Wednesday, 16 November 2011

14th November – The Heat Breaks!

Photo of the Day
Mbali looking in great shape!

Morning Drive
(Marka, Herold and Chad)
8 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 lionesses and 5 cubs) – Kings, Hyena Rd
1 x leopard (Mbali Female) – Java, Back of Java
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Mbali, Terminalia
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Hippo Rocky Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Kings, Hyena Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Marka, Johannes, Herold and Chad)
8 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 lionesses and 5 cubs) – Kings, Hyena Rd
2 x lions (Xakubasa Pride – 1 white lionesses and 1 tawny male) – Java, Java Dam Rd
1 x lion (Xakubasa white lioness) – Java, Java Dam
1 x leopard (Mbali Female) – Java, Java Access
4 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Lion Pan
1 x buffalo bull – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd
2 x buffalo – Argyle, Rudi’s Rd
2 x elephant bulls – Peru, Jacks Camp
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Argyle Dam
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Sohebele Dam
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Mbali Dam
1 x elephant bull – Mbali, Giraffe Kill Lookout
1 x elephant bull – Buchner

Daily Synopsis
I guess you all know by now that I take ages to put up these blogs, so once more apologies for lagginf behind a bit; but it has been an amazing couple of days at Motswari, so worth keeping a check on the updates that will follow over the weekend!
This morning saw me heading straight south to go and check on the hyena den on a day that the weatherman promised would reach a maximum of a rather mild 27 degrees; when I left for drive at 5h30, it was already 26 degrees Celcius!
Heading south didn’t produce much besides a male leopard’s tracks and some fresh rhino tracks that Petros began tracking on foot I carried on, and with my “eyes” off the vehicle, my guests did a good job finding me some impala, kudus and a small herd of giraffes.

Kudu bulls
I carried on to the hyena den and found one adult and one cub outside when we arrived.  Eventually the second cub came out of the mound and by the time we left, a total of five hyenas were all walking about around the termite mound making the trip worth it.

Hyenas at the den
I carried on checking around for more rhino tracks while Petros followed up on foot, and I soon found fresh tracks for a herd of buffalos heading towards Tamboti Wallow, so I began following up.  I did make one mis-read that led to no more tracks being found, but we did come across a small baby nyala!

Nyala fawn
I returned to the tracks and soon found my erroneous turn, but on the second attempt, I managed to locate the large breeding herd of buffalo that had now begun settling down for the morning.
Buffalo herd
While with them, I asked Petros how he was getting along, and he told me that he had been unable to find the rhino, but he had managed to find a leopard sleeping up a tree!  Nicely done Petros; first time I have sent someone out to look for rhino and he comes back with a leopard!
We wasted no time in getting back to Petros, and found a flock of ground hornbills, impalas and a herd of zebras on the way before heading to the area where the leopard had been spotted.
We managed to find it still sleeping high up in the marula tree; it was the granny of the reserve, Mbali female!

Mbali female resting up in a marula tree
We watched her as she posed on the broad branches of the shady marula before she moved down to a lower branch to pose some more.

Mbali posing for us
As I was waiting for Marka to take over the sighting from me, she climbed down and moved off to the east, and I made space for the other stations after a great sighting.

Down Mbali goes
As the morning’s temperature had exceeded 27 degrees at about 5h31, I headed straight back to camp to allow the guests to rest and cool off.
The afternoon saw me receiving some new guests, that included our “November Regulars” Gabi and Renate!  Our first drive took us quite far south, but it was a great return to the bush for them.  We started at Argyle Dam in the early afternoon, hoping that the heat would pull the animals to the water.  We ticked off impalas and kudu bulls before the dam, and while sitting at the dam we could see a lone elephant bull in the water, the hippo, a waterbuck, a herd of impalas and a distant giraffe...and then the wind got turned on!  Literally, in an instant, a gusty wind started that didn’t let up the entire evening – and while I normally despite the wind, today’s wind was so refreshing that I didn’t even mind, and seemingly, neither did the animals!
Elephant at Argyle dam
We found more herds of waterbuck and impala and a steenbuck on Piva Plains, a distant elephant bull at Sohebele Dam, another elephant bull at Mbali dam, one more elephant along the Nhlaralumi riverbed, a lone buffalo bull, many impalas and another group of four buffalo bulls al we meandered along the Nhlaralumi Riverbed.

Waterbuck, impala and buffalo bull
While half contemplating going to see a nearby herd of buffalos, we found a semi-relaxed African wild cat in the daylight and gave up on the buffalos, as our main mission was still some way south.  While I made the trip there, the north sounded to be good – Marka found a lone white lion at Java Dam, and Johannes found the other two not far off to the west – they also got to see Mbali female again in the afternoon when she was found on Java Access.
My mission south was to see a healthier looking pride of lions; the Machaton Pride that were still missing two of their cubs.  They were west of Cheetah Plains, so I headed there bypassing herds of impalas and a lone wildebeest before arriving in the area of the lions.
Impala and wildebeest
As we pulled in, we found the pride all drinking water from a little mudwallow that had filled after the recent rains.

Machaton Pride having a drink
They then got up and moved east towards Cheetah Plains, giving us a nice “walk-by” in the process; we left them temporarily and went around, hoping to see some action of a hunt.

Machaton lions (and a bit of Andrea's arm) on the move
Arriving on the other side of the Machaton River, we found the lions all standing on the plains watching a distant impala herd, but being too light and with no cover, they all lay down again, but alert and aware of what was going on – well, not alert enough to catch a scrub hare that one lioness accidentally flushed from the bush!

Resting on Cheetah Plains
As darkness was setting, we left the pride still resting, but looking to make the most of the windy conditions – nice to see some healthy looking lions again!  This is more than I can say for the lone white lioness that I bumped into on the way home while having a look around for Mbali – the lioness was resting in the middle of the road, but we didn’t spend time with her and headed back to cam instead, leaving our search for the white lions until tomorrow; really hoping that they reunite and get a meal soon!

On the lookout
Herold tried for the other white lion cub without luck due to the wind, but we will keep trying – also interesting, as I have been typing this, a leopard was trying to stalk impalas in front of the camp!  What a terrible office I have!            

1 comment:

  1. Great day in the bush Chad. I will trade offices with you any day :-). You just say when!
    Great pictures of Mbali and the healthy lions.