Tuesday, 9 August 2011

07th August – When Things Work Out!

Photo of the Day
Rockfig Jnr watching a vulture at her kill
Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant, Petros, Godfrey and Herold)
11 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 lionesses and 8 cubs with buffalo kill) – Tanda Tula, Sunset Rd
1 x leopard (Rockfig Jnr female with impala kill) – Kings, Ridge Rd
2 x rhino (2 males)
2 x rhino (1 male and 1 female)
1 x rhino (1 male)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Karans, Southern Access
6 x buffalo bulls – Jaydee, Jaydee Access
1 x elephant bull – Kings, Argyle Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Godfrey and Herold)
5 x lions (Xakubasa Pride – 2 lionesses, 2 white lionesses and 1 young male) – Argyle, Buffalo Pan Access
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female with impala kill) – De Luca, Drongo Drive

Daily Synopsis
This morning was probably one of the worst weather mornings in a long time- the day started off cloudy, and thus a bit warmer than usual, but it went down from there, and got colder and windier as the morning went on!  I usually use conditions like these for an excuse as to why we don’t see many animals.  Guess they blew that theory out of the water this morning, as, even with my guests only doing one drive with me, they managed to see the Big 5 and much more!
The drive saw me heading straight south, hoping to get to see the Machaton Pride on their buffalo kill down on Tanda Tula.  We started off with some impala, a few steenbucks and a duiker, but didn’t see much else until we got down to Java.
Impala Lily - a splash of colour on a dull morning
The reason we were driving through Java was that a detour was need to go and see some rhinos that had been found in the west, along with buffalo and elephant all in the same sighting!  I slowly made my way that side and we came across a herd of giraffes.

Giraffe herd

After that, we saw more impala and a nice herd of female nyala before later arriving at the rhinos that had now parted company with the other two large herbivore species.  We joined the other station with the rhinos and got to view them as the two males casually fed about in the coolness of the morning.

Two white rhinos
Leaving them, we went to relocate the small bachelor herd of buffalo bulls that were not far away, and we got to see them too as they fed in a thicket area. 

Buffalo bulls
Sadly time was running away from us, and we still had some distance to travel, so we hit Argyle Rd and went the few kilometres further south, seeing a lone elephant bull, kudu and well as a large herd of giraffes on the road.
We eventually arrived at the lion sighting, and most of them were lying around next to the carcass that was little more than bones with pieces of dried meat still clinging to the bones. 

Machaton Pride still on their buffalo kill
One mother lay a bit further away and was busy grooming her one cub; judging by his growls, it was not as pleasurable for him as I was for her!  Sad news is that one of the young cubs is almost certainly dead, and was last seen alone in the vicinity of where the pride had killed a warthog in a termite mound.  Later the Machatons moved off, and the Mafikizolo Pride pitched up and at the same time the lone cub was seen lying under a bush nearby.  The guides left the area, and while the lioness returned there a few days later, she was unable to find the cub.  Chances are, it didn’t survive.

Cleaning time
We eventually left the lions with a few skulking hyenas and jackals running past in the distance and started heading home.  However, there was still one animal missing from our “Big 5”, but fortunately, the King’s stations had found Rockfig Jnr with an impala kill the day before, and as we were nearby, they kindly invited us to go and see her, so I took liberty of this and went to view her resting at the base of a massive marula tree with her impala kill still on the ground.

Rockfig Jnr resting near her impala kill
She did awake when a hooded vulture arrived and landed in the tree; Rockfig Jnr jumped up and gave the vulture and evil stare, but despite looking like she wanted to jump up the tree and chase it off, she refrained and went back to sleep.

Rockfig Jnr watching a vulture
On the route home, we were already a bit late and had to pass on a cup of coffee that would have been most welcome, but after passing a breeding herd of buffalo, we arrived back at camp for a most welcome, warm and delicious breakfast!
My afternoon drive was a much more relaxed affair, but it still had a surprise in store for us.
Grant had found tracks for lions in the north late in the morning, and went to follow up on them in the afternoon.  I took my new guests to see Kuhanya leopardess who had eventually taken her kill into the tree, but herself was just sleeping in the open nearby.
Kuhanya female leopard near her kill
After some nice time with her, we left her in peace and bumbled about in the north, not seeing a great deal besides hippos, impala, dwarf mongooses and steenbuck.
Grant and the trackers got lucky and found the lions, and as Grant had suspected, it was the Xakubasa Pride – the White Lions had once more come back to pay us a visit.
I slowly headed into that area and went to join Grant.  It was quite ironic that they were lying in the very same mopane thicket that we had found them in almost a month ago when they returned on the 12th July!  Unfortunately, though, being the white lions, they did very little and lay in the thicket and long grass and didn’t even move while we were watching them.

White lions return, but barely lift their heads!
As they drew a lot of interest, we soon left them and headed to Klipdrift Crossing for a drink.  After dark, we headed straight back to camp to call an end to an enjoyable day.
Let’s hope that tomorrow works out as well!


  1. What an awesome day!! Beautifull pictures from Rockfig jnr. staring to the vulture. Thanks a lot!

  2. Reading the blog brings a big smile to my face! Was so awesome to be part of it!

    Hope the White Lions are more active so you can get some grea photos of them!