Saturday, 21 May 2011

20th May – My Luck is Turning!

Photo of the Day
Kissing waterbuck :)
Morning Drive
(Chad and Herald)
2 x lions (Machaton Lionesses) – Tanda Tula, Sunset Rd
1 x lion (Machaton Lioness) – Kings, Cheetah Plains
1 x leopard (Rockfig Jnr Female) – Kings, Hyena Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Mbali, Aardvark Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Java Dam Access
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Hyena Den Rd
5 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Trough Rd (on walk)

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Johannes and Herald)
1 x leopard (Shongile’s Brother) – Argyle, Lover’s Leap
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Sohebele Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Motswari, Wedge River Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Motswari, Sharalumi Eastern Access
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd West
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Flooded Crossing
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Southern Access
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Trough

Daily Synopsis
Following last night’s 6.5mm of rain, we awoke to a cloudy and chilly morning, and one that didn’t really warm up much until after midday, but it was still a very enjoyable day at Motswari, and proof that my luck is changing!
The morning started off with me checking the usual spots around the north for any sign of leopard, or anything else, but the cool weather seemed to be keeping many of the animals in hiding, and we only ticked off impala and a troop of baboons around Argyle Dam.
The southern stations had found the Machaton lionesses, and kindly invited us down to go and see them, so Herald and I slowly made our way south – my intention anyway – also half hoping that the tracks for wild dogs would turn into a sighting.
Herald followed up on tracks for some buffalo, and soon found a large breeding herd resting north of Java Dam, and as if that was the sighting that opened the “buffalo tap”, buffalo herds were being called in all over the northern traversing area!  I found a herd south of Sohebele Dam, Herald another on Vielmetter, and three other herds were called in within a very short space of time!

buffalo herd
I carried on towards Hide Dam, seeing many more impala and some warthogs before a welcome cup of coffee at Hide Dam.  Following that I headed down towards Cheetah Plains for the one Machaton lioness and the four bigger cubs, only to hear that the cubs had disappeared down into the Machaton Riverbed.  I carried on, having no luck finding any further signs of the wild dogs, and spotted the lionesses lying in the open at a distance, but as we arrived, she got up and went and plopped herself in amongst a thick of small guarri trees, and we were left with a 1 out of 5 sighting.  Oops!
I then decided to rather chance my arm with the other two lionesses, and did manage to relocate them sleeping near Sunset Plains (which was full of impala and warthogs) and enjoyed a better visual of them, besides the fact that they were ‘flat cat’ and didn’t do anything exciting.

Machaton Lionesses
We started making our way back to the lodge, but got interrupted when Petros pointed out a leopard up a tree.  Oh darn!  Dont you just hate it when that happens?  Anyway, we decided to stop and admire her for a while; “her” being the beautiful Rockfig Jnr.  She was looking immensely fat – no doubt having eaten well the last few days, but also possibly one month pregnant I was told by the southern stations.  Let’s hope so!  Either way, she was not in the mood to do anything too strenuous, and simply lay there posing for us in the marula tree.  We eventually pulled ourselves away and headed back to camp finding some giraffe and a few smaller things along the way.

Rockfig Jnr - Looking more and more like her mom!
On walk we found a group of elephant bulls, but they were quite steadily mobile, so we didn’t get too close to them.
In the afternoon, I took it very easy in the north, and tried to see if there was any sign of Argyle Jnr female leopard and her two cubs that had been seen north of the camp in the morning, but I had no luck of any sign of her, although we did find two nice breeding herds of elephants in the area, and got to spend some nice time watching them feeding right next to our vehicle!

Breeding herd of elephants
The baboons were on Argyle Dam again, and having a big domestic dispute!

Baboons on Argyle Dam
We carried on and soon found what we were looking for; some different animals!  First it was in the form of a beautiful herd of very photogenic waterbuck on Piva Plains, as well as a nice herd of impalas and some zebra with them. 

Photogenic herd of waterbuck
While watching them, the impalas started to alarm call, and they were joined by the waterbuck, but it sadly proved to be a false alarm.  We then herd of fresh male leopard tracks nearby and went in search of him.  While watching some more impala with a herd of kudus, they too started alarm calling, but again, it proved to be a false alarm!

Impala and waterbuck
We then called off our leopard search to stop and enjoy a fantastic sunset, and drank to a successful day!  While having drinks, the male leopard called to the north of us, and was located shortly after we finished out drinks, so we headed over to Piva Plains to see him.  Unfortunately it turned out not to be Argyle Male, but rather his more nervous son, Shongile’s Brother.  He moved down to Lover’s Leap and had a drink, and we had a distant visual as he finished up and walked up the rocks to Lover’s Leap before going around to join Grant (who had come out for a short drive after his and Johannes’s group arrived late).  There was a herd of elephants at Flooded Crossing that we bypassed and got to see the young male leopard a bit closer, but he was walking quite quickly, and moved into the area of some impalas, and ran off a bit.  I decided not to put pressure on him, so left him with Herald, who too left him in peace when he started to stalk some impala that had earlier spotted him.

What a way to end the day!
Heading back to camp, we had yet another herd of elephants, as well as a few different elephant bulls near and inside the camp!  It was a great way to end off a very enjoyable day at Motswari...let’s hope that it continues!


  1. thats one full day !! hasnt beat my 1st morning there yet ! ( i am bias )

    wonderful photos as always chad the top leopard one being my fav


  2. Just wonderful!!!

    Sue UK

  3. The waterbuck are gorgeous. The close-ups fantastic. Thanks. Wanda

  4. WOW, great day and update Chad!!!