Monday, 21 November 2011

18th November – New Hyena Cubs!

Photo of the Day
New hyena cubs at the Rockfig densite!!!
Morning Drive
(Grant, Herold and Chad)
5 x hyenas (Rockfig Clan with new cubs!) – Vielmetter, Hide Dam Northern Access
1 x buffalo bull – Vielmetter, Double Highway
1 x buffalo bull – Vielmetter, Vielmetter Access
2 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Jack’s Camp
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Airstrip
15 x elephant bulls – Peru, Voel Dam Southern Access

Afternoon Drive
(Grant, Herold and Chad)
10 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 lionesses and 7 cubs) – Umlani, Rhino Rd
1 x leopard (Umfana male) – Kings, Generator Crossing
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Argyle Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Ingwelala Crossing
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Flooded Crossing
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Argyle Dam
2 x buffalo – Peru, Hippo Rocky Rd
1 x buffalo – Motswari, Camp

Daily Synopsis
Good morning folks!  Hope this blog post finds you all well!  Things are good in the bush, although been very busy, but hoping to catch up on my blog posts today!
Rewinding a bit to Friday, we had a pretty enjoyable day in the bush, with some lovely new faces being introduced to us!  The drive started with a lone hyena walking past us near the lodge, but remained pretty quiet for the first hour, with only some impala and a few drops of rain being seen; but it was worth it as we made our way south to the hyena den site near Hide Dam.  While we suspected that one of the hyenas had given birth a few weeks ago in this den, no one had seen the cubs...until this morning that was!  While Grant and I were heading down there when Marka radioed to tell us that two new cubs were also at the den, and as we arrived, there they were!  Two balls of black fur, only a few weeks old and immediately at ease with our presence!!!

New hyena cubs!
We spent some great time with them as they explored the area close to the den, and interacted with their two older cousins, who themselves were quite curious of the youngsters, but with mom about, they weren’t allowed to get too excited.

Playing with his/her older cousins!
 Eventually they all settled down, and once mom decided to move off, the cubs shot back into the den for their nap and the older cubs milled about the area, so we left them to it.

Looking forward to watching them grow up!
Following that great excitement, we carried on with the drive down in the south and checked out the areas where I hoped to see some leopards, but it was rather quiet; we did see many impalas, some warthogs, kudus, a mother giraffe and calf, a waterbuck bull and a troop of baboons.

Kudu and giraffe calf
My plan had been to head back north, but when I heard that two different leopards had been found further south, I stopped for coffee and waited to respond after the southern stations had been through the sightings.  Thumbela was at Machaton Dam, but lying in an awful spot with a 1 out of 5 visual, so I gave up on her hoping to see Rockfig Jnr leopardess instead; but she too moved into the Machaton Riverbed and disappeared into a thicket – guess it wasn't meant to be my morning, or my last couple of days – that is four leopard sightings in a row that have ended before I could see them!
It was already late and warming up, so I left the area and headed back north, without much to speak of besides two separate sightings of buffalo bulls.
I was expecting four new guests in the afternoon, but by 4pm, none had arrived, so I went out with Gabi and Renate and bumbled about a bit, spending the first part of the drive with a herd of elephants near the lodge.  While watching them, I heard that two of my guests had arrived and I went to pick them up before heading out on a “proper drive”. 

Elephant herd near camp

I headed towards Argyle Dam, seeing some impalas on the airstrip before spotting a large elephant bull below the dam wall.  I went up onto the dam wall, and found a herd of elephants at the water – I also discovered that the bull was in musthe, so quickly changed position and went to watch the herd drinking and feeding on the lush green grass around the water. 

Elephant herd at Argyle Dam
While watching them, more and more elephants came, and we must have had over 30 of these amazing creatures around the dam, in great afternoon light that allowed us to get some beautiful photos.

Elephants drinking at Argyle Dam
As my new guests had asked for leopard, and knowing the luck I was having, I thought I had better take a chance and take up an invite from Kings Camp to go and see Umfana young male leopard that had been located in front of their camp – it was a long way to go on my first drive, but I took a chance.

Leaving Argyle Dam, it was like the animals knew I had somewhere to go, so they all came out!  On Piva Plains, we could see plenty impalas, a herd of waterbuck and a herd of kudu bulls all together.

Waterbuck, impala and kudu

The kudu bulls were glorious, and really put on a show when two of the males began fighting, and with the herd of elephants in the background, it made for an absolutely stunning scene that was difficult to draw myself away from.

Kudu bulls fighting with an audience of elephants
I did, but then the waterbucks came up the bank and into some glorious light, so more photos were needed!

Waterbuck on Piva Plains
A little further, on Sohebele Plains, a herd of almost a dozen kudu bulls were in the open and also needed our attention, then it was more impalas and some warthogs!

Kudus on Sohebele Plains
Eventually the game ceased and we could get down south, not seeing much until we got towards Entrance Dam – there we saw more impalas and more kudu bulls in the open – very obliging today!
The sunset was also pretty special, so we paused for that before eventually heading towards where the leopard was!  I haven’t seen this boy for some time, so it was great to see him around again and looking in good shape, and amazingly relaxed!

Summer Sunset

He gave us a great sighting, although it was a bit difficult to keep up with him as he criss-crossed the Nhlaralumi Riverbed.  Eventually, he went static on a termite mound...

Umfana young male leopard
...but not for long, as a baboon spotted him and on realising he had been seen, the leopard ran off at speed back to the river – just then we caught a break as he turned around to come back, but then a hyena came out the bushes and started chasing him!  At first he ran to a large tree, but then decided not to climb it and carried on running with the hyena in pursuit before he eventually ascended a small apple-leaf – the hyena lost interest and soon the leopard crossed back over the river.

Treed by a hyena
 We caught up with him one last time, but left him too it as darkness fell.

Umfana on the prowl
Heading home after a late drinks stop, we bypassed a zebra herd, some wildebeest and lots of impalas, but the nocturnal animals eluded us; still, at least I eventually got to see a leopard!


  1. Nice sighting of Umfana Chad. Lovely pictures.
    I am very glad to here that Thumbela is still doing alright, a pity she was in a difficult spot, would have loved to see some pictures of her.

    Thanks for the updates.

  2. Amazing sightings and captures Chad.
    God Bless.