Thursday, 17 November 2011

15th November – Machaton Cubs Alive and Well, But White Lions Still Starving!

Photo of the Day
White lions - the struggle for food continues
Morning Drive
(Marka, Johannes, Herold and Chad)
2 x lions (Xakubasa Pride – 1 x white lioness and 1 x tawny male) – Peru, Woza-Woza Cutline
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Peru, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Aardvark Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Horizon Rd
2 x elephant bulls – Peru, Pan Rd
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Argyle Dam
2 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Pan Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Marka, Johannes, Herold and Chad)
10 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 lionesses and 7 cubs) – Tanda Tula, Tortillis Plains
2 x lions (Xakubasa Pride – 1 tawny male and 1 white lioness) – Peru, Apple Leaf Rd
1 x lion (Xakubasa lioness) – Peru, Mbali River Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Leopard Rock Hide
2 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Jacks Camp
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Tanda Tula, Machaton Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Camp
1 x elephant bull – Karans, Sumatra North-South Cutline
2 x elephant bulls – Karans, Western Cutline

Daily Synopsis
After yesterday’s long drive, I decided to take a chilled approach to the morning, and for once, so did the weather, and the scorching heat relented for a part of the day; in fact we had 3mm of rain last night and it was still drizzling in the morning as I checked the Wedge for any sign of leopard, but had no luck besides a herd of impalas and two herds of kudus.
Heading towards Vyeboom Dam I bumped into a small herd of elephants and spent time with them as they moved towards our northern boundary with Ingwelala.

Elephant herd
The herd was extremely relaxed around us and came and fed within metres of the car; the only thing that spooked them was when a lone hyena came walking past and caused the herd to become very defensive.  The hyena wandered off, the elephants crossed over to Ingwelala and we too left the area, seeing impalas and waterbuck around Vyeboom Dam.

Elephants and hyena
After coffee with a crocodile at Buffalo Pan, we headed back east to where Kuhanya had been found earlier in the morning.  Driving in that direction, we managed to tick off more impalas, waterbuck, a herd of giraffes and some great birds, including a beautiful Saddle-billed Stork.

Giraffe, waterbuck and saddle-billed stork
I went and took over control of the sighting from Johannes and got to follow Kuhanya as she ambled through the mopane thickets of the east – really not ideal hunting conditions for her, but she appeared to be hunting after something else – I suspect a male leopard as she was definitely trying to follow the scent of something!

Kuhanya on a mission
We followed her for sometime but as the morning heated up we decided to leave her and head back to camp.

Kuhanya sniffing about
Other news for the morning was that the white lions were once again found, but sadly still separated by a small distance, and more worryingly, still having not eaten.

In the afternoon, I was in need of some rhinos, and as it had warmed up a wee bit, I thought I should try the waterholes in the east; but as usual, I always pick the wrong day and I ended up seeing very little there; impalas, warthogs and a lone elephant bull – quite an impressive specimen it must be said!
Oh yes, and one wildebeest!

Warthogs and large elephant bull

Heading back towards Mbali Dam where the white lions were, I hoped to catch them at a good time to see them active – sadly though, the heat and their lack of food didn’t make them very active, and as we like to say here, they were “flat cat”.

White lions - still skinny and lethargic
We persisted and eventually got some movement, but it was simply to go and lie on the road, but sadly the light was so bad that it didn’t allow for pictures.

Hope they get a meal soon
Heading to go have a drink long the riverbed, we bypassed the separated white lioness, but she too was dead to the world and we didn’t even bother stopping.  Heading back to camp was very quiet, and we didn’t manage to tick anything off.
While the news of the white lions wasn't good, Marka and Johannes went south to see the Machaton Pride, and pleasingly, they had managed to relocate and reunite with their two lost cubs, once more taking the pride up to 10 lions!


  1. WOW, Kuhanya is gorgeous Chad.
    It is such a pity about the white lions struggling, they were "flat cat" in more than one way. They are soooo thin!

    Great to hear that the 2 lost cubs were reunited with the Machaton pride.


  2. Beautiful pics again... Love the B&W Elephant... sad about the white lions...

  3. Why are they not feeding? No easy prey for them in that area? I'm curious..thanks for sharing..beautiful photo's..Melissa

  4. Melissa - the pride is very young and inexperienced since their mothers left them, so they are still trying to find their feet as a hunting unit, and i am sure the white colour is not helping their cause...but nature is amazing, so i am sure they will pull through, even if it is a struggle:)