Thursday, 10 November 2011

09th November – It’s About Time!

Photo of the Day

Mafikizolo male

Morning Drive
(Herold and Chad)
3 x lions (Mafikizolo youngsters) – Argyle, Great North
1 x rhino (skittish male)
3 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Old Mpisi Khaya Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Tawny Eagle Rd
3 x elephant bulls – Peru, Vic’s Clearing Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Herold, Marka, Shadrack and Chad)
3 x lions (Mafikizolo youngsters) – Argyle, Golden Orb Rd
1 x leopard (Argyle Jnr female) – Peru, Boolala Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Oppikoppie Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Golden Orb Rd
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North

Daily Synopsis
Not having seen lions since returning from leave, I was a bit unsure as to exactly what they looked like these days.  My intention though was to go and check the northern boundary to see if maybe some lions had come in from the north pursuing the buffalo herd.
Our first animals were that of a herd of giraffe, some zebras and impalas all together, that we spent some time watching until Herold called to tell me that he had a rhino...exactly where I had been searching for one yesterday!  While he had a good sighting on a clearing, the rhino ran off and I decided to not even waste my time, and rather return to my initial objective.

Zebra and Giraffe
Johannes beat me too it, and I soon got a call from him asking my location – I knew he had something, so was delighted when that something happened to be lions, and even more delighted when I happened to be only a few hundred metres away – the Mafikizolo youngsters were right on our northern boundary, for once, one of my suspicions was correct!
I headed over quickly, as they were right on the boundary, so I did have to ignore the baboons at the dam.
I arrived to find them resting in a difficult and thick area, but after a while they got up and began moving – they are slowly getting much better with the vehicles, but following them into a mopane thicket was a bit much and they moved off and we lost them.

Mafikizolo youngsters
It took some time for us to relocate, but when we did, we had a great sighting as the three lions were trying to catch one of three buffalo bulls, but being chased around in the process!
They soon gave up and went to rest, and as they had drawn the interest of the other couple of vehicles in the north, I made space for Herold.  He had a similar sighting as the lions were resting near a dam that the buffalos came to wallow in, but the buffalos soon chased the lions off!

Resting after failed buffalo hunt
The rest of my morning was not too bad – impalas, waterbuck, a couple of elephant bulls resting in the shade of some large marula trees as the morning heated up rapidly. 

Crocodile and elephant - both cooling off on a hot morning!
We then went to view the large hippo pod in Peru Dam before heading back to camp, seeing another breeding herd of elephants also resting in the shade.
The day was a scorcher, and even heading out at 4pm was warm; it showed, as the afternoon started off slowly.  I once again got suckered into checking the east without luck – we did see a couple herds of impalas, steenbuck and a herd of zebras, but our main rhino-driven objective was a failure.

Impala and zebras
I then decided to chance my arm and head south to the “new” hyena den, where the pregnant female had been hanging out, as my guests really wanted hyenas; it was thus a wonderfully pleasant surprise to find that the two cubs from the Java Den site were now at this site, and they were in the company of another adult hyena.

Hyena cubs at their new den
It was a chance I took going this far south, as in the north, our guides had all enjoyed sightings of a herd of elephants, the three Mafikizolo lions, and Johannes, being on form today, had also found a leopard!
Fortunately, I made it back north (seeing giraffe, impala and warthog on the way) and arrived to confirm the ID of the leopard being Argyle Jnr female!
She was quite far south by her standards, and it was great to see her – my first time since August if memory serves correct?  She was looking great and not the skittish leopard she was when I last saw her!

A lactating Argyle Jnr female!
She was very relaxed with us following her, and despite not being the best light, we still had a good sighting of her before she fell asleep in a thicket.
The interesting thing was seeing that she was lactating!  This confirms a report last month of some female leopard and cub tracks that were found near Vyeboom Dam, and we now await to see her next litter – being a great mother, and having raised 7 of her last 7 cubs to adulthood, we look forward to more success from her!
After a lovely sunset, we headed back to camp, not having luck with the lions, but it was still a good day – now we just need Johannes to find us a rhino tomorrow...pretty please!

1 comment:

  1. WOW, 7 from 7 cubs for Argyle Jnr Female... That is spectacular for a leopard. Man, she is a great mother, let's hope the success continues :-)