Saturday, 25 June 2011

25th June – Mbali Relishes Reptiles!

Photo of the Day
Probably makes it look like a bad day!  But i kind of like this shot :)
Morning Drive
(Chad, Marka and Herald)
2 x breeding herds of elephant – Peru, Giraffe Kill Lookout
7 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Bush Braai
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Wisani Crossing
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Sharalumi Access
2 x rhino (female and calf)

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Marka and Herald)
1 x leopard (Argyle Jnr’s male cub with steenbok kill) – Motswari, Giraffe Pan
1 x leopard (Mbali female with water monitor kill) – Peru, Concrete Crossing
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Argyle, Vyeboom Dam Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Rudy’s Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Umbabat Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Mongova Rd
5 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Trough
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Hanger Rd

Daily Synopsis
After a slow start back yesterday, I was hoping that sightings would pick up quickly this morning...yet after waking up and walking out of my room, I was hoping that the mercury would pick up even quicker, because today was the first real winters day of the year!  And wow, it was nippy out there!  With the mercury dropping to 5 degrees, and easily around zero with the wind chill factor, we had a very cold start to the morning!
Fortunately though, Herald quickly found some animals with spots!  Sadly not the spots we were hoping for, but we still went to join him with five of the Xinatsi Hyena clan members that were playing about not far from the lodge. 

Xinatsi Clan of hyenas
We spent the first part of the morning with them before locating on a group of several rather large and impressive elephant bulls near Bush Braai.

Big elephant bull
Carrying on, things were not overly productive – impala, hippo and some nice birds were all that showed themselves until we got near the Nhlaralumi Riverbed and found a breeding herd of elephants making their way towards the water below Giraffe Kill Lookout, so again I took my guests and we went and sat on the rocks and watch as the herd of elephants dug in the sand and drank water about 40-50m from us. 

Breeding herd of elephants below Giraffe Kill Lookout
A little later, a smaller second herd of elephants arrived to join them, and in the distance there was a small group of giraffes.

Elephant, giraffe, yellow-billed hornbill, red-billed hornbill, tawny-flanked prinia and little bee-eater
Herald and Marka went a bit further south to see two rhinos that had been located, but it was the slightly nervous female and her calf, and they kept on moving, and didn’t provide the best sighting.  In that area, some other guides had bumped into the Mafikizolo Pride of lions, but none of us went to see them.
I slowly headed back towards camp to check the area where Herald had seen tracks for a female leopard in the morning, but found very little besides some hippos outside of the water at Sohebele Dam.

Hippos at Sohebele Dam
In the afternoon, the group of elephant bulls were found feeding in front of the lodge during lunch, and we headed out again to look for leopards.  Herald, Difference and Marka did a good job on following up on some male leopard tracks just north of the lodge and located on Argyle Jnr’s young male cub and a steenbuck kill of his at Giraffe Pan, but when they approached, he picked up the kill and ran off, not offering a great sighting.

Elephant bulls near the lodge
Sadly, he wasn't to be the only leopard not playing along this afternoon.  I was heading south until I realised that guides from another lodge had found a leopard, so slowly made my way into the area they were operating before they informed us that the visual was actually very poor.  They weren’t lying, and things didn’t get better for Mbali female near Concrete Crossing.
I decided to take my time to go and see her and bumbled around in the north, finding a herd of buffalos near Vyeboom Dam, as well as baboons, hippos and impalas there.

Buffalo, impalas, hippos and Johannes at Vyeboom Dam
Carrying on towards the leopard, we saw some giraffe, more impalas and baboons, spent some time photographing them.

Giraffe, baboons and impalas
During the course of the afternoon, Mbali had momentarily left the thickets on the banks of Peru Dam to jump into the water to catch a large water monitor lizard!  Here second large reptile this week – clearly developing a taste for the scalier things of the bush!
She had taken her prize into a drainage line east of the dam, and while we could see her, it was a poor sighting at best, and offered no opportunity to photograph her.  While watching her, a breeding herd of elephants moved past 100m away.  We stopped to view them before going for a sundowner, and there too were more elephants!

Poor sighting of Mbali and her monitor lizard kill

Breeding herd of elephants
After drinks, we heard that Voel Dam female leopard had been found with a kill west of Buffalo Pan.  It was dark already and she had moved down into a drainage line, and so I decided to rather skip that for tomorrow; although I have my doubts as to the ID of the leopard, and would rather put my money on it being Argyle Jnr female!
Instead I tried to see if I could relocate the young male near the lodge, but it was not to be!  I did see yet more elephants on the way to the lodge, as well as a nice honey badger which even paused for a photo – my first ever of a honey badger!
Honey badger!
That was the day – an improvement on yesterday, but I sincerely hope that tomorrow brings with it some other firsts J


  1. Nice photo of the honey badger Chad...
    Hope for better luck and an open shot of leopards tomorrow...


  2. Absolutely love the Honey badger,one of my favourites

  3. Congrats on the honey badger photo!