Monday, 14 November 2011

11th November – New White Lion Cub: Shadrack’s Even More Magic Potion!!!

Photo of the Day
Wild dog pups at play
Morning Drive
(Marka, Shadrack and Chad)
5 x rhino
8 x lions (Machaton Pride -  3 lionesses and 5 cubs) – Tanda Tula, Shortcut
20 x buffalo bulls – Karans, Old Closed Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Shadrack and Chad)
13 x wild dogs – Kings, Double Highway
6 x lions (2 x unidentified lionesses with four cubs, including one White cub!) – Umbabat
1 x lion (Mahlahtini male) – Umbabat
1 x lion (Jacaranda Lioness) – Umbabat
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Argyle, Crossing Below Argyle Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Sohebele Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Flooded Crossing
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Piva Plains

Daily Synopsis
Marka and Shadrack headed out early as their guests had an early checkout, and they still needed to find some rhinos – when I joined drive half an hour later, the rhinos still hadn’t played along, so I was quite chuffed when Giyani said he had tracks for a herd of five rhinos on the road I was heading south along. 
I dropped Patrick on the tracks and carried on towards the hyena den when we spotted one of the rhinos running across the road and into the bush – clearly these were not relaxed rhinos!
I told the guests we would have to walk into them, and so we alighted from the vehicle, did a brief safety talk and headed off after them; then I realised the problem – I am rubbish at tracking!!!  Surprisingly, for someone of my abilities, I managed to keep the tracks for some time, passing piles of very fresh droppings, but eventually I lost the tracks.  Fortunately lady luck was still on our side, and I continued in the general direction that the tracks had been heading (and where, above the wind, I thought I could hear the rhinos), and got lucky finding the five rhinos!
We didn’t have the most magic visual of them before they moved off (chased by the large male), but we got to see them at least!  They moved into an extremely thick area, so Marka and Shadrack (both expert trackers) managed to relocate them, and their guests got a great sighting before heading back to camp.
I carried on south, and did find my hyenas, albeit later than I had hoped – it was warming up, and the adults moved off to shade as I arrived – there was no sign of the cubs.

Hyena near the den
We were extended an invite to head south to Tanda Tula to see the Machaton Pride, so I made my way in that direction, and didn’t see all that much – a poor sighting of a giraffe and calf, impalas and then a nice herd of zebras on Cheetah Plains.

Zebra herd
The line up for the lions had emptied, so I moved in their direction and arrived to find the eight lions resting in the shade right next to the road – great!  The only problem was that there were two less lions than there should have been!
Since two days back, two cubs went missing, so their fate remains unknown, but the mothers and the five remaining cubs were looking in a good enough condition, and while quite sleepy, would sit up from time to time to listen to some nearby impalas.

Machaton Pride - down to 8?
The youngsters would move to shadier spots and wake up to snap at the pesky flies, but overall, they enjoyed a lazy morning.

Pesky flies!
We had to part company with them and make the long trip home – we didn’t see much besides lots of impalas, but it was nice to get down south again, as I hadn’t drive there for a while considering our good lion-viewing in the north last month.

The afternoon was good...and I would have enjoyed it more had Shadrack not told me what he saw deep in the Umbabat!
Having new guests, I had to start my searching all over again, but the animals started off by making it easy for me. 
Firstly we had quite a large herd of maybe 300 buffalo very close to Argyle Dam that we started off watching.

Yellow-billed oxpeckers on a large buffalo herd

Leaving them to head towards a herd of elephants at Sohebele Dam, we found a big male giraffe near Argyle Dam, as well as a lone elephant bull on Piva Plains with the resident impalas there.

Elephant bull on Piva Plains
As these animals took up a bit of time, the elephant herd had moved, but we got to see them still feeding and drinking in the Sohebele Riverbed below the dam wall.  In the distance another herd crossed over and after some nice time with them, and getting to see a young calf, we headed south, hoping to catch the wild dogs in a more active mode.

Elephant herd in the Sohebele Riverbed
Going south was not overly productive, and besides many impalas, things were a bit quiet.  We did come across another couple of giraffe bulls, but not much else until we arrived at the wild dogs.

Giraffe bull and impala herd
All 13 of the pack were sleeping in the Nhlaralumi riverbed on Double Highway, and we got to spend until darkness with them, hoping that they would go and hunt, being less fat than last night!

The pups played around for a bit, but it took the adults a long time to move off, but they did, and after a few minutes, the pups followed.

Playful pack of wild dogs in the Nhlaralumi Riverbed

Sadly, they headed straight towards Kings Camp, and we didn’t go following them in front of the camp – it was thus disappointing to hear that they ended up making a kill right outside the camp – oh well, better luck next time Chad!

Wild dogs heading off on the hunt just after sunset
After a lovely drink, we got to watch the moon rising over Makulu Plains as a herd of waterbuck moved off into the darkness.  The rest of the drive was quiet, and Patrick was trying his best to spot a chameleon for the guests, who were already astounded by his keen eye-sight.  It was thus rather fitting that eventually, with only 200m left of the drive, he found a green chameleon in a green tree about 30m off the road – I think he certainly cemented his place in the minds and stories of the guests for some time to come!

Rising full moon
It was only when I got back to camp and Godfrey asked me what it was about the white lions and I looked at him blankly that I was informed that Shadrack and his guests had seen one...but not just the “normal” white lions of the Xakubasa Pride.  No.

He had headed deep into the Umbabat on a report of the Mahlathini males being in the area, and while he did manage to see one of them, as well as the old (and badly injured) Jacaranda lioness – it was what he saw afterwards that made me green with envy.
He found a pride of lions – two adult lionesses and four cubs of about two months old eating an impala!  Wow, it is such a treat to see such young lions...but not as much of a treat as to see them when they are not only just cubs, but white cubs!  Yes, one of the cubs was the latest addition to the White Lions of the Timbavati!!!!
How lucky can guests get on their first drive, to see one of now only four know wild white lions in the world!  And one that we had no idea existed!  We are still not even sure which pride they are, but with some luck, they will be around tomorrow and I will be able to see this for myself and answer some of the questions that have been posed...

New white lion cub born in a litter of four; the other three are all normal - the mother's identity is not yet know (photos courtesy of Alain and Marie-Claude)
I won’t hold my breath on it, but I hope that I won’t be disappointed!


  1. Great day Chad. Can't wait for your story about the new white cub! This is great news, and a massive surprise!

    What happened to the Jacaranda lioness (Fight?)
    Love your wild dog and lion shots, as well as the moon pic to end it off with.


  2. Thank you for sharing these marvelous photos. Looking for more follow up on the white cub. It will be a treat to watch it grow and prosper...

  3. I love Wild Dogs!
    I saw them just 3 times...