Wednesday, 9 November 2011

07th November – Now I Know What Grant Went Through!

Photo of the Day
Klakisa young male descending a marula tree

Morning Drive
(Shadrack, Marka, Grant and Chad)
2 x lions (Makfikizolo youngsters) – Jaydee, Madala Crossing
1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Argyle, Hennie’s Rd
1 x leopard (Rockfig Jnr female) – Kings, Mafikizolo Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Scholtz, Borneo-Scholtz Cutline
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Peru Cutline
6 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Entrance Rd
2 x buffalo bulls – Java, Java Dam Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Java-Mbali Rd
3 x elephant bulls – Ingwelala, Argyle Rd
2 x elephant bulls – Java, Marula Overhang
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp

Afternoon Drive
(Shadrack, Marka, Grant and Chad)
13 x wild dogs – Scholtz, Big Dam
1 x leopard (Klakisa’s boy) – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd
4 x buffalo bulls – De Luca, Western Cutline
2 x buffalo bulls – Scholtz, Repair Dam
7 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Woza-Woza Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp
1 x elephant bull – Jaydee, Makulu Plains

Daily Synopsis
Reading about Grant’s quiet days last week, I couldn’t believe that they could be that bad...until this morning!

Looking at the list of Big 5 seen this morning is a bit misleading, and while the morning did improve for some of the guides, most of the morning involved me checking just to see if my radio was working, as it was dead out there!!!

The sum total of my first 2 hours of driving was a couple of impala herds, frogs nests, dung beetles, weaver nests, spiders nests (yes, I had a to talk about something!!!), an empty hyenas den site, and eventually two elephant bulls...of which one was heavily in musthe and didn’t want us around, so we had to leave him!  We also ticked off some more buffalo bulls.

Buffalo and dung beetles
Two of my guests had to leave early, and I felt under a lot of pressure to find them lions and a nice leopard – it was thus very frustrating to hear that Mbali leopardess was found as I was dropping the guests off back at camp!
Still, I had some other guests that wanted to see leopard, so I headed over to see her – the animals slowly started waking up – waterbuck herds, impalas, steenbucks, crocodiles, nice birds and eventually a lot of mopane trees, inside which was a leopard!

Mbali in a mopane thicket of note!
Yip, Mbali was up to her nomadic wanderings again and ended up way north on Argyle – while the bush was exceptionally thick, we did manage to follow her for some time before the thicket eventually broke and we left her heading towards the Timbavati’s western boundary.

Mbali heading west
She was looking quite thin and not as good as when Grant last saw her, but she wasn't all that bad.  Speaking of not looking bad, Grant chose to go south and see another leopard that was picked up late in the morning, Rockfig Jnr and Kings kindly let Grant go see her – good news is that she is pregnant and not far from giving birth – so hopefully within a month she will have given birth to a more successful litter of cubs!  As Grant also found a large breeding herd of buffalo in the east, his morning was a lot better than mine!
I headed back to camp, not choosing to rush to Makulu Dam to where two of the Mafikizolo lions were found chasing a another breeding herd of buffalo – Shadrack went to see them, but didn’t have the best sighting as they had gone to rest along the banks of the Nhlaralumi.
We did see some kudu, impala and steenbuck going back to camp, which helped make the morning feel like less of a failure, but the first half of the drive was extremely tough.
The afternoon proved to be a fairly decent one, albeit once again frustrating in our search for anything that even remotely resembled a lion.  I had guests for just one night, so had a lot to find; we started off with an elephant bull coming to visit the pool during High Tea, so that was a great way to begin the afternoon.

Elephant during High Tea
We then ticked off some impalas and a group of buffalo bulls near the lodge.

Buffalo bulls
Carrying on, Marka tried to follow up on a rhino that Johannes had seen near camp in the morning, but had no luck – I managed to tick off a few of the other reserve inhabitants like some nice male kudus and warthogs.

Kudu bull
Hearing that Klakisa’s young boy had been found near Mbali Dam, I went over to see this leopard to see if he was really as relaxed as everyone said he was – I dropped my tracker off with Grant so that they could g and follow up on the Mafikizolo lions at Makulu Dam.
Giyani did a great job following the leopard through some difficult terrain and I arrived to join Herold at the sighting – and wow, it was true, this gorgeous little boy is now quite relaxed and gave us a great sighting!

Klakisa'a one son - very relaxed now!
He wandered around paying little attention to us, and was obliging enough to spot a squirrel in a marula tree that he chose to ran after and try and catch! 

Klakisa's boy chasing squirrels
He eventually came down and wandered off north – he went to sleep for a while before moving off towards Mbali Dam and we left him to look for some other game.
The elephants that we expected to find in the area all avoided us, but there was a lot of impala around, as we made our way towards the newly active hyena den near Hide Dam.  While the mother hasn’t given birth yet, it is imminent and we enjoyed a sighting of three adult hyenas interacting outside the den.

Impalas and hyenas at the den
Just before sundowners, we found a herd of wildebeest and shoes a spot that would allow us to possibly hear the lions roaring if they were still in the area, as despite Grant’s persistence and the tracker’s best efforts, the Mafikizolo youngsters once more proved impossible to track – they had been busy hunting, as was testified to by the large, fresh wounds Grant saw on a zebra in the area they were tracking them.

Wildebeest herd
Had I not needed lions, I most definitely would have gone to join Marka and Shadrack with the pack of wild dogs that they located resting full-bellied at Scholtz big dam.
During drinks, the Rockfig hyena clan matriarch came walking 15m past us to end off an enjoyable afternoon!
While we searched the area for the lions after dark, they eluded us once more – we did by-pass waterbuck, impala, an elephant bull and a chameleon.
I guess we shall just have to try again in the morning!


  1. Hi Chad

    Fantastic pictures as usual. The bush looks great especially my favaourite leopards and elephants.

    Sue and Andy from a very wet and chilly UK

  2. Good to see the Mbali female leopard looking better than we saw her, although still thin, have thought lot about her. Sue and John

  3. Amazing sightings and captures as can be seen in your and Grants uploads.
    Blessed day and week. God Bless.