Sunday, 1 May 2011

30th April: Not A Lion, Yet!

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Chad, Grant & Godfrey)

Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / JayDee – Makulu Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Vyeboom Dam.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Mbali – Buffalo Kill.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Nkoro Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / JayDee – Makulu Rd.
Leopard ( Ntombi) / Vielmieter – Double Highway.
Wild Dog ( 7 x Pack) / Kings – Little Ridge.

Afternoon Drive.

( Chad, Grant & Godfrey)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Karans – Moeniejag Crossing.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Vielmieter Access.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Kings – Leisha's Link.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Karans – Mamba Drive.
Lion ( Machaton Females & Cubs) / Tanda Tula – Rhino Loop.

Daily Synopsis.

The day started off under beautiful clear sky's with a slight chilly breeze blowing, but perfect photographic conditions, so all we needed was a subject! Myself and Godfrey headed out towards the airstrip to see if Kuhanya had been successful with her previous nights hunting. Chad, like the rest of us, desperate for Lion, headed to the North East where Lions had been calling in the wee hours of the morning.

Although both of us came up empty handed, Godfrey and I were rewarded with a relaxed bull Elephant on the airstrip who obligingly posed for our photo's.

Going our separate ways, Godfrey headed South in a slow response to the Wild Dog who had been found again. We slowly meandered passed Argyle and Sohobele Dam still holding hoping to pick up on Kuhanya, but alas she had other plans. We did have a nice sighting of the group of Hippo's that live in Sohobele Dam, and the morning was taking on a nice chilled tempo.  

We then turned to the West, where while watching a couple of Waterbuck, we heard the distinctive alarm calls of Impala nearby. Making our way to the source of the commotion we found ourselves in the centre of an area that Mbali frequents and were sure she must be present. Circling around the roads in the area we found nothing, but the Impala were still going made and the birds had now joined in. We ventured off road into a very thick Mopane belt, where we were whipped silly by branches, the price you must pay for the prize! After what felt like an eternity we had found nothing, we then got a break, Guinea Fowl started going ballistic fifty metres away, we rushed in their direction, again arriving to find nothing. This was now becoming weird, she must be playing with us. Then out of the corner of his eye Jacky found the source of the commotion, pointing less than ten metres to our right we saw the tail of an African Wildcat disappear back into the Mopane thicket that had just punished us! Amazing how the bush keeps teaching you lessons, or maybe it is just me, in this case, expect the unexpected!

Knowing where Chad had headed I'm sure he was going through the same thing, and it was not long before I heard him radio in that he had been unsuccessful in his Lion search and would be leaving the area. Returning to our chilled drive we turned South looking for a Breeding Herd of Elephant, and if time allowed a visit to the Wild Dog.

Following the Tsharalumi South we came across our breeding herd of Elli but appraoching them they were not that comfortable and kept moving off. So not wanting to stress them we left them to look for a more relaxed herd. We did not have to wait long and found a huge breeding herd with lots of young no older than a few weeks, in sharp contrast they were very relaxed and allowed us to get in amongst them and join the herd. Around the same time Chad also found himself a nice herd in the far North around Vyeboom Dam.

Enjoying the herd we finally left wanting to squeeze in a visit to the Wild Dogs but this was hampered by Ntombi magically appearing from nowhere. Amazing how you spend your time looking and are sure you are onto something and nothing comes of it, and then when you least expect it, it shows itself. We are not complaining though and spent some quality time with her as she half heartedly stalked a couple rutting male Impala and then proceeded to carry on marking her territory when the attempt failed.

The two sightings became one and chose to join the Wild Dogs as Ntombi carried on her way South. Again the sighting was not that fantastic from a photographic point of view as they had taken shelter in a Purple Pod Cluster Leaf thicket, but was none the less great to just sit and observe them.

All in all it was a fantastic morning, lets see what the afternoon has in-store for us.

The afternoon started off with Chad and myself desperately needing Lion. Having heard they had found the Machaton Females with their cubs on Tanda Tula in the morning, we organised that we could visit them in the afternoon. So needless to say we both headed straight South on our favourite road, Western Cutline. Surprisingly there where a few worthwhile sights along the way in the form of a breeding herd of Elephant and a little further on a nice breeding herd of Buffalo. After spending a fair amount of time with them both we continued on, not wanting to get distracted from our mission. Crossing Double Highway it is a beautiful drive as the thicker bush gives way to open plains with the majestic Machaton Dam in the middle.

While we eagerly awaited our turn we spent some time with a curious family of Dwarf Mongooses, which was fun to watch as they appeared to make a game of who was brave enough to approach the vehicle the closest, before scurrying off for the shelter of a nearby log. Our number being called we left them to their game and headed for the Lions.  

As we approached the sighting it appeared to be split in two, we first stopped off with a cub who had climbed into a tree to take a nap, al la Leopard style. It was a cute sighting and I later found out the highlight of many of my guests trip.

When we proceeded to the second sighting, it was a disappointment as the Lionesses had moved with the rest of the cubs into an unaccessible riverbed leaving us with a very obscured view of one of the younger cubs playing with a twig on the sand below. I had moved forward to make space for Chad so that he could view the cub in the tree, but when I looked back he was pulling up behind me. Asking him if he had seen the cub in the tree, he responded that he had watched it climb down and walk off into the riverbed to join the rest. Oh oh....................................................................................................

Having seen the one cub very nicely we made space for Chad so that he may try eek out a view. Not having much success Chad decided he had not travelled that far for a tail, and undeterred by the thick riverine vegetation tried a new approach from the opposite bank. It appeared his luck changed once on the other side and they got to view most of the cubs and the Lionesses, at one stage two of the younger cubs approaching very close to the vehicle. So well worth the effort and I'm sure a highlight for his guests.

Godfrey not under the same “ Lion Pressure” , as his guests had seen while in the Sabi Sands, had himself a very relaxed afternoon and took in a number of general game species and a large breeding herd of Elephant. Hope I can have a day like that soon!

With our guests checking out tomorrow it would be nice to be able to show them a fully grown Lion, so I think a trip around the North and Western borders will be in order in the morning, see if the Mahlatini's may have returned.

Till tomorrow!  


  1. Grant if these are your photos on the drive, whow, they are gorgeous... all the animals. Love the bird pics. At last I now know that those are, Mongoose, they are so 'cute'. Lovely day out for us here behind our PC's. Thanks.

  2. Good morning!

    Chad here, but these photos are indeed taken by Grant on the day's two game drives! Its the reason why we run the blog, to show guests what they can expect to see - and also to show that it is not always about the big animals!

    hope you enjoy reading the blog :)