Thursday, 25 August 2011

23rd August – Mafikizolo’s Getting Better By the Day

Photo of the Day
Umfana male showing his displeasure
Morning Drive
(Chad and Herold)
8 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride with buffalo kill) – Scholtz, Scholtz Access
1 x leopard (Umfana male with steenbuck kill) – Vielmetter, Jiga-Jiga Rd
1 x buffalo bulls – Scholtz, Scholtz Access
3 x elephant bulls – Motsawari, Xinatsi Dam Rd West
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Argyle Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Scholtz, Mananga Cutline

Afternoon Drive
(Chad and Herold)
8 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride with buffalo kill) – Scholtz, Scholtz Access
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
1 x buffalo bull – Karans, Mananga Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Mcau Rd
1 x elephant bull – Karans, Western Cutline

Daily Synopsis
Having enjoyed a nice afternoon yesterday, I was keen to get out there and follow up on some of the sightings that I didn’t get to yesterday afternoon...and find a rhino.
Sadly though, things didn’t quite go as planned as most of the animals we wanted to track had crossed off of our traversing area, but we ended up having an enjoyable morning none the less! 
The drive started off with a glorious sunrise and some dark clouds made the backdrop to a herd of giraffes we found a minute from the camp.

Giraffe on our soccer field
There was also a good number of impala herds out as we headed past Sohebele Dam and saw some hippos and steenbuck.

Impala and hornbill
I went south to follow up on a large breeding herd of buffalo, but they moved east from Hide Dam and off into Mananga.  We didn’t see a great deal else down south, and only ticked off many more impalas and a herd of kudus before making our way to the main motivation for the trip down south: leopard.


Nthombi’s boy, Umfana male, had a steenbuck kill, but while he had managed to put it safely up a tree, he was wandering around some 300m from the kill, but in an awful area for us to follow him.  He was also in a bit of a mood and was snarling and even mock charged us.

As a result we gave him space, and didn’t get as close to him as we normally could, but still enjoyed a nice sighting of him before he moved off once more into a thicket that I wasn't going to follow him into, as he clearly didn’t want company.

Umfana male
While with him, Colbert found a cheetah close to Java Camp, but sadly it was skittish and ran off before anyone else could see it.  We stopped for coffee before making our way into the area to see if we could have more luck.
Between Makulu Dam and Java Airstrip, we had nice sightings of impala, waterbuck, steenbucks, duikers, warthogs, giraffes and then a good sighting of a herd of zebras and herd of wildebeest on the airstrip.

Zebra, wildebeest and giraffe
A bit further along was a lone black-backed jackal, but sadly no cheetahs.  Herold found the Mafikizolo Pride still on their buffalo kill, but later in the morning they got chased off by a herd of buffalo!

Black-backed jackal
We headed home for breakfast and a nice bush walk near Argyle Dam.  We saw several elephant bulls on the way there, and on walk ticked off impala, giraffe, warthogs, bushbuck and waterbuck.
I received new guests in the afternoon, and while I don’t normally drive in the east on the guest’s first drive, I was getting desperate for rhino, and as the western rhinos were not playing along, I thought I would take a chance.  it didn’t quite work out, and we had a very quiet first half of the afternoon.  We did see steenbuck, impala, a herd of zebras that didn’t quite play along, and a warthog dashing through the bush.  No rhino.  No elephants.
In desperation, I returned early to the Mafikizolo lions and their buffalo kill, but as expected, they were fast asleep – although we did see some nice vultures and a black-backed jackal in the area.

Mafikizolo male, hooded and white-backed vultures
Hearing that my other two guests had arrived late, and were doing a link-up, I left the lions to go and meet Dave to collect the guests.  We did so and soon found a breeding herd of buffalo heading straight for Hide Dam.  We watched them for a while before jumping ahead to the dam.

Buffalo herd at dusk
We set up our drinks, and within minutes, the front of the herd came stampeding towards the water, and the stream of buffalo hadn’t finished by the time we had –at least 400-odd buffalo in such a herd!

Buffalo herd running to Hide Dam
It was a fantastic experience, and we stood next to the vehicle enjoying a drink as the hundreds of buffalo drank and watched us from no more than 25m away!  The light was all but gone, but we still enjoyed the experience immensely – welcome to Africa J

Drinks at Hide Dam
With the new guests aboard, we could return to the lions, and en route found a side-striped jackal before pulling into the lion sighting.  All the pride members were around the carcass and feeding, and the sights and sounds were great!  The whole afternoon, it was really encouraging to see how much more relaxed they were, and we got to 15m from the male without him fussing about us! 

Mafikizolo Pride on their kill
On the road home, we did see two large porcupines near to the camp, and it rounded off another enjoyable day, but still left me needing rhino tomorrow...oh dear!


  1. As always, your photos are superb, Chad. Checking out your new pics has become a standard procedure with me almost every morning! Thanks for letting us have our share of your "hard work" :-)
    Best regards and greetings from Austria, Peter! (Photoza)

  2. Thats looked like quite a packed game drive Chad. Wonderful photos as always! The Umfana male is a superb looking cat. Keep up the good work, I always look forward to your updates.

  3. Thomas Schneider26 August 2011 at 00:29

    Always great to see such nice pictures. thanks chad. the big cats are really amazing and so are the shots of them. reminds me of my time in South Africa this year when we spotted those magnificant animals.

  4. It was a wonderful day again. The Umfana male was a great sight first thing and his temper meant some great shots. The herd at the Dam in the evening was a wonderful moment as was spending time with the lion and the buffalo kill again. Chad only had one more drive to find me and Louise the Rhino that I especially wanted to see. How did he get on......