(Marka, Grant and Chad)
7 x lions (Mahlathini males, Jacaranda female and cub, and two Xakubasa pride lionesses) – Motswari, Ekuvukeni Access
1 x leopard (Thumbela female) – Kings, Ridge Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Argyle, Argyle Dam
(Marka, Grant and Chad)
4 x lions (Mahlathini males, Jacaranda female and cub, and two Xakubasa pride lionesses) – De Luca, Drongo Drive
3 x rhino (3 males)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Long Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – De Luca, Ingwelala Airstrip
3 x buffalo bulls- Argyle, Argyle Dam
As one of my guests didn’t join on afternoon drive yesterday, I decided to go and check on the Mahlathini males, and Grant let me know that they weren’t alone! The two mothers of the white lions, as well as their sister from the Jacaranda pride with the cub were together with the males, and had finished off what was left of the buffalo.
Seeing these lions together, it seems as though the association is quite a permanent one, and that for all intents and purposes, we can once again refer to the lionesses as the Timbavati Pride (while all three lionesses were born into the Jacaranda, they formed a break-off pride of 5 lionesses that we referred to as the Timbavati Pride in 2007, and remained as such until the end of 2009...that is when the two mothers of the whites broke off from the Timbavati Pride to form the Xakubasa Pride; why the other sister rejoined the original members of the Jacaranda Pride in 2010 is unknown, but she does appear to have once again left them...so for now, we shall collectively refer to the three of them as the Timbavati lionesses).
Regardless of the name, we had a fair sighting of them – it wasn't easy to get on the right side of the light, and they were moving through some dodgy areas of mopane that made trailing them difficult. We did still have a good sighting albeit without great photos.
|Following the lions through some tricky areas|
The cub was very playful with mom, and even came chasing after our Land Rover at one point, clearly keen to play with us! Eventually the pride settled in a shady area with one male lion. Only the arrival of a second male got some action into them, but after he lay down, we decided to leave them.
|Resting time for the Timbavati Pride and their cub|
Down south, Thumbela had finished her kill and started to move back south. I wanted to see her properly, and as she was active and sounding to be in a good spot, I headed south to see her. It was a long trip. It was hot. But it would be worth it.
We saw at least two herds of zebras and impala along the way, but as nobody else was responding to the leopard, and the only vehicle was waiting just for me, I had to go quicker than I wanted. But it would be worth it.
I arrived at the sighting; turns out, it wasn't worth the effort! Thumbela was sleeping under a terminalia bush, and every angle, bar one, had little branches in the way. The only open view of her, saw her head behind the tree trunk. It was probably one of the most frustrating leopard sightings I had ever had, mostly due to the effort I had made to get there. She moved her head once, looked at us, then went back to her awful position and as I now had to face the long trip back home in the heat, I decided to leave. Only consolation was that Grant also now had to make this trip, as he had joined me down south.
|Thumbela - not my favourite leopard today|
We did tick off some good game on the way back – steenbuck, impala, duikers, wildebeest, giraffe, dwarf and banded mongooses, two monkey sightings, and a scorching sun!
In the afternoon, I promised myself I would do no racing off after sightings, and just to take it easy. While we didn’t see a great deal, it was a far more pleasant drive!
We saw a rare Sharpe’s grysbok to kick of the afternoon, as well as a close relative, the steenbuck.
Around Vyeboom Dam, we saw giraffe herd, impala, a troop of baboons sitting on the rocks, kudu bull and waterbuck, as well as some hippos and crocodiles in the dam, including one close to the dam wall, and a nice African fish eagle.
|Baboons, kudu and waterbuck at Vyeboom Dam|
Grant had managed to relocate on three white rhinos near our boundary, so I slowly headed in that direction, and managed to get there before they crossed over into the neighbouring reserve – we did have a nice sighting of the three males though which was nice.
|Crash of male rhinos|
I then decided to try the hyena den one more time, and slowly ambled in that direction – we ticked off steenbuck, impala, a nyala bull, warthogs and a nice pair of bateleur eagles along the way.
|Nice ealge sighitngs - African fish ealge and a pair of bateleurs...also some feeding kudus|
In the last light of the day, we found a photogenic herd of impalas and a lone steenbuck as we watched the sun set.
|The last golden minutes of the day with some impala, steenbuck and a lovely sunset|
We left them and moved to the hyena den, but I was disappointed to not see them on the eastern entrance. I luckily decided to check the western side of the large mound and found the two cubs lying on the mound.
Despite just resting there, the two hyena cubs were extremely cute and we managed to snap up some lovely shots of the two of them in the fading light.
|Hyena cubs at the den|
After a drink on the airstrip, we headed back to the camp, trying to get lucky in relocating Gijima male leopard that had been seen on Argyle Dam wall earlier. Only Grant took his new guests to see the Timbavati females and a one of the male lions, but overall, it was a quiet afternoon in the heat.