Friday, 10 June 2011

08th June – Feasting White Lions!

Photo of the Day
Grooming Machaton Lioness

Morning Drive
13 x lions (Machaton Pride – 1 x Timbavati male, 3 x lionesses, 9 x cubs on a buffalo kill) – Tanda Tula, Bush Breakfast Rd
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Sohebele Dam
2 x elephant bulls – Vielmetter, Dizzy Drive
1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Lucky’s rd

Afternoon Drive
(Chad and Herald)
5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride – 2 x lionesses, 2 x white lions, 1 x tawny male on a zebra kill) – Jaydee, Den Rd
1 x leopard (Khlakisa female) – Java, Terminalia Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Karans, Western Cutline
1 x buffalo bull – Peru, Wild West North
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Trough Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
1 x elephant cow – Motswari, Airstrip
4 x elephant bulls – Peru, Voel Dam
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp

Daily Synopsis
It was going to take a lot to better yesterday’s performance, so I didn’t even attempt to!  Instead, I just went out there to see what the Timbavati had to offer, and once more, it didn’t disappoint!
I was out on my own again for the morning drive, and planned to head south to go and see the Machaton Pride that had been around for the previous few days with a buffalo kill down on Tanda Tula.  That eased my worries about finding lions, but what wasn’t eased was my concerns over the weather.  The Weather Man had said it would rain, but he usually sucks.  Today, I wasn’t so sure he would be wrong as a layer of clouds covered the sky and a light mist enveloped the bush – it did make for a nice scenic atmosphere.

Misty Morning over Motswari, Timbavati
Coming up with little to speak of north of camp and at Argyle Dam, I headed to Sohebele Dam where we found a small breeding herd of buffalo at the water.

Buffalo herd at Sohebele Dam and baby bufalos doing what they shouldnt be doing!
Leaving the buffalo, we carried on south, and the slightly warmer weather didn’t do much to increase the animals’ activity in the early morning, and we didn’t see a great deal until we got to Vielmetter.  There we found plenty of impalas and guineafowl, and two separate sightings of elephant bulls.

Two seperate elephant bulls down south
After a cup of coffee, I continued south towards the lions, hearing that Rockfig Jnr had been very close to the buffalo kill, but sadly she moved into a tricky area and I decided to skip on her.  There was not an awful lot of activity on the way to the lions, and admittedly there wasn’t the most activity with the lions....but you couldn’t blame them – their bellies were the size of houses!  But man, what a sight to find 13 lions sprawled out in the Nhlaralumi Rivebed!

Machaton Pride resting in the Nhlaralumi Riverbed
The cubs were well fed, particularly the older ones that looked like bellies with legs!  The mothers were content to rest and groom from time to time, and the mother of the small cubs even allowed them to suckle for a while before rolling over.

Machaton Pride and cubs drinking milk and grooming
Clearly not satisfied with milk, the five cubs then wandered over to the buffalo kill and resumed feeding on the little that was left there.  Their father was surprisingly tolerant of them, and soon fell asleep again.

Timbavati male and Machaton cubs on the buffalo kill
One of the small cubs then found  the buffalos ear and began playing with that, which caught the attention of the others that also tried to play with it, resulting in the usual fighting and games of chase.

Playful cubs
For fat sleepy lions, they gave us a good show, and we made the long trip back home very content!  Although we didn’t see too much, that was also forgotten about when we neared the lodge and found Kuhanya leopardess ambling down the road!  She soon moved off east into the mopane thickets of De Luca, and we followed as long as we could before she got swallowed up by the thicket and we returned to the lodge for breakfast.

Kuhanya wandering into De Luca
The Weather Man was half right in his predictions that it would rain between 10am and 3pm; imagine that!  Although it wasn’t the 20mm he promised, we still got about 5mm of rain during the day and evening – 4mm of which came in a 30-seocond downpour!
Fortunately only a bit of rain fell before lunch, leaving a beautiful rainbow in the sky, while some male nyalas and impalas fed in the riverbed in front of the lodge.

Nyala, impala and a rainbow at the lodge
The afternoon drive saw Herald joining me.  His new guests had seen two rhinos on the main road driving in, on our side of the road, so while I headed over to try find them, Herald could concentrate on finding other animals...and that he did.  His afternoon saw he find a small herd of buffalos, but they all ran off when a massive thunder clap sounded nearby.  He then also found a leopard, Khlakisa female, but as usual she wasn’t all that relaxed in the day and moved off.  He also saw a herd of elephants, and then went to go and see the White Lions that had been found in the morning, still on our property. 
During the middle of the day they managed to catch a baby zebra and had fed on most of it, so were resting well when Herald saw them, although the young male was still feeding. 

White lions on their zebra kill - Photso courtesy of Grant who spent the afternoon with the film crew
Having had a great sighting of the white lions last night, and good lions this morning, I decided to pass on them, and just enjoyed a leisurely drive in the north, that included an unsuccessful search for some rhinos.

Grey Heron and a stormy afternoon
Despite this, I actually had a good afternoon and ended up seeing 15 different species of mammals (my target for the guests was to show them 28 different species in their 4 nights).  Nyala, impala, warthogs, vervet monkey, tree squirrels and hippo were added before Argyle Dam, and a new one for us was found in the form of waterbuck (amazingly I did 4 drives with no waterbuck!!!).  Maybe it was the rain that brought them out?
Waterbuck at Argyle Dam
Whatever it was, we carried on and found more waterbuck, impalas, zebras, hordes and hordes of guineafowl, a mother and baby giraffe, a female elephant and some lovely birds.

Zebra, waterbuck and giraffe
At Voel Dam, we found four male elephants that came for a drink.

Elephant bulls drinking at Voel Dam
We checked the west for any sign of those rhino, but found none.  Coming back on the tar road towards Voel Dam for drinks, we found a beautiful side striped jackal, and one of the most relaxed jackals I have seen in many years – and also probably one of my best sightings of a jackal since I joined Motswari!

Side Striped Jackal
After drinks we headed back to the lodge, finding a small-spotted genet in a tree – he had us laughing after he almost fell out the tree while having a scratch!

Small Spotted Genet
We also had a very inquisitive hyena and a breeding herd of elephants near the camp before we closed down for dinner at the lodge, as well as some good spotting by Petros to find a chameleon sleeping in a thick bush.

Hyena and a chameleon
So while we may not have had the excitement of the day before, we still had a wonderful day’s worth of game viewing, and once more left us all extremely keen to get out there again tomorrow to see what the bush has to offer!


  1. Excellent!!! Marvelous photos, especially of the other smaller animals...the lions are just so contended with their cubs...and I could feel the spirit of Africa today...Thank you!!!
    What happened with Nthombi female, is she still alive?!!

  2. Awesome pics today Chad! Especially love the jackal :-)

  3. What a lovely drive, didn't even know there was an animal called a Gennet, so thanks. Your landscape pics are 'to die for', so much to see with the pleasure of a heater as my companion.

  4. Chad, such clear as a bell photographs and I'm spontaneously grinning as I view them - absolutely lovely as always. Thank you so much

  5. Stunning photos as always Chad.
    Love the side striped Jackal, I've only seen one once before crossing the road while it was still dark, so this is a great sighting.


  6. thanks for all the comments and for reading this blog! really fantastic to get such wonderful feedback!

    @hett - nthombi is doing well - hvent seen her for a while, but she has just about raised her first cub, a young male, to adulthood - not bad for a first time mom!

    thanks again!



  7. amazing shots and sightings specialy with d pack of lions..we were once soo lucky to find a pack of nine females walking inbetween d cars and then walking off together on the road in d was an amazing feeling..priceless moment i will never forget.

  8. Wonderful Chad! The waterbucks in the beautiful light and the genet. Thanks again for sharing.