Tuesday, 25 October 2011

23rd October – Why Do We Never Go East?

Photo of the Day
Sohebele male lion
Morning Drive
(Petros, Grant and Chad)
3 x lions (Xakubasa Pride – 2 white lionesses and 1 tawny male) – Mbali, Mbali Camp
3 x lions (Sohebele males) – Borneo, Abercrombie Dam
14 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Argyle Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Petros, Shadrack, Herald, Grant and Chad)
20 x wild dogs (8 adults and 12 pups killed steenbuck) – Scholtz, Gravel Pits Pan
3 x lions (Xakubasa Pride – 2 white lionesses and 1 tawny male) – Mbali, Mbali Camp
3 x lions (Sohebele males) – Borneo, Abercrombie Dam
1 x lions (Mafikizolo male) – Mbali, Java Dam Rd
1 x leopard (Gijima male) – Motswari, Airstrip
2 x rhino
2 x rhino
2 x rhino
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Long Rd

Daily Synopsis
Well, summer is no longer coming...it is here!!!!  Today reached a scorching 41 degrees in the shade, with the temperature in the sun being closer to about 1354 degrees.  It was warm to say the least.
This seemed to have an effect on the animals in the morning, and we had a dead quiet morning, seeing only a few steenbuck, impalas, a big bachelor group of sleeping buffalos and a nice herd of zebras as we went in search of some white rhinos.

Zebras and buffalo
Fortunately, while looking for those white things, some other white things were found, and we slowly headed towards where the white lions had been located near Mbali Dam.
The sighting wasn't fantastic, and we could only see one of the whites in the open, with the tawny male sleeping a bit further off in the bushes.  They were not active and just rested for the morning, but based on the tracks and small traces of blood, they failed to catch a giraffe they had been chasing, but did get a very small meal at some point last night – not enough to improve their condition though.

White lions
Heading back to camp for breakfast and to escape the warm of the sun that was already beating down on us by 8:30am, I did pass some warthogs, waterbuck, a flock of ground hornbills and impalas already seeking refuge in the shade offered by the greening trees in the north.
Grant headed east for rhinos, but rather than finding any of them, he found the three Sohebele males resting at a waterhole on our southern boundary!  Lucky break for him, and it was a strak of luck that began infuriating me the rest of the day!!!
In the afternoon, feeling like a hot sauna would have been a bit cooler than doing a game drive in this heat, I opted to stay away from the white lions and headed east towards the Sohebele males, knowing that they weren’t going to draw any attention.  Grant and Herald joined me in the east, and the three of us set off south.
For the warmth, we had a fantastic and diverse afternoon.  We ticked off a few warthogs wallowing in some small mud wallows, steenbuck, impala, a distant herd of zebras and then two seemingly relaxed rhinos.  As I approached, they stood still in the scrubby mopane, but as I tried to reposition, thinking that they were very relaxed, they ran off and while we did relocate, I wasn't prepared to push them anymore and left them.
I then started checking the waterholes, and found a relaxed black-backed jackal at Borneo trough, as well as a lone hyena bathing and drinking at Majambi Dam.

Hyena at Majambi Dam
Carrying along the Kruger Cutline to the south, I found another two rhinos that also were a bit nervous, but had a fair sighting of them at distance.  Chad 2 – 0 Grant and Herald.  Grant did manage a brief sighting of the rhinos before they ran off.
Herald got one point back when he found his own two rhinos, but they too were nervous.  Both he and Grant were however killing me on the zebra front, as both saw plenty of them about!

Herald arrived and found the Sohebele male lions still resting at the dam, but almost misidentified them as they were looking in good shape today!

Grant and I made our way towards them and spent time watching them as they lazed about in the open.  Sadly though, the heat was too suppressive to get them to do anything.  Despite Grant having seen a lot of vultures about in the area in the morning, their stomachs were not as big as I had imagined if they had just enjoyed a big kill – they were still well fed and we left them sleeping.

Sleepy Sohebele males
Grant still wanted rhinos, so went to check Gravel Pits, and I headed to Big Dam for a drink, chuffed with my afternoon in the east, and wondering why we didn’t drive here more often.  While enjoying a drink, Grant managed to cement the east’s position as the place to be this afternoon...why?
Well, I guess any spot that produces a pack of 20 unknown wild dogs that not only spent the afternoon playing with a duiker’s head around a waterhole, but then go and catch and kill a steenbuck right in front of you in the waterhole is going to become a favourite!!!
I couldn’t believe it when I got mobile after drinks to hear this news – I could just tell in Grant’s voice as he called me that he had something good!  Sadly, I had taken so much time at drinks that there was very little light left, and while I raced over to get there with a few minutes of light to spare, it was pretty dark and we got to see the pack, but not nearly as well as Grant had – his best ever wild dog sighting according to him! 
The twenty dogs consisted of 8 adults and 12 pups, and were not our regular pack that we see!  This is the exact reason we drive in the east  -you just never know what you are going to find!!!
Grant, now leading 20-2, said, “don’t worry, I’ll find you a leopard to make up for missing out on the dogs Chad”...he did find two honey badgers, and, you guessed it, a leopard!!!
I then rushed over to Motswari airstrip to see Gijima male, but he sadly moved into a thicket and was lost.  I didn’t give up, and after driving around for a while, did manage to relocate him, and actually had a fair sighting of him lying down quite relaxed.  We did lose him as he moved into thick bush, but I was still too bleak over missing the wild dog sighting that be happy that I had seen a leopard!
So, for an area that we don’t often drive “because there are no animals”, the east did pretty damn good today – hyenas, 3 lions, 3 different crashes of rhinos, honey badgers and 20 wild dogs!
This all meant that we weren’t even upset that we missed the white lions this afternoon, as well as the Mafikizolo male lion that approached them before they ran off, or indeed the leopard that was also located near the lions. 
I guess I know where I am going to check first thing tomorrow morning; and I can tell you it isn’t going to be west!!!


  1. All in one day???? Wow what a drive we had.. Thanks for taking us east.

  2. LOL... 1354 degrees :)
    Nice post Chad. Great sighting, pitty you were too late for great photos of the wild dogs. Love the male Lions and the hyena pics.
    I have a wild guess that you will be going east :)


  3. Good morning Chad

    We came back well in France, we have marvellous memories at the head, and I look for the suite of your adventures on your blog.
    I see that you saw again the white lionesses after our departure, brilliant.

    Stephane, Christian, Annie

  4. Thanks wanda and lourens! always enjoy reading your comments each day!

    bonjour Stephane, Christian and Annie! Happy to hear that you all got back to France safely, and hope that you are enjoying work! yes, we did get to see the white lions again, and lions have been good, but very few leopards sadly...seems that maybe you took all of our leopards with you in you luggage when you went back to France! :)

    keep well