebras in the east and plenty impala before heading back to Sohebele Dam for more hippos and some good water birds.  While watching the hippos a small breeding herd of elephants popped up behind us to come and a drink of water!

More zebras and elephants at Sohebele Dam
We returned to camp and saw more elephant and a big group of warthogs with some males that were quite keen on fighting, so it turned out to be a good morning.
The other guides saw a few more cats; Godfrey found Nthombi’s boy with a kill near Elephant Dam, but he seemed quite protective over it and even charged Godfrey!  Less grumpy were the three Mahlathini male lions that were found near our western boundary and went static; so knowing that they would be there in the afternoon, I decided to pass.
After breakfast, I was just getting ready for my nap when I got a message that Marka had found a leopard up a Marula tree on Sean’s Clearing, and I went and asked my guests if they wanted to go see her; a few minutes later we were watching the beautiful Kuhanya resting up in the tree!

Kuhanya leopardess
We spent about 40-minutes with her as she descended the tree and half-heartedly tried to stalk some rutting impalas, but they spotted her and she moved off.

Kuhanya on the prowl
In the afternoon, lions were on my agenda, as were baby elephants.  I slowly headed towards Mbali Dam where a breeding herd of elephants had been seen (the ones with the week old baby), but I didn’t have luck relocating them (Herald and Andre later did).  Instead I carried on south along the Nhlaralumi and went to see a large herd of elephants at Leopard Rock Hide.
It was a wonderful sighting of probably 35-40 elephants spread out feeding on the lushness of the Nhlaralumi, and it was quite something to sit dead still and have the whole herd, including many tiny youngsters, come and move within metres of the vehicle!

Stunning herd of elephants with loads of babies!
Sadly we had to pull ourselves away to go and see some lions (I know, it’s tough!).  Unfortunately the guide in change of the sighting was a bit confused and kept saying that the lions were mobile south; for me, that was great, as that meant they would stay on our property.  It was thus a massive surprise and shock to hear that the lions were now only 60m from Argyle Rd and our western boundary!  I had to suddenly put on a good turn of speed, because if they crossed, that was the end of our lion sighting.  Fortunately the three lions went static on the warm tar, and we got to see them sleeping in the ‘open’ (forgive the setting!!!).  Sadly we couldn’t spend as long as I wanted with them as they could have gotten up at any minute and moved off, so after about 15 minutes I made space for the other stations and went to enjoy a drink.

Mahlathini male lions sleeping on Argyle Rd (Timbavati's entrance road)
After drinks I headed over to go and see what was happening with our leap of leopards and their kudu kill.  Over the course of the afternoon, all of our guests got to see them; Herald and Andre went during the day time and had reasonably good sightings of the mother and one of the cubs.  I went after dark again and found the young female cub sleeping in a drainage line near the kill, but she didn’t seem totally at ease.

Young female cub
One of the other leopards was feeding on the kill, and I was convinced it was the mother, despite my guests saying how much smaller she was than the leopard we had seen in the morning (Kuhanya).  I dismissed that and said that I was sure it was the mother....until I saw something that only little boys have!  It was indeed the male cub, and I just couldn’t get over how big he was!  Even better, he was as relaxed as his mother was last night and we had a fantastic sighting of him feeding on the kill at the same sort of range we would view our ‘usual’ leopards – quite unbelievable!

Young male cub feeding - definitely older than I first guestimated!
We eventually left them and headed back to camp, finding some wonderful fireflies and a hyena on the way home, as well as a bonus of a porcupine one the airstrip!  He seemed so chilled and didn’t move when I joined Herald.  He had tried to walk under a small branch, and appeared for all intents and purposes to be stuck.  While we don’t usually interfere, I am sure he had only gone under the branch because of the presence of the Land Rovers, so I obliged and we removed the branch and he went scuttling off....right into another bush!  Guess he really wanted to be there!

Porcupine on the airstrip
Well that was it for another fantastic day; can’t wait to see what Easter Sunday has in store for us!


  1. Just a little bit jealous - sitting here in Switzerland and (only) reading your blog. But please proceed Chad ... Good stories and even incredible pics.

  2. Great photos, you can not go wrong with Mother Nature, keep clicking and sharing, we all enjoy this photography!

    ~ Cesar, Tampa-FL