Sunday, 29 May 2011

28th May – Awesome Lion Sighting

Photo of the Day
What a special sighting - Machaton Cubs and their Daddy :)
Morning Drive
11 x lions (Machaton Pride x 9 cubs and 2 x Timbavati Males) – Kings, Leisha’s Link
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Trade Entrance Pan
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Kings, Leisha’s Link
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Kings, Hyena Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Karans, Western Cutline

Afternoon Drive
(Cha and Marka)
11 x lions (Machaton Pride x 9 cubs and 2 x Timbavati Males) – Kings, Leisha’s Link
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Vielmetter Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – King’s Hyena Rd
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Argyle Dam

Daily Synopsis
Winter continued to bring its morning chill to the game drives...not that I would know, I was wrapped up warmly in bed!  Marka was not as warm, but he still had a very nice morning out there.
While standing in the morning meeting and being informed that I was going to be on drive again sooner than I had thought, the camp’s monkey population burst into a chorus of alarm calls, once again signalling that there was a leopard walking around the camp.  Despite being pesky nuisances for our waiters, the monkeys are quickly showing their value to the guides and what if they steal all of our bananas!
Anyway, I grabbed Herald, Magic Herald, and we went to check the river bed and northern side of the camp, but found nothing.  Not quite being dressed for the coolness of a morning drive, we headed back to the lodge to do some “proper” work, only to be greeted by Kuhanya female leopard walking on the banks of the small Trade Entrance Pan.  Awesome.  No camera.  No guests.  And something I had been looking for for the last 10 drives – a leopard in great golden light. 
While Kuhanya’s timing was rather poor, it was fantastic to see her again, and I radioed the other guides to tell them what we had found.  Marka having already seen three leopards last night, and having committed his drive to go down to King’s to see the Machaton lions didn’t respond, but considering the lack of leopards the last few days, there were a few stations that were only to pleased to hear what we had found.  It was also nice to return to the favour to the King’s guides and invite them up to see some our northern animals considering how good they have been of late with helping us out with lions.
I followed Kuhanya until the other guides arrived, and almost had an amazing sighting.  While following her, she began stalking a herd of impalas.  She was maybe 20m away with no cover between herself and the herd, so she retreated, and almost looked to have abandoned the stalk before circling around to the other side that had much more cover.  She found a small bush, and the next thing the herd popped out maybe 6-7m from her.  The herd male then started walking around trying to mate, and the females were all moving out of his way – had one female put a foot wrong, Kuhanya (who was out of sight) was just waiting to grab her.  Three impalas then saw her, and approached closer to investigate.  They could not have been more than 5m from her, yet they could not figure out what they were looking at, and didn’t sound the alarm.  Unfortunately for Kuhanya, the herd walked off and I then pulled out the sighting leaving her to try again.  I later heard that while she did leave the herd of impalas, she soon stalked and caught herself a guineafowl and fed on that, giving the other guides and guests a great sighting.
Marka went south and saw the two Timbavati male lions sleeping with the 9 Machaton cubs, while the lionesses had gone off to stalk a nearby herd of buffalo.  There were also plenty of elephants in the south, while I also saw a herd in the north.
In the afternoon, I was back on drive with guests that were just here for one night, and tried to relocate Kuhanya, but had no joy.  We did see a distant elephant, impala, hippo, crocodile and some nice birds before going south to see the breeding herd of buffalo that had moved up to Entrance Dam.
Fork-tailed Drongo
Heading south was relatively quiet, but well worth the trip in the end.  Yet again, King’s kindly invited me down to go and see the Machaton cubs and the Timbavati males, so once I had enjoyed a sighting of the buffalo herd feeding north of Entrance Dam, I carried on a bit further south to see the lions.

Buffalo herd and ox-peckers
While heading there, we found a small breeding herd of elephants, kudus and impala.  As the light was fading, I didn’t spend long with the elephants and carried on to the lions.
Elephant herd
The five smaller cubs were in the road, while the bigger cubs and two males were lying in the open just off the road.  We spent some time with the little ones as they played around, oblivious to the dangers that wandering away from daddy could present! They entertained us by playing with elephant dung, climbing trees, and just being plain cute!

Four-month old Machaton Cubs - a treat to watch!
We then moved over to the dad’s and the sleepy bigger cubs, but the males had woken up and were yawning and grooming.

Timbavati males and older Machaton cubs
It didn’t take long for the little cubs to return, and when dad woke up, they cautiously stalked up to him, and in what was definitely my best sightings of them, began playing with him!  It was absolutely stunning to watch, and wonderful to see him interacting back with them!

Amazing to see the interaction between this male and his cubs!
After a bit of play, he approached the bigger cubs, and they also showed some affection to him, but didn’t follow as he wandered off.

Father and cubs
It got dark and we decided to leave them in peace, but not before watching the large Timbavati male resting in the road with the sun setting in the background...just another tough day in Africa!

Tough way to end the day - the King of the Jungle, and the Chickens of the Bush (Guineafowl!)
Heading back to the lodge after drinks, we found a large-spotted genet and a civet, and heard impalas alarm calling at what was no doubt a leopard, but couldn’t find it. 
Marka spent his afternoon taking it easy in the north, looking for leopard, but came up empty handed. 
The day ended off with us all having a scrumptious dinner in the boma, with a large fire and some hot water-bottles to keep us warm.  Not a bad day, even I if I say so myself.  Let’s hope tomorrow produces more of the same!


  1. Fantastic captures of a precious moment.
    The Timbavati male looks a bit clumsy playing with his kids! :)
    Thanks for sharing amazing photos again!


  2. Hi Chad.... You forgot mention that those monkeys also like taking toast.... out the toaster too...(and they dont just annoy the waiters but the F&B Manager as well!!)

  3. Wow, what an amazing sighting of the Machatons.
    @Leigh, LOL!

    Tammy Lee

  4. Fantastic pictures of a male lion playing with cubs. You don't get to see that often. Thank you.


  5. Wow, thanks for sharing.
    I am a nature lover and spend most my weekends in the game reserve.

    Celia Watkins