Sunday, 28 August 2011

26th August – Lions at Last!!!

Photo of the Day
Timbavati male lion on a giraffe kill
Morning Drive
(Chad and Herold)
12 x lions (Machaton Pride -  1 Timbavati Male, 3 lionesses and 8 cubs on a giraffe kill) – Tanda Tula, Idlamashox Rd
1 x rhino (Nhlangula male)

Afternoon Drive
(Chad and Herold)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Pan Rd
3 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd

Daily Synopsis
So after yesterday’s frustration, I had high hopes that things would turn around today.  While there were lions in the south, I was saving that card for the afternoon, but when I heard that there was not much of the giraffe left, I thought that I had better play it safe and go there in the morning.
I spent the first hour or so of the drive looking for leopard in the north, and while Difference and Johannes were following up on fresh tracks north of camp, they tracked them all the way into Ingwelala.
I saw some nice nyala, impala and giraffe, but then made the trip south, and the sighting didn’t seem all that busy, so I headed straight there.  There were some zebra and kudus on the way, but really not much else.

Arriving at Machaton Dam, I saw two other vehicles standing by, and a third approaching!  I was not prepared to sit in a queue for a sighting, and pulled out of the area.  Cynet from Kings then kindly invited me to come and see a rhino that he had not all that far away, so to kill time, I headed over towards Nyati Pools to see Nhlangula male.  Once more, he was sleeping, but too jumped to his feet once before repositioning and nodding off!

Nhlangula male down in the south
I then moved back east towards the lions, and even got to drive on a road and in an area that I had never driven before, so that was great for me!
Impalas and some new roads for me!
We also got lucky in that one of the Timbavati male lions had moved in to join his pride at the kill, as he had not been present earlier.

Timbavati Male on the giraffe kill
He was the only one active and feeding on the large giraffe carcass, while the other eleven lions all lazed about fat-bellied trying to keep cool on a warm morning. 

Lion on the kill
The cubs moved from time to time, but there was not a lot of activity from them.

Fat and sleepy - Machaton Pride!
More energetic were the hooded vultures that were walking about near the carcass eating the scraps!

Hooded vultures waiting around looking for scraps
We pulled out as it was already late, and we had a long trip home – although to be honest, the fact that the lions had killed this giraffe on one of the few small mopane belts in the south did make it feel like home already!
The afternoon saw us resuming with operation leopard.  We failed.  I almost couldn’t believe how poor our leopard viewing had gotten the last few days, and at the end of the drive, it marked seven drives without a sighting of a leopard.  This was only made more frustrating by the fact that not long before we had arrived back at the camp, Kuhanya leopardess had come wandering through the entrance to reception and  we found her tracks walking all along the pathways in the if to taunt us!
As for the drive...well, the less said the better!  We saw three buffalo bulls, a few giraffe, impala, steenbuck, duiker, warthogs, zebras, wildebeest and waterbuck, but nothing of note.  We spent much of the evening looking for the Mafikizolo pride that Giyani had found on Java in the morning, but despite hearing them roaring, we couldn’t locate them. 
Giraffe on a quiet afternoon (sorry, i was also lazy to take photos of the other animals!)
We had a nice sighting of a hyena, and I am sure the lions were nearby, but luck was no our side today, and I headed back to camp feeling very dejected.  So much so that I only took one photo the whole drive...I really hope that the bush has something special in store for me tomorrow!

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