Saturday, 19 November 2011

17th November – Great Game-Viewing In Camp!

Photo of the Day
Buffalo bull
Morning Drive
(Grant, Johannes, Herold and Chad)
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Camp
1 x rhino (large, semi-relaxed male)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Ingwelala Boundary
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Camp
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Giraffe Kill Lookout
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Elephant Crossing
2 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Vyeboom Dam
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Vyeboom Dam
2 x elephant bulls – Peru, Jack’s Camp
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Mbali Dam
5 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Horizon Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Ingwelala Boundary
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Ingwelala Boundary
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Wedge Northern Boundary

Afternoon Drive
(Grant, Herold and Chad)
1 x leopard (Kuhanya  female) – Motswari, Giraffe Pan Rd
1 x leopard (Shongile female) – Motswari, Western Cutline/Ingwelala Airstrip
1 x leopard (Gijima male) – Motswari, Airstrip
5 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Ingwelala Boundary
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Jacks Camp
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Argyle Dam Link
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Woza-Woza Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Mfene Crossing
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp Area

Daily Synopsis
Despite a massive list of sightings for the day, I had a slightly frustrating one, and the list was large because Grant, Herold and I all seemed to find our own game during the drives.
I had a morning with no real mission, and following on from yesterday afternoon’s drive was going to be impossible, so I didn’t even try.  There were a few things to show my guests still, so I took it easy driving around the north, and in checking the wedge had several sightings of buffalo bulls in the area.  Herold also had a herd of elephants near the camp, but they had moved off the property by the time I got there.

Old buffalo bull
Carrying on towards Vyeboom Dam didn’t produce much besides impala and a few general game species and a lone baby water monitor resting on a rock, but at the dam we sat watching a large crocodile when two elephant bulls came walking up to the dam for a drink of water.

Big, Bigger, Biggest: water monitor, nile crocodile and elephant bulls at Vyeboom Dam
Grant found a large rhino bull resting in a pan in the east, but he moved off – I thought it would be a great experience to go and walk my guests into this massive rhino.  I stopped off at our local hippo pod in Peru Dam before proposing the rhino-walk, and they sounded keen, so off we went.

Hippos in Peru Dam
Still, it was nice to find our own leopard...but then I guess, we all did tonight, as Grant soon called in Gijima male on Motswari’s airstrip!  He too moved off into a thicket after a few minutes as I headed back to camp – so while we all found our own leopards today, none of them really played along as we have come to expect – I hope they are better behaved tomorrow!

Grant had found where two hyenas were eating the kill that we suspect Klakisa’s boy had, but they finished it and moved off before I got there.  I did manage to see a herd of buffalos at Mbali Dam before going to see if I could find the rhino, and did encounter a flock of ground hornbills along the way.

Buffalo herd at Mbali Dam, and ground hornbill
Arriving at the pan, we found impalas, warthogs, giraffes and zebras in the well as the rhino tracks heading away from the area, so we followed behind Petros as he tracked it.  The tracks were going all over the show as the rhino was feeding, and as there were plenty tracks for other rhinos in the area, it made it difficult, but Petros kept at it.  Sadly though, our time was running out, and I said that we would return to the vehicle and Petros could keep tracking.  Arriving back at the car, I radioed  Petros only to hear that he had found the rhino not 200m from where we turned around, but sadly it ran when it saw Petros; oh well, the exercise was good!

Warthogs and giraffe at Kudu Pan
I didn’t try relocate, mostly because I wanted to go and see Kuhanya leopardess after she had been walking around the camp and been spotted by our staff; Grant had relocated her, but sadly she walked into an impenetrable thicket and was lost – it was hot, so I didn’t even spend much time looking for her.
At camp, the late morning was extremely productive – not only was a large elephant bull walking about in camp, but a herd of 15 elephants came after breakfast to have a mudbath in the pan in front of the camp – what a magic sighting on our doorstep!  Later in the day, the large bull also went for a splash about!
In the afternoon, I tried to look for Kuhanya again, but she wasn't resting in any of the large trees like I had hoped, so after a fruitless 30 minutes, I pulled out of the area; fortunately Herold was not so quick to leave, and after much effort, managed to find her not far from the lodge – great persistence and skill!

Impala ram drinking in the afternoon
I was keen to go and see her, but I had just pulled into a magical sighting of a large herd of elephants at the southern end of Peru Dam and wanted to spend time watching the various fractions of a group that was probably 50-60 strong.

Large, relaxed elephant herd at Mvubu Crossing area
The little injured calf was also with them and really struggling to walk, but its mother was still helping it along and not giving up just yet!

Injured elephant calf struggling to keep up with the herd
Some bulls approached from behind and joined the herd, but when they started moving off, we left them.  Grant stayed a bit longer and enjoyed not only a great elephant sighting, but also some great birds – over 20 species around one little puddle of water!  Also, today marked the arrival of summer, as both Grant and I saw our first Woodlands Kingfishers, and I also ticked off a Steppe Buzzard.

Myriad of birds to supplement an awesome elephant sighting!
I had to move quickly back north, as Kuhanya was mobile to the boundary; I thus didn’t stop for the impalas, waterbucks and kudus I saw, which made my decision to go back even worse, as Kuhanya crossed off the property before I could get there, so it was effort for nothing...for the second time today!
I thus went to enjoy a drink at Vyeboom Dam with some hippos and a good sunset before heading back, still hoping to find Kuhanya.  I didn’t. 

Playing around with sunset shots at Vyeboom Dam
I then opted to try up to the far north – maybe the Mahlathini male lions would show themselves?  Gabi had asked Petros for a chameleon, which he promptly found (on the other side of a bush, even I was impressed – must be his new lucky glasses?).
I then asked him for a leopard.  Ten minutes later, he found me one!  On Ingwelala airstrip, the impalas and a herd of wildebeest with all their calves had attracted a leopard that was lying on the airstrip; it looked like Shongile, but as she soon flopped over, flat cat, it wasn't a great sighting, and as it was at a distance of about 40m, I wouldn’t rank it as my best sighting ever!

The long-lost Shongile on Ingwelala airstrip


  1. Sighting list reads like a shopping list, wow!!!
    Great pics, nice variety. Baby elephant always my favourite.

  2. Chad what is going on with the white lions. I was in Motswari (saw the sohobele battle - which was unbelieveble). At that time the white's where already a bit lean. There is enough food is n't it. Why don't they hunt. To exhausted from a lack of food?? I don't understand.

  3. Hi Tiny

    there is food, just the whites havent been with their mother's since that sighting of yours, and they are young and inexperienced hunters, so they are struggling - i believe the white coat is not helping their cause, but i am sure they will find food eventualy...their mothers used to do the majority of the hunts, and while the sub-adults contributed, they were led by great they just dont know how to do it as well...sure they will learn soon enough :)

    thanks for the kind words WAnda :)