Tuesday, 5 July 2011

02nd July – Machaton Feeding Frenzy

Photo of the Day
Machaton Pride on a baby buffalo kill
Morning Drive
(Chad, Godfrey, Colbert, Johannes  and Herald)
8 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 x lionesses and 5 x cubs with a baby buffalo kill) – Kings, Nyati Pools
2 x lions (Sohebele Males) – Karans, KNP Corner
1 x leopard (nervous female, possibly Ximungwe Female) – Argyle Crossing Below Vyeboom Dam
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Karans, Old Closed Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Kings, Cole’s Drive
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Motswari, Sharalumi Pump Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Kings, Little Ridge Rd
1 x elephant bull – Kings, Ridge
1 x elephant bull – Kings, Mamba Rd
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Umbabat Cutline
3 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Airstrip

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Colbert and Herald)
12 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 x lionesses and 9 x cubs) – Kings, Nyati Pools
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Wisani Crossing
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Double Highway
2 x elephant bulls- Motswari, Reception
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Mfene Crossing
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Long Rd
1 x elephant bull – De Luca, Bateleur Rd

Daily Synopsis
Being fed up with the north and the fact that none of the eight leopards that we seen around the lodge were kind enough to show themselves, I decided I needed a change of scenery and headed south.
The morning was a cool one, and covered in clouds which is not all that typical for this time of year.  I did check where the Sohebele males had been, but found no sign of them – that was because they had headed east, and Colbert got to see them right on the Kruger Park Boundary for some time before they crossed off the property – but with a large breeding herd of buffalos nearby, I am sure that they will not be gone for too long – much in the same way that the Mahlathini males couldn’t resist following the buffalo herds!
Carrying on south down Western Cutline, we didn’t see an awful lot, but once on Vielmetter, we took it easy and actually saw some good general game there!  First a nice group of giraffe bulls (to go with the herd of giraffes we saw up on Motswari Airstrip), and that was followed by a group of six large kudu bulls. 

Giraffe and kudus
We saw several more giraffe sightings as we made our way towards Elephant Dam, and as I was in the area, I took up the King’s stations invite to go and see the Machaton Pride on their property.  But on my way there, we came across a wonderful breeding herd of elephants.

Dusting elephant bull
At first one young male arrived at a termite mound near where I was parked and began dusting himself, but soon more and more elephants arrived to join in!

Breeding herd of elephants
The herd was very chilled and almost surrounded us, and this allowed us to take some wonderful up-close-and-personal shots of all of them! 

Elephant art - what great subjects - just look at the textures!
The antics of the younger elephants as they tried to roll in the dust was quite humorous and made for a great sighting!

Entertaining elephants
After the elephants, as well as a few scattered bulls about, we came across a breeding herd of buffalos in the Nhlaralumi Riverbed, but we didn’t spend too much time with them, as it was our time to go in and see the lions, that as it happens, involved one of these buffalo!

Buffalo herd
Not far away, eight of the lions of the Machaton Pride were busy with breakfast!  Yip, earlier in the drive, the southern stations had been with them when they had killed a baby buffalo, and not all of them were busy fighting for each mouthful!

Machaton cub feeding
As will all kills involving lions and small prey, they were very vocal as they fought with one another, and the growls that come out of those cubs are great!

Machaton pride feeding on their buffalo kill
The cubs and three mothers were all covered in blood and looked a sight!  Sadly the light was not fantastic, but we still happily snapped away as teeth and claws were bared for all to see!

feeding frenzy
The pride had the three adult lionesses and four bigger cubs, plus only one smaller cub.  After a while, the mother of the young cubs got up, went for a drink at Nyati Pool and then wandered off to fetch the other cubs, but it was late already, so we left her and headed back to camp.

Lioness drinking then off to fetch her cubs
We saw yet more giraffe, zebra, impalas, baboons, more male kudus and some elephant bulls – so for a cold morning, it turned out great! 
In the north, the guys had the two Sohebele male lions, a large herd of buffalo, a large herd of elephants and Herald also had a sighting of a nervous young female leopard near Vyeboom Dam.
Shortly after breakfast, the monkey’s alarm called, and then the impalas joined in, so again, we knew there was a leopard!  I jumped in the Land Rover and went to check it out, but I must have just missed the leopard, as the tracks I found on the road close to the impala were extremely fresh, but despite looking around, you guessed it, I had no luck!
Afternoon came, and I was determined to break the three-drive leopardless streak, and spent the entire drive checking around the north...but maybe I should learn my lesson!  The other guides headed south and got to see the Machaton lions after they had finished off the kill, as well as some buffalos and elephants.
My drive started off great, with two large elephants 30m into the drive!  Leaving these elephants I carried on to the north-east and found another elephant bull, impalas, but no further signs of Shongile female leopard, or the Sohebele male lions coming back into the property...I couldn’t even find the 200-odd buffalos!

Elephant bulls at camp
I conceded defeat and went for a sundowner at Vyeboom Dam, where it was quite special to sit and just admire the beauty of this part of the reserve, as well as the several hundred guineafowl that were flocking to the area to roost! 

In between this, I saw many more giraffes, several lone elephant bulls, impala, steenbuck and a lesser bushbaby.  It was thus a quiet drive, but my guests still just enjoyed being out there, and like me, they know that tomorrow can bring exactly what they are looking for.....a leopard!

Moon rising over Vyeboom Dam
Be sure to check out yesterday’s blog about the return of the Sohebele males at http://motswariblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/01st-july-big-bellied-sohebele-brothers.html

1 comment:

  1. As allways these photo's are absolutely stunning Chad. Makes one wonder what are we doing in town and why don't we all work in such a beautiful environment. I am truly envious...