Tuesday, 22 November 2011

21st and 22nd November – Kuhanya Ready to Mate...Despite the Wet Weather!

Photo of the Day
Kuhanya having a drink

21st November - Morning Drive
(Grant and Herold)
4 x wild dogs – Kings, Nyati se Gat
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Argyle Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, 2nd Nhlaralumi
2 x elephant bulls – Peru, Peru Dam
3 x elephant bulls – Java, Java Access
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Double Highway
3 x buffalo bulls – Kings, Cole’s Plains
21st November - Afternoon Drive
(Grant, Chad, Shaddy and Herold)
1 x lion (Jacaranda Male with buffalo kill) – Peru, Lion Pan Rd
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – De Luca, De Luca Pump House
1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Peru, Sohebele Dam
3 x rhinos
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Trade Entrance Pan
2 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Argyle Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Camp
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Airstip
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Piva Plains
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Trade Entrance

22nd November - Morning Drive
(Grant, Shaddy, Chad and Herold)
2 x rhinos
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Simbavati Entrance
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Jaydee Access
6 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Wilkens Way
4 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Xikari Rd
3 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Mfene Crossing

22nd November - Afternoon Drive
(Grant, Chad, Shaddy and Herold)
1 x lion (Jacaranda Male with buffalo kill) – Peru, Lion Pan Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Airstrip Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, False Marula
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Old Gate
8 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Apple Leaf Rd

Daily Synopsis
Despite having the morning off, I was still wide awake at 4:45am, damn internal body-clock!!!  After hearing about the morning, I almost wished I was out on drive!

Herold was on form and found Kuhanya leopardess near the camp at the beginning of the drive after she spent most the night calling around the staff village – her mom, Mbali was also there to be see near Sohebele Dam.  Additionally, plenty of elephants, a herd of buffalo, a male lion with a buffalo kill and the Machaton Pride were seen by the stations over the course of the morning.
This set up my guests’ first drive very nicely, although based on the first 35 minutes, I wasn't so sure!  I went to De Luca, to look for Kuhanya, but found no sign, I clearly checked too far north as later Herold found her in one of her favourite spots – De Luca pump house.
We almost didn’t have to leave camp for the first sighting as a herd of elephants pitched up as we were setting out for drive – I took my time to get to them, and arrived later after only seeing impala, kudu and steenbuck on De Luca.  The herd was feeding on the bank opposite to us, and right in front of the chalets on the riverbank!

Elephant herd in front of camp
I left them and we then found an even bigger herd of elephants spread out in a front on our airstrip – seems like it was an elephant afternoon, as Johannes had even more elephants at Argyle Dam!

Elephant herd on the airstrip
It was while with the second herd that Herold radioed to tell me that he had Kuhanya, so I went to join him as she walked through some pretty thick bush, but her course was set, so it was easy enough to follow her.

Kuhanya looking for a mate
She eventually ended up at her destination, De Luca trough, and we sat and watched as this beautiful leopard slaked her thirst for a few minutes.

Kuhanya drinking at De Luca Trough
While following her, Johannes found Mbali at Sohebele Dam, but we stuck with Kuhanya for a while longer – she eventually left the water and resumed her calling, clearly she is in estrus and looking for a male to mate with – she roared and scent-marked around the trough before walking into the mopane thicket to the east, still roaring for a partner.

Kuhanya scent-marking

I went back toward Mbali Dam for a drink, but we got some nice sightings along the way – first we found a lone hyena wandering about, and then a herd of elephants spread out on Piva Plains with a load of impalas on the clearing too.

Impala and elephant herds on Piva Plains
After a drink stop at Mbali Dam, Herold and I went over to see this unknown male lion and his dead buffalo – the buffalo died of old age the night before, and the male lion was lucky enough to come across it yesterday afternoon.  While I do need to double check the photos, I am sure that he is the younger of the two Jacaranda/Umbabat males that used to control the Jacaranda Pride in the north until they Mahlathini’s took over earlier his year (I have confirmed this).

Old Jacaranda male makes a return
At first he sat up but then fell asleep – we thus went and spent time with the five hyenas that had gathered nearby, eager to feed on the unattended carcass, but well aware of the lion nearby.

Five hyenas waiting near the buffalo carcass
One hyena eventually went to try get a mouthful, but as soon as the male lion heard the carcass being eaten on, he jumped up and ran in and chased off the hyenas!  He soon returned and began to feed on the rather ripe smelling meal!  I cant imagine he will finish it, and suspect he will only spend a day or two more in the area?

Jacaranda male after chasing off the hyenas
We left him and headed back to the camp, not ticking off anything more as we went along, but going to bed in the late evening, the sound of falling rain sent us all to sleep – if the weather man is correct (and that is a big “if”), we should be getting a good amount of rain over the next couple of days!  Maybe the rivers will even flow is we are lucky!
Next Day...
Well, for once, it looks like the weather man was spot on, and we did get even more than the 30mm of rain he predicted!  The rain gauge settled at 36mm for the night, and we set off to a wet-looking bush.  We soon joined the bush in looking wet as a slight drizzle fell intermittently through the morning (the weather must have been inclement to cause me to leave my cameras at home!!!)
The temperatures dropped markedly and there was a chill in the air that didn’t cause much activity in the animals of the reserve.  We started off with three buffalo bulls near the camp, then not much else besides impalas and some distant waterbuck as we went.
Some rhinos in the south drew our attention and we headed down to see them, not seeing much along the way.  We managed to locate on the rhinos again, but right in a thicket that didn’t provide for a great sighting, but eventually they moved into an area that we could at least seem them for what they were, and not just wet rocks!
Wet rhinos!
The rain started falling harder, and we moved out, stopping briefly at a small herd of buffalos nearby before actually heading back to camp like all of the other guides – the weather won this morning!  We did tick off a giraffe and warthogs on the way home, but a warm shower and breakfast was much more appealing in our state!
The afternoon turned out to be almost as wet, and we had no sooner finished lunch when the rain started falling again.  This didn’t bode well for game viewing, but despite the terrible conditions, we had a fair drive.
Sightings included a large kudu bull on a termite mound, many impalas with young babies, a lone female giraffe, two breeding herds of elephants in the north, some waterbuck, and also a visit to the male lion and his buffalo kill, but sadly he wasn't in any mood to do much as he slept off his fat belly!
Old Jacaranda male sleeping off his belly
Some other news that I am sure you will all be happy to hear is that the lone white lioness has been reported on the adjoining game reserve feeding on a large buffalo bull that had died!  She is till alone, but with some luck her two pride mates will find her and join in on the meal before one of the resident prides of that area pitch up to chase them off!
Also, I just want to say a good-bye – I am heading off on three weeks of long leave, so wont be posting for the next while!  I trust that you have enjoyed my blog posts over the last three weeks – there have been some special sightings and it has been great to be able to share with you – also based on the number of views over that period, it seems as though you have all enjoyed it too!  So please keep on reading, and please keep sharing links to this page – as the more people that we can get to share our paradise with, the better!
So have a safe and enjoyable three weeks and I will catch you all again in mid-December...although, I might get around to posting my experience of East Africa with you all, now that I have some time off!

Take Care
Chad Cocking


  1. Thanks for all the great updates Chad, we did enjoy them. Great news about the white lioness, I just hope that the other 2 members can join soon.
    They NEED that meal.

    Enjoy your leave.

  2. I usually spend hours on the net reading blogs on various subjects. And, I really would like to praise you for writing such a fabulous article.I really like your way of information given.Thanks! ration MREs meals ready-to-eat

  3. Good to hear better news of the white lion. We hope by your return she will be back with the others and that Kuhanya will have found a mate!
    Have a good break, Greetings from Sue and John

  4. flawless photography once again... you're good, really good Chad. Best news about the lioness feeding. Great drive, thanks for taking me with.

  5. Great photos of the gorgeous Kuhanya, especially the one of the mirroring in the water. And also good news about the white lioness feeding at last.
    Enjoy your leave


  6. Hello Chad, best news is to hear that the white lion has her meal. Hope the others will join her very soon.
    Have a nice leave and looking forward to the East African pictures.