Saturday, 22 October 2011

19th October – White Lions Encounter Sohebele Males!!!

Photo of the Day
White lions of the Timbavati
Morning Drive
(Shadrack, Marka, Grant and Chad)
3 x lions (Sohebele males) – Peru, Broken Dam
3 x lions (Xakubasa White Lions) – Peru, Broken Dam
1 x leopard (Thumbela female with FOUR kills) – Kings, Ridge Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Motswari, Southern Access
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Motswari, Airstrip
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Back of Java
10 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Airstrip
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Back Nines

Afternoon Drive
(Marka, Grant and Chad)
3 x lions (Sohebele males) – Peru, Broken Dam
3 x lions (Xakubasa White Lions) – Peru, Long Rd
1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Peru, Nkombi Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Motswari, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Nkombi Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Sohebele Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Wilkin’s Way
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Long Rd
1 x elephant bull – Piva Plains

Daily Synopsis

Today was another cool and partly cloudy day that threatened to rain, but never did – we only received 2.5mm.  It turned out to be yet another fantastic day of game viewing at Motswari, with a wonderful surprise for us early in the morning!

Kudu and waterbuck
There were tracks for a herd of buffalo heading towards Xinatsi Dam, but they were from last night, so I went to check Argyle Dam, but found nothing more for the buffalo, meaning that they were likely to still be in the block, but having seen plenty of buffalo the last few days, I didn’t follow up more.  Driving around, we did find some kudus and a nice herd of waterbuck at the dam. 
Johannes followed up and found the Sohebele male lions resting near where they had made their kill yesterday, and while I wasn't interested in them, I was keen for some zebras that had been seen going towards Sohebele Plains.  While driving on the plains and looking for these black and white animals, something noticeably white stood out in the distance that I scrutinised for a second or two before the penny dropped...white lion!
I raced towards Broken Dam, to the same area Johannes had the Sohebele lions, and as I drove into the crossing, I saw Johannes’s vehicle, and a guests with a white shirt on the back row...could I really have been so stupid to have mistaken a white lion for a person on the back of the vehicle???  I hesitantly told Grant not to get too excited, I might have been premature in my call about the white lions...
I crossed onto the eastern side of the river behind Johannes, and a couple of hyenas were milling about, but then we saw it, one of the white lionesses!  It was her calling that had attracted Johannes, and she walked off clearly looking for her pride members.

White lioness looking for her pride members
We eventually spotted the tawny cousin, and then out of the bushes the second white lioness came to join them and they lay down in the grass, looking back to the west to where the Sohebele males were.

My guests were delighted, as one of their main reasons for choosing to come to Motswari was to photograph the white lions, and that we did!
They were not looking in the best shape, and judging from a few new scars and wounds, they had been involved in a fight, but we doubt that it was with the Sohebele males.  They showed a lot of affection towards one another, and showed that they were still a close pride, albeit one struggling to find their feet away from their mothers.

Sporting a lot of new cuts and scars, but still united
We eventually left them and let Grant take over – they eventually got up and moved off to the west and came across some old bones of the buffalo kill that they chewed on, but settled very close to where the three male lions were (we did see the three males for a second as we raced to relocate the white lions, but didn’t return to see them in the morning).
Carrying on south towards Thumbela and her stash of kills that had now been added to, we stopped in to view that massive herd of 600-700 buffalo that were feeding south of Java.

Breeding herd of buffalo
Not far from the buffalo, we found a nice herd of giraffes with some calves.

Giraffe herd

We watched as they fed before we parted company and carried on south, and actually found some more impalas, steenbuck and another giraffe.

More giraffe in the south
Arriving at the Thumbela sighting, it was difficult to figure out which lifeless body was hers!  Okay, she was the good-looking one, but still, with four carcasses and a fat belly, she was in no mood to do anything too strenuous and slept the whole sighting!  Still, it didn’t matter much to me, as to see her with an impala and three different steenbuck kills of varying completeness hanging in a tree was quite something!

Thumbela resting next to her FOUR kills!

We had a cup of coffee and headed back north, finding a small breeding herd of elephants near Hide Dam, but they were feeding in a rather thick section of the drainage line before moving out to the east.  As it was getting late, we also had to leave them and head back to camp, spotting some zebras on the road home.

Elephant herd
The cloudy afternoon slowly cleared up, and we enjoyed a more chilled afternoon in the north.  Grant saw loads of elephants in the north, and I amazingly missed out on all of them!  Still, we had a good afternoon that included kudus, water monitors, waterbuck, hippos, crocodiles, impala, steenbuck and some nice birds.

Kudu, water monitor, waterbuck and tawny eagles
As the Sohebele males were lying in the open riverbed, I headed over to have a look at them and take some photos in the late afternoon light, but they were generally very lazy!

Sleepy Sohebele males

They sat up for us once or twice, but didn’t put on the show I had been hoping for, so we eventually left them and went to see if we could have more luck with our hyenas at the den.

Turning into beautiful boys - Sohebele males!
Sadly, they too were in no mood to show themselves, so we enjoyed watching a Wahlberg’s eagle as the sunset.

Wahlberg's eagle sunset
This tranquil moment could have lasted longer, but as my guests wanted to see leopard, and as one was found about 15 minutes away, we moved in that direction.  It was the granny of the north, Mbali female.  She was resting neat Mahlolwa Clearing, and was still there when we arrived.

Mbali female resting
She did eventually sit up, but worrying started getting sick and vomited up a yellow liquid that didn’t look all too healthy?  She was looking a quite lean, and it was not my happiest sighting of her, as I am now wondering how much longer she has left in her?

Mbali getting sick
She eventually got up and moved off, but not wanting to put any pressure on her, we left her to her own devices and went for a drink instead.

Mbali female
Driving home was a quiet drive, although we did get to photograph a little scrub hare.  John, our night watchman, reported a buffalo distress calling near the camp, and with the accompanying hyena calls, I knew it could only mean one thing.  When the male lions started roaring from that direction in the middle of the night, my suspicions were all but confirmed...but finding them is tomorrows challenge!
Scrub hare


  1. Hi Chad

    Fabulous photos!!
    all our favourite animals!!

    sue and andy UK

  2. Fantastic to see the white lions again. Great pics as always . Hope the white's have a nice stay this time . Thanks for all the reports.
    Jen from Australia.