Wednesday, 18 May 2011

17th May: Old Family, New Friends!

Pic of Ten Months.
Morning Drive.

( Herald, Grant & Godfrey.)

Lion ( 3 x Sohobele Males) / DeLuca – DeLuca Trough.
Leopard ( Argyle Male) / Argyle – Long Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Horizon Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Herald & Grant.)

Lion ( 7 x Skittish Pride) / Java – Marula Overhang.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Giraffe Kill.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Vyeboom Dam.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Horizon Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Mbali – Impala Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

Keeping to our promise of the evening before, Jacky, Difference and myself headed straight out to where Johannes had left the Sohobele Males the night before. When he left them they were preparing themselves to hunt Buffalo and were following behind one of the herds in the area. Arriving at where they had been resting on the road Jacky and Difference went on to foot to try find a general direction. Johannes also joined the search and started checking the boundaries on the North and Eastern sides. We had tracks that appeared to be heading to the West, which was a good thing as we were very close to the Kruger boundary on the East. While I checked the surrounding roads, Johannes found tracks for one Lion heading to the North following behind a Buffalo herd. I collected Jacky and Difference and took them to the latest track, while Johannes headed off to the North East to check for the Buffalo, he kept telling me, we find the Buffalo, we find the Lions. Once again leaving the trackers I headedd off to respond to Argyle Male who had been found in the Sohobele Riverbed very close to Motswari Airstrip. Along the way I heard Johannes contact the trackers and ask them to check a nearby trough with him. Reaching the standby point for Argyle Male, Difference radioed me to let me know they had found them, just typical! I was in two minds to turn around but decided against it choosing to visit Argyle Male first and then head back to the Sohobele Males. In hindsight I should not have, as the sighting of Argyle Male was a very poor one as he had chosen to sleep in a very thick patch of reeds in the riverbed. It was also a nightmare getting in and out of the sighting and we almost got to spend the rest of our morning grounded on a submerged log.  

Having had our fun getting in and out of the Sohobele Riverbed we set our sights on visiting long lost family. Arriving at the sight, we struggled to find them in amongst a very thick Mopane belt. They clearly had drunk at the trough and moved into the shade that the scrub provided, belly's full. We not sure what they caught as no evidence of a carcass was about but it was something small that they finished but big enough to satisfy the three of them. Seeing the three of them together and looking in such good condition has to be the highlight of my month thus far. They really are survivors and have come through a lot to be were they are to day, on the verge of adulthood! We can only hope they return to claim what once was theirs and fill the void that was left when they departed. Times are still early but if they can live in hope, so can we. Chad, remind me what it was you were saying about the future of the Sohobele Pride?

Afternoon drive was to be a chilled affair with us having a general outline for our drive. While we spent the morning tracking and finding the Sohobele Males, Giyani found himself Lions of a different pride. On his way back to Java he ran across a Buffalo carcass that had Lions running from it in every direction. He had found what we all have been waiting for, our new skittish pride on a kill, the work in getting them relaxed around the vehicles could now begin. Giyani kept his distance from the kill and quietly waited, given time to settle the pride started to appear from the surrounding bushes and some ventured towards the dead Buffalo. As time passed they once again started feeding and eventually Giyani had a fairly good sighting of six Lions and another three still partially hiding in the bushes. Limiting the sighting to one vehicle at a time the Lions seemed far more relaxed.

Having tracked them on a number of occasions and the trackers being the only one's to see them on each occasion, I was eager to see them for myself. Heading straight in their direction on afternoon drive we had Jacky vacate his office on the front of the vehicle and join me inside when we slowly approached the area of the kill. Once again with the arrival of the vehicle they turned and sluggishly moved off to the cover of the surrounding bush. We followed Giyani's example and killed the engine and sat patiently some distance from the kill, letting them get used to our presence. After plus, minus twenty minutes they seemed to accept us and a few of them started to make their way back to the kill. Once they were there and settled we started up again and moved a little closer, this time they only raised their heads and watched us but did not move off. We again parked at a comfortable distance and sat and watched as they settled in. From our count we had one male, three females and three cubs, but Herald who visited later found an addition cub. We spent the majority of our afternoon sitting with them and when we finally moved off, they were aware of us but did not move themselves.

Given time, patience and the luck they remain in the area, we should be able to relax them quite nicely and it will be nice to have a pride of Lions in the North.

Heading back North we received news that the had Ximhungwee, one of Argyle Jnr's cubs, it was unfortunately on the boundary of our traversing with Ingwelala, so we chose to take drinks and look for a Leopard after sundowners. Getting back onto drive we received news that they still had Ximhungweee, but now it had been joined by Argyle Jnr and her other cub, so there were the three of them walking along the boundary of Motswari and Ingwelala. We decide to, “ Ta Ta Ma Chance”, and headed in their direction but our progress was hampered by a herd of Buffalo, a herd of Giraffe and a particularly large Elephant Bull. Nearing the sighting we received news they had turned to the West and crossed the boundary, we were as close as being able to see the lights as they disappeared into the bush beyond our boundary. It was disappointing to miss out on seeing them but it was good to hear that all three of them were still in and around the area and ok.

Another eventful day, lets see what tomorrow holds.


  1. It is wonderful to see the sohebele's again! They look great! hope they stick around for a while.

    Hope your animals dont disappear now that chad is back! ;-)

    happy drives!

  2. Thanks for those excellent news. I'm soooooo glad that "my friends" are still alive and well! What great news! Hope they will be around in November.

  3. Great news having the old friends back and healthy as well!!!
    Hope they stay for good.
    Nice to have some new lions as well to follow.


  4. Yay for the Sohobeles! I'm glad they're alive and healthy.