Saturday, 9 July 2011

07th July – North Comes Alive!

Photo of the Day
Vyeboom Dam male leopard
Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant, Marka and Colbert)
1 x leopard (Argyle Male with impala kill) – Argyle, Argyle Airstrip
1 x lion (Sohebele male) – Mbali, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Mbali, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Voel Dam
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Karans, Karan’s Airstrip
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Wisani Access
1 x buffalo bull – Karans, Kudu Pan Clearing
1 x breeding herd of elephants – De Luca –Umbabat Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Great North
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Boolala Rd
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Giraffe Pan
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Camp
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Southern Access

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Godfrey, Marka and Colbert)
2 x leopards (Argyle male and Vyeboom Dam male with impala kill) – Argyle, Argyle Airstrip
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Java Dam Access
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Scholtz, Kudu Pan Rd South
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Wedge River Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Xinzele Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Argyle, Vyeboom Dam
3 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Skatie’s Pad
2 x elephant bulls – Kings, Mafikizolo Rd
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Piva Plains
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Camp

Daily Synopsis
Thursday started as yet another cold and windy day, but as seems to be the emerging pattern, it warmed into a very pleasant and windless afternoon.
I decided to check the eastern sections this morning, and headed to the Kruger Boundary, hoping to find signs of the Sohebele boys coming back into the area.  We found a small breeding herd of elephants feeding in the mopane thickets east of Sean’s Clearing, but we didn’t pursue them.
The usual impalas were dotted around, but for some reason, there were no signs of our eastern zebra herds that appear to have disappeared.

Impalas along the Kruger Boundary Rd
A bit further into the drive, we found a lone buffalo bull on Kudu Pan Clearing, and while watching him, heard the sounds of a buffalo herd feeding nearby and it didn’t take long to find them on Karan’s airstrip.

Lone buffalo bull and a breeding herd of buffalo
I continued to check Scholtz, so ambled along the Sohebele Riverbed to see if I could get lucky with some rhinos.  We did find some tracks and active middens, but in general, there was little game about – despite that, I just enjoyed driving in this seldom traversed area.
After a cup of coffee, Johannes told me that he had managed to find one of Sohebele male lions trailing a herd of buffalos from Scholtz into Karans, and while he was lost, I still moved into the area to follow up.  As I was approaching where the herd of buffalo were resting, I found some nice tracks for the Mafikizolo Pride, and while checking around, found tracks for a lone male lion and heard squirrels alarm calling close by, so assumed he was really close.  While off tracking him, Johannes managed to relocate the lone Sohebele male about 50m from the edge of the buffalo herd.
Sohebele male lion watching some nearby buffalo
He was lying there just watching the herd, quite intently, but on his own, and with only large buffalo bulls in sight, he seemed reluctant to make a move. 

While at first we assumed that he was “lost” brother, after checking my photos I could confirm that it was one of the males that we saw last week (confirming my field suspicions).

Sohebele boy - but not the lost brother we were hoping for...
Besides those sightings, there was one other buffalo herd drinking at Voel Dam while Grant had his coffee, Argyle male leopard was found with an impala kill in a tree near Vyeboom Dam, and two other large breeding herds of elephants were found.
Afternoon drive time arrived, the wind had gone and the sun was warming us up nicely.  I had new guests, and decided to just take it easy in the north, and it was a good decision!
During the course of the afternoon, we saw no fewer than 13 different species of mammal, and pleasingly, it included not only good “big game”, but also a lot of general game sightings.
Impala, giraffe, several groups of waterbuck and kudu, a relaxed steenbuck, and squirrels filled our afternoon as we slowly made our way towards a breeding herd of elephants near Madash Dam.  We spent a bit of time with the herd, but not a fantastic sighting as they were in a bit of a thick area.

Giraffe, elephant herd, waterbuck, kudu and hippos
As the afternoon light started to glow golden, we headed over to where Argyle male leopard had his impala well as some other spotted company.  We saw another group of elephant bulls on the way, a breeding herd of elephants disappearing into the thickets east of Vyeboom Dam, as well as some hippos at Vyeboom Dam wall.
Arriving at the Argyle male leopard sighting, we found him lying in the tree with his kill...
Argyle male leopard in a tree with his impala kill
A lone spotted hyena waiting for scraps below the tree (although as the leopard wasn't feeding, she was needing to exercise some patience)...

Spotted hyena waiting below the leopard's kill
And about 40m away, there were more spots – this time in the form of another leopard!  Yip, not for the first time, Vyeboom Dam male had arrived at a kill of his father’s hoping for a meal!  Although, we cannot be sure that the kill was not his to begin with and it was merely stolen by the large Argyle male!
Vyeboom Dam male leopard resting near to Argyle male leopard
We pulled ourselves away from the leopards and went towards Klipdrift Crossing for a drink.  In that area, another large male leopard had just killed a civet and a female (possibly Mbali) was found calling in the area – leopard central it seems!  As we had already seen some good leopards, we passed and went to enjoy a sundowner instead.

Godfrey with Argyle male in a tree and Vyeboom Dam male on the ground nearby
After dark, we saw two sightings of lesser bushbabies (good sightings of some relaxed individuals showcasing their amazing jumping abilities!), and then went to see if the Sohebele male could be found following behind the buffalo herd near Java Dam.  We found the buffalo, but they all looked far too relaxed to indicate that there was a young male lion causing havoc!  After that we headed back to the lodge for a fabulous dinner in the boma around a large open fire to keep us warm, while we all pondered what tomorrow would bring!


  1. Great sightings of the leopard males Chad. As well as the Male lion... What is going on with these males? Why are these 2 brothers split up now?

    Ai, so many questions...


  2. Would like to book a photgraphic workshop with you... I also want to take pictures like you do!