Monday, 21 November 2011

19th November – White Lion’s Struggle Continues!

Photo of the Day

Lone white lioness - why is she seperated again?

Morning Drive
(Grant, Herold and Chad)
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Peru, Long Rd
5 x rhinos
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Oppikoppie

Afternoon Drive
(Grant and Chad)
1 x lion (Xakubasa white lioness) – Kings, Sibejane Rd
1 x leopard (Rockfig Jnr female) – Kings, Eastern Link
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Java Camp
2 x elephant bulls – Peru, Mbali Dam
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Airstrip
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Hidden Away Pan
6 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
3 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Lion Pan
3 x buffalo bulls – Karans, Western Cutline

Daily Synopsis
Post two of my catch-up session, and another good day of game viewing, with some different things being seen today!
The morning was quite cloudy and drizzled for part of the morning, and while actually great conditions for game viewing and tracking (after 8mm of rain last night), we had a bit of a frustrating morning!
It all started off great, with us finding not only a saddle billed stork on the airstrip, but also a clan of 6 hyenas resting on the open part of the runway.  We approached and watched as they slept, but one soon got up and walked straight up to the Land Rover, and then madea  bee-line for our cooler-box packed with coffee and rusks!!!  I had to bang my door and drive off to a new position.  She then came walking straight over to us again, and once more I had to move, but this time she lost interest and went to sleep!

Hyena clan on our airstrip

We left them and carried on with the drive when Marka radioed in some lion tracks near Java Camp, so I headed that side to drop Petros off on the tracks, but did bypass Argyle and Sohebele Dams, seeing many impalas with their new born lambs and some waterbuck as we went as well as the lone hippo in Argyle Dam.

Impala lamb

While heading to the lion tracks, we found very fresh rhino tracks, and soon enough bumped into a herd of 5 rhinos!  They were a quite nervous and ran off – we found them again in the vehicle, but decided it was best to view them on foot, so I took my guests into almost the exact same spot I viewed them on foot last week!  We had a fair sighting of the large male and partially obscured females, but once one ran off, they all followed and we returned to the Land Rover.

I dropped Petros off to go and help Marka, but it turned out Marka had already located the lions, but as it was the whole Mafikizolo Pride reunited, they simply ran off once Marka found them; together Petros and Jackie continued tracking, but they had the same problem in that they found the lions once more, only for them to move off!
I in the mean time had left them and went to check on the hyena den, but in the light rain, only two adults and the bigger cubs were out, with no sign of the young ones this morning.

Hyenas at the den site - no sign of the small cubs

Returning to assist the trackers and hoping to locate the lions in the vehicle, I spent much of the rest of the morning looking for the lions, but had no luck, and after 2 hours of tracking, the trackers gave up, still tantalisingly close behind the pride!

All we really saw was giraffe and baby impalas, but not much else, and as the clouds were breaking, we headed back to camp, already slightly late for breakfast.  Johannes then threw the spanner in the works by finding Kuhanya leopardess sleeping up a tree a few kilometres from the camp, s without even thinking, I turned around and went to join him!
As usual, this gorgeous leopard was posing beautifully for us up in a marula tree – she was looking in great shape, and very alert as she surveyed the surrounds.

The stunning Kuhanya resting up a marula tree

Eventually, she got up and descended the marula tree and wandered off down into the Sohebele Riverbed where we left her and returned to camp.

Kuhanya climbing down the tree

...and moving off into the bush

The afternoon was a coolish one, and the clouds failed to break all afternoon, giving the animals some respite from the heat – it showed and we had a very good afternoon!

Nyala bulls in camp

Our airstrip was once again very productive, and we got to spend some time with our wildebeest herd and their six new calves, as well as many impalas and their lambs too!

Wildebeest and impala babies on the airstrip

On the southern end of the airstrip, two elephant bulls were feeding on the green annual flowers and there was no doubt that they were indeed boys!!!

Elephant bulls also on the airstrip

Carrying on past Piva Plains, they were full of impala and a herd of waterbuck, and then Johannes had a quick sighting of a leopard not far off – despite checking around, we had no luck, so continued towards a small herd of buffalo in the west.  Going past Mbali Dam, there were two elephant bulls, many impalas with lambs and some waterbuck too.  A little further on, we found three old buffalo bulls, but didn’t spend time with them as the herd was not all that far away.

We managed to locate on the small breeding herd of buffalo, no more than maybe 80 buffalos, but it was still nice to see them as they fed past us.

Breeding herd of buffalo with Petros enjoying the sighting too!

With lions on the menu, we didn’t have many options but to go and visit the lone white lioness that had been found on Kings Camp in the morning.  It was not good to hear that she was alone, and judging by her state last time I saw her, it was not really what I wanted to see, but I went there anyway.  We did find impalas, giraffes and some ground hornbills along the way.

Southern Ground Hornbills with a snail meal

Grant informed me that the sighting was a sad one, and she hadn’t even moved while he was there.  Joy. 

I immediate had a negative attitude about it and her chances of survival, especially seeing as she was alone – why, we don’t know, but we suspect that they may have bumped into the Mafikizolo Pride last night.  It was thus a very pleasant surprise to pull in and see her sitting with her head up, and calling for the others.

Lone white lioness looking for the rest of the pride

After a short while, she got up, and rather than being the skin and bones I imagined, she actually looked better than she did last time we saw her!

She was still not in good shape, and had no belly at all, but while she looked like a hungry lion, she didn’t look like a desperate lion!
She went and stood on a termite mound and called a few more times, listening intently for a reply, but none were coming.
She investigated a warthog hole, but this was clearly inactive as she soon moved off and we followed for a while before she went static and continued to call to no avail.

Hungry, but looking better than last time we saw her!

While it was sad to leave her on her own, it was encouraging to see her not looking as bad as I had anticipated; while this bodes well, she desperately needs to reunite with the other two pride members if they are to have a chance of overcoming this difficult period in their lives; but I think they still have a good chance of making it!
I had a drink in the dark and headed back to camp, only seeing a hyena on the way, and Grant went a bit further south to see Rockfig Jnr leopardess to make it a rather good afternoon for him too!


  1. Fabulous pics..... though the only news I really want to hear is that the white lions have had a meal or two, or three.... ridiculous when one is 'praying' for a pride of Lions to survive (like one would for a sick relative)... I am.

  2. As always a wonderful account. Its puzzling why the white lioness is battling to survive and very sad . Hopefully she will soon be reunited with her pride and with all the new born antelope about she has a better chance of getting regular meals.

  3. Wonderful Blog!Your shots are really stunning!

  4. A great story Chad, lets hope these rare and beautiful big cats pull through, thanks for sharing.

  5. I agree with Wanda as my prayers have been focusing on the white lions also, in-fact I find myself continually going to the computer to see if there is a further update on their well-being.Please keep the reports coming as I think there are many of us out here waiting on your every word about these beautiful animals, and so encouraging to hear you say you think they still have a good chance of making it.
    Jen from Australia,

  6. Agree with Jen 100%. A lot of us want to know what is going on with the white lions. And all of us are hoping and praying that they get a meal soon. I hope you are right about their chances of survival. She still looks pretty lean bro.

    To the good news, Kuhanya is gorgeous!!! :-) Great pictures Chad.


  7. just an update - heard that the lost white lioness found a dead buffalo on Ntsiri (a reserve adjacent to Motswari), so she will be eating well until another pride arrives at the kill! will let you know if we hear on the other ones arriving!

  8. Thanks for the update Chad.
    Finally something to eat, wish the other 2 lions was with her though.


  9. Fantastic photos. Thanks you for sharing them.