Wednesday, 11 May 2011

09th May – Really???? Still No Lions???

Photo of the Day
Gorgeous Kuhanya
Morning Drive
2 x elephant bulls – Peru, No Name Rd
1 x elephant cow – Motswari, Airstrip Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd

Afternoon Drive
1 x leopard (Kuhanya Female) – De Luca, Drongo Drive
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Sharalumi Crossing

Daily Synopsis
As with everyday the last two weeks, I headed out there hoping that during the night, some of our lions would make a return and all I wanted to see were their large tracks littering the road to give me that feeling of excitement that lions bring...but as the cool morning started to warm up, and as time went by without any sign of lions, my heart started to sink again.
Fortunately though, the bush is not just about the Big 5 and the cats...they are wonderful, but then so are all of the animals, as well as the beauty of the Timbavati.  My guests were just happy to be out there, so again, we took it easy this morning and spent time with the impalas, enjoying the view of the distant Drakensberg Mountains, some kudu and then some elephant bulls.

Impalas with the distant Drakensberg Mountains
We pulled up to watch the one elephant bull feeding about 20m from us, and just sat quietly and enjoyed as another came into view.  They were totally unphased by our presence and slowly the one bull fed closer and closer to us, finding the green grass under a fallen tree next to our vehicle too appealing, and he came within a couple of metres of us and just stood there feeding – it was a simple sighting, but absolutely amazing to be sat that close to these amazing creatures. 

Drongo and Elephant
My guests loved it, and despite having visited game reserves many, many times before, said that they had never been that close to an elephant in the wild, and it gave us a chance to see the details in the texture of the skin, trunk, tail, eyelashes, etc that made it a pretty special sighting, even for me!
Eventually he moved off and so did we, and headed towards Mbali Dam.  There were a lot of animals around there; loads of impala, seemingly the reserves entire population of waterbuck, hippos, crocodiles and some wonderful birds including saddle-billed storks and hammerkops.  We enjoyed a cup of coffee on the banks of the dam before heading back to the camp.
As the morning warmed up, the animals started coming out; first a breeding herd of elephants with some small babies, then a giraffe and a very small baby of no more than a couple of weeks old, impala around every corner, another herd of giraffes, a family of warthogs excitedly greeting their dad, and another new born giraffe and it’s mother on out airstrip.  So while the cats eluded us, the other animals made for a good morning!

Baby giraffes, big giraffes, and a family reunion of warthogs!
The afternoon saw us needing cats though, perhaps it was the pressure I was putting on myself, but I was starting to feel my lack of cats the last few days!  We headed out and checked north of the lodge for any sign of Kuhanya whose tracks had been seen near the camp in the morning.  We didn’t find any sign of her, but we did find a nice breeding herd of elephants a few hundred metres from the camp.
We carried on and checked Argyle Dam, yet despite all my wishing that there would just be a leopard sleeping on the dam wall, there wasn’t.  I checked an area around where tracks for a male and a female leopard had been seen in the morning, but came up with nothing fresh.  Just as my frustration was building, I got a call to tell me that Kuhanya had been seen just east of the camp heading into De Luca.  I was delighted at this news, but worried that she wouldn’t still be there by the time I was De Luca after all (read: “Mopane Haven”)!!!

Tree Agama
Fortunately though, there was still a sighting of her when I arrived, and she was actually walking in a relatively good area for a good part of the sighting, and we had a very nice sighting of her.  I was also happy to be able to show her to my guests, as during their last visit they saw a lot of Kuhanya (when she was still called Mbali Jnr and only one year old!). 

After a while, Kuhanya found the area I was worried she would walk into, and the bush got too much for even my Land Rover to follow, and we lost her as she disappeared into the woodland.  Still, I was feeling a lot happier about the drive!

Kuhanya posing as always!
We wandered north and had a drink at Mpela-pela before heading back to the camp after checking a bit of Argyle Rd, hoping to get lucky with some lions, but again, it was not to be!  As if to rub a whole wad of salt in my ever growing lion-wound, I arrived back at the lodge and heard that at the very point where I turned around on Argyle Rd, one of our staff had seen the Jacaranda Pride sleeping on the road the afternoon before!!!  Unfortunately the phone lines in the area were down, so they couldn’t get hold of us to tell us!  Murphy and his damn Laws!

End of another wonderful day in Africa!
Guess we’ll just have to try again tomorrow!


  1. Fantastic collection again, Chad, you don't have one dull moment there, do you? Groete, Peter (Photoza)

  2. And the winner is...... from Motswari in SA... Kuhanja!!!! Yay, whoop whoop, cheers and whistles!!!

  3. Oh my word I can't believe we were there for the above! Pity my photos look nothing like yours :( Well done Chad, and thanks for answering the millions of questions so patiently. Your knowledge on wildlife is astonishing - be it about fireflies or weird partridge behaviour!
    Karen Ferguson