Saturday, 22 October 2011

18th October – Sohebele Males Kill a Buffalo!

Photo of the Day
Life's a Yawn - Kuhanya on Argyle Dam wall
Morning Drive
(Shadrack, Marka, Grant and Chad)
3 x lions (Sohebele males) – Karans, Ingwe Drive
1 x cheetah – Borneo, KNP Cutline (Sharalumi Guests)
2 x rhino
2 x rhino
3 x rhino (Sharalumi Guests)
1 x rhino (Sharalumi Guests)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Karans, Ingwe Drive
16 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Jack’s Camp
4 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Mopane Lane
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Mahlolwa Clearing

Afternoon Drive
(Shadrack, Marka, Grant and Chad)
3 x lions (Sohebele males with buffalo calf kill) – Peru, Broken Dam
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Argyle, Argyle Dam
1 x leopard (Machaton male with impala kill) – Peru, No Name Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Sohebele Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Oppikoppie Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Tamboti Link
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd

Daily Synopsis
Greetings again, and once more, apologies for the delay – part me, part slow internet, big part just some amazing game viewing that last few days, and processing and uploading all the photos has taken forever, but it is well worth the wait I hope!
On another gloomy morning, I headed south, hoping to get to Thumbela and all of her kills, but on route, I was informed that lions had been heard roaring in the central sections, so checked around Mbali but found nothing of note.  In the driving around, we did see some zebras, impala, steenbuck and some nice kudus, but not what we were after.
Some elephants were called in not too far from us, so I made my way there and spent some time watching them as they fed near the Land Rover.

Elephant herd
I will be honest, it was a bit difficult to concentrate on the sighting as there was so much going on elsewhere in the reserve – there were fresh tracks for a herd of rhinos going straight through the elephant sighting, which Grant eventually found; tracks for lions coming in from the west; Shadrack found some skittish rhinos, then tracks for buffalo with lion tracks on top of them, then he found the buffalo herd, then he found the lions; Johannes found two different groups of rhinos that both moved back into the Kruger Park, before he found a cheetah that actually ran deeper into our property!  Not having seen cheetah for a while, and knowing that my guests were keen to see cheetah, I was about to take the chance to head there – it was a gamble, but worth it I though.
While driving away, Grant informed me that the impalas were going ballistic to the east of the elephants – I switched off and heard them alarm-calling like crazy, and once I got a fix on the direction, raced over to find the lion or leopard that was causing such concern.  We found the impalas, but no predator; that was when we heard the almost unmistakable bleat of death coming from behind us.  I swung the vehicle around and soon found the unfortunate impala that had just breathed its last breathe, but sadly, it was clearly killed by a skittish leopard that had already run off, and not wanting to disturb the animal too much, we left for a cup of coffee nearby.  The coffee coming only as the cheetah had sadly been lost as it ran off after something.
Freshly killed impala - no luck with the leopard though
After coffee, I tried the impala kill one more time, but while the leopard had been back and dragged it under another tree, it was nowhere to be found, so we left the area and went to check on the hyena den, but as seemed to be the story of my morning, we found nothing.
I then decided to go and see the lions that Shadrack had found earlier – it was the three Sohebele brothers that were still trailing the herd.  They had gone to sleep near a private camp that made viewing them difficult as we were unable to drive off-road.  As I was making my way closer, things seemed to get worse as the lions moved down into the riverbed, but fortunately for me, they simply crossed over and onto a road that I could follow behind them on.

Three Sohebele brothers growing into real lions and following a buffalo herd
They had a quick drink at the camp dam before heading straight for the buffalo herd that had now moved about 1km away.  After some time, we could hear the buffalo, and soon the lions were within 80m of the herd that fed unaware of their presence.

The lions lay on one side of the riverbed watching the buffalo on the opposite bank, but the herd slowly fed away from them. 

Lions watching the nearby buffalo
The lions crossed the river and waited a lot closer to the buffalos now, but it all appeared too much for the lions, and they eventually lay down and closed their eyes – it appeared that their interest was waning, and our hunger was growing!  While I would have loved to have stayed with them, it was late, and we chose to leave them in was thus mightily frustrating to have found them in the afternoon with a buffalo kill not 300m from where we left them!  We did see more zebras and another breeding herd of buffalo near the lodge before closing down for breakfast.

Sohebele brothers pursuing the buffalo before going to rest
In the afternoon, I had some new guests, photographers that were at Motswari to photograph leopards, and of course, the white lions that were nowhere to be seen – the fact that they had seen 12 leopards at the previous reserve was mildly intimidating!
My plan was to go and follow up on the rhinos in the west in the afternoon, so made my way towards Vyeboom Dam, ticking off impala, kudu, waterbuck, warthogs and some very distant hippos at the dam when like a magnet, I was drawn back to the east – not only did Shadrack bump into the lions drinking at Sohebele Dam, fat-bellied and covered in blood, but Johannes and his magic frog had found Kuhanya near Argyle Dam.  The rhinos could wait.

Waterbuck and impala
I went towards Kuhanya as she jumped up onto Argyle Dam wall, and I knew that wasn't good, especially as she soon jumped off and down into the rocky area below!  I sat for a while without seeing her, and my frustrations grew, but as I was pulling out of the area, Shadrack got a visual of her in the reeds below the dam, and she was heading back to the dam wall.

Kuhanya below Argyle Dam
I waited on the dam wall, and after ambling across the rocks, ran up the ear vertical dam wall and paraded across it like she was on a catwalk!

Kuhanya on Argyle Dam wall parading like a supermodel!
She found a shady spot and went to rest, so I had to try my best to get into a position to view and photograph her – it wasn't easy, and we ended up spending time watching the birds and hippo at Argyle Dam instead.

Kuhanya resting, African jacarna and a hippo at Argyle Dam
After chilling on the wall for a while, Kuhanya did eventually move and come lie in a better position for a while.

Then the shade created by Marka’s car was too appealing, and she went and lay there for a while before walking right past Marka and sat on the earth-part of the dam wall.

Kuhanya next to Marka
She strolled past us, as if we weren’t there, before I had to make space for some of the other guides, chuffed that Motswari’s own supermodel leopard had put on a great show for us!

I then headed towards Sohebele Plains, where the buffalo herd was still milling about on the clearing in the last light of day.  We could see Grant watching the lions in the near distance, and there were still buffalos trying to go chase them off their buffalo calf kill, but it was way too late!

Buffalo herd near Sohebele males with Grant in the background
I went around the riverbed, and watched the lions from the opposite bank, as they had dragged the kill into an awkward position that wasn't great for photographs, but it did tell the story as one buffalo bull approached closer under scrutiny from the lions.

Sohebele male lions feeding on a buffalo while the herd mills about in the area
We eventually left the lions to feed in peace, as did all the buffalo, and we went to finish off the day with a drink!

End of another tough day in Africa!
After dark, Grant went to check on Machaton male leopard, but found only the hyena resting under the tree.  I went and check Mvubu Crossing to see if he had been for a drink, but found nothing – the reason was that he was already back in the tree feeding!
He sadly jumped down when a second vehicle approached, but I waited it out, and within a couple of minutes, he climbed back up the tree, right in front of us, as if we weren’t even there!

Machaton male climbing back up the tree
He continued to feed and it was once again so wonderful to see him looking so comfortable with us in his presence!

Machaton male feeding
I headed back to camp after a great first drive for my new guests, and after ticking off a small scops owl, closed down after another really fantastic day of game viewing at Motswari


  1. Well worth the wait, you guys sure had a busy time! Great photos of Machaton male feeding and your supermodel. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Excellent pictures..... eagerly waiting for our visit. We will be there on 9th nov 2011.
    Best wishes

  3. Stunning Stunning pics of Kuhanya!!!
    Pity you missed out on the lions kill Chad!
    It sure was worth the wait, awesome pictures bud...