Wednesday, 13 July 2011

12th July – White Lions and Cheetah – Not a bad Birthday Present!

Photo of the Day

The White Lions Return...again!
Morning Drive
(Chad, Godfrey, Grant, and Colbert)
1 x cheetah (relaxed female) – Karans, Mananga Cutline
5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride – 2 lionesses, 1 young male and 2 white lionesses) – Argyle, Buffalo Pan Access
1 x leopard (unknown skittish female) – Peru, Lily Pan
4 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Mfene Crossing
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Western Cutline

Daily Synopsis
I’m not big into birthdays and birthday presents, and being in the bush away from my family is not always my dream way of spending my birthday...but maybe now that I am old and wise (all 28 years old), I might begin to realise that I really should expect the unexpected!  And it was the unexpected out there today that made for a very memorable and enjoyable birthday!
The day started out weird; the weather and light was quiet strange and between bouts of spitting drizzle, a greeny-yellow glow of light blanketed the bush while rainbows and dark clouds contrasted one another in the skies above.  Hearing that one of our resident female leopards, Shongile, had been wandering around the camp shortly before midnight, my intention was to go out and have a quick look for her.  Leaving camp, it didn’t take long to find our first animals, and they came in the form of two hyenas at Trade Entrance Pan.

Rainbow and hyena
Leaving them and hearing that that Shongile’s tracks were heading for Ingwelala, I didn’t go follow up, instead I wanted to go check further south, as my guests hadn’t seen the beautiful property of Vielmetter during their last few days.  The fact that the Mafikizolo Pride’s tracks were there spurred on my decision to head south.
Along Western Cutline, we found a nice breeding herd of elephants feeding in the mopanes next to the road.
Elephant herd
There were then some fresh rhino tracks near Java Dam that Grant was keen on tracking, so I dropped my tracker off with Jacky to follow up and continued south towards Vielmetter, seeing a few steenbuck, impala and zebra along the way.
It was shortly after driving past Hide Dam that Marka excitedly called in a cheetah that had just crossed Western Cutline, right where I had just driven!  I turned around and raced over there immediately to go and join Marka, and smiled at the beauty of this relaxed young female as she walked through some rather atypical cheetah-country!
female cheetah!!!
Sadly though, I realised just how close she was to our boundary, and after literally only three or four minutes with her, I thought that I had better make space so that the other guides might at least get a short sighting of her.  Really not the way I like to operate, but just unfortunate where she was heading.

Cheetah heading off our property to the south
Unfortunately for Grant, not all of the other guides moved through as quickly and after being static for a while, she crossed over the cutline and into Mananga, and all Grant got to see was her tail disappearing into the bush.
His disappointment was short lived.
While he was still on stand-by, and while I was going to try drive about on Vielmetter again, I got a radio call from Andries from Leadwood.  He calmly asked me if I was far away.  I knew he had something, and was almost sure it was leopard, and not even knowing where he was, I regrettably answered that I was indeed far away.  After he told me what he had found, I corrected myself and told him that I would never so far away that I wouldn’t be able to respond to what he had found!
I had an almost uncontrollable smile on my face, probably more of disbelief that anything else, and turned my vehicle in Andries’s direction.  I went to pick up the trackers that were still tracking the rhino, but were running out of time.  When I told them what we were going to see, they couldn’t believe it either.
About half an hour after the original radio call, I arrived to see some old friends; yip, the White Lions were back home!  They have been gone for little over a month, but there has been no sign of them at all for the last couple for weeks, and the last tracks were near the Olifants River, miles and miles away.  When they return, we usually have some idea to expect them, as the film crew will inform us, but as they didn’t know there location, it really came as an amazingly pleasant surprise to hear of their return without expecting it!

White lioness
They were all looking in great shape, and showed none of the nervousness that they did after their previous absence.  The good news is that the young male is back with the pride – he had temporarily been kicked out of the pride a couple of weeks back when the pride had been found in the company of an unidentified male that was mating with the adult lionesses that were now predictably coming back into estrus.  The wonderful part of this finding was that this new male didn’t chase off the white lions, and if he is to become a pride male, he will most likely be happy enough to keep with white lionesses in the pride – not good for the young boy, but it is a part of being a young male lion, which is never easy!
Anyway, he was with them, and they spent the morning sleeping in a thicket...some things never change!
Heading back to the lodge for a special breakfast, it was wonderful to have been able to show my guests these amazing cats. Especially as Hamish had asked to see them on the very first afternoon!
I have finished off with driving for the next few days, so I will let Grant keep you informed for the next few days!
Happy virtual game viewing!


  1. Great stuff Chad and I am glad you had a great birthday in the bush!!!

    I am sooo glad they are back, let's hope they stay a while.


  2. happy birthday Chad, what a wonderful birthday gift

  3. Happy birthday Chad. Would love a birthday present like such a day in the bush. Looking forward to your book. Succes!!