Thursday, 24 November 2011

23rd November: The Quiet After The Storm.

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Chad, Herold, Grant & Shadrack.)

Rhino ( 2 x Males.)
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Western Cutline.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack, Marka & Giyani.)

Elephant ( Kambaku) / DeLuca – Argyle RD.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Lily Pan Rd.
Lion ( 2 x Maghlatini Males)
Lion ( Maghlatini Male & Jacaranda Female)
Rhino ( 2 x Males)

Daily Synopsis.

Well hello there, Grant here reporting for blogging duties! A very big thank you to Chad for keeping us up to date with all the goings on and all his marvellous pictures. We wish you a great long leave and we will catch you in three weeks time! So yes, that means you, and I mean you our blog followers, are stuck with me for the unforeseeable future, ha ha.

No doubt Chad let you know all about the wonderful rain we received yesterday, unfortunately most of it was during game-viewing hours. This however did not seem to affect things to major and we still had ourselves a good day. So waking to a drier morning and the outlook good to remain that way, I thought we would be in for a bumper morning. This was also backed by the fact that we had Kuhanya calling in camp the entire night and I had heard her again while preparing for drive. Needing Leopard for my new arrivals yesterday we set off searching around camp itself, checking all her favourite spots! The downside of the rain is that the ground becomes very hard as it dries out and thus more difficult to pick up tracks. We drove circles around the camp and not only did we not find Kuhanya but we found no sign of her at all, not even something we could accidentaly mistake for her either. Foolishly thinking that she may have drifted a little further from camp we to spread our search to the surrounding areas. By the time we reached Sohobele Dam and having driven every road in and around Argyle Dam we resigned to the fact that she only wanted to be found by a male Leopard and not us.

Chad and Herold had headed straight South as they were after baby Hyena and Zebra respectively. Chad found some Zebra along his way which Herold promtly responded to. Having limited success at the den Chad continued to check the surrounding area hoping to get lucky with a large breeding herd of Buffalo that had been seen there the previous evening. Picking up the tracks heading to the West, Chad thought it was only a matter of time before locating them. As he approached Entrance Dam he also picked up on Lion tracks that were following behind. This is where things became awfully frustrating as from this point the tracks for the Buffalo went in all directions with them also walking back and forth criss-crossing their own tracks. Clearly they must have know of the Lions presence. Hearing the frustration in Chad's voice we decided to head into the area to give him a hand. While he concentrated on the Buffalo tracks we decided to follow up on the Lion tracks hoping they would walk a more direct route. With time running out for Chad and his guest he eventually had to leave the area for their early checkout. It was while following up on the Lion tracks that we could hear Lions roaring to the South. This did not make any sense as the tracks were heading to the North East. Contacting the stations in the South they started to check up around the area that we thought the calls originated from. It was not long before they picked up on the tracks for the Machaton Pride heading to the South. Knowing that the Mafikizolo Pride had also been in the area and the tracks looking very similar to theirs we continued to follow up. If the Buffalo tracks had not frustrated Chad enough they threw him one more curve ball on the way home with him finding fresh tracks heading back to the East. Hearing him call it in you could have sworn that if he never saw another Buffalo track he would be quiet happy. With the Buffalo still in the area we knew the Mafikizolo's would not be far behind and Jacky, Andrea and Daniel continued to track on foot while I popped off to visit two male Rhinos that had been found not far away. Having had a good sighting of these fast becoming very relaxed and reliable Rhino we headed off for a coffee break.

This was also to act as a strategical stop as the Lions we had been following up on had also now begun to call and we were hoping to position ourselves in a spot that would help us locate their whereabouts. As is natures way coffee came and went in silence and we were left none the wiser. It did not take long for our fortune to change though as Giyani picked up on the Buffalo herd. Having spent the morning listening to the wildlife rather than see it we decided pay them a visit on our way home as our time had run out. This pride has certainly had the better of us on to many of occasions and we are going to have to start to level the scores. With the Buffalo going to rest we are sure the Lions are not far behind and maybe this afternoon we gain one back.

Afternoon drive started with a lot of promise as both Shadrack and I returned from our walks having had quite the adventure. I had a close encounter with two Dagha Boys, not something you usually approach but with all the conditions suiting us and being in a very safe spot we were able to view them from a koppie, small rocky outcrop, as they went about mud bathing and then feeding. Shadrack took it one better as he found tracks for Leopard which he followed up on and found a Steenbok hoisted into a Marula Tree, unfortunately no Leopard. He did however continue to track and found tracks for a female that now joined the male. So it looks like Kuhanya found her man.

We also received a message from one of our Northern properties caretakers that if we were struggling for Lion he had found two Maghlatini Males sleeping on a dam wall. Having not had any luck with our Lions from the morning and the daunting thought of spending the entire afternoon once again tracking ghosts we decided to take the chance and head to the North. It had been a relatively cool afternoon so there was every chance that they may have moved from their resting spot. Being an awesome drive anyway whether you see anything or not I looked forward to our adventure North, so much so that we headed straight there and left the possible Leopard sighting for the others to follow up on.

Along the way we received news that the Leopards were not around and that the kill had been dislodged from the tree. We think an Eagle or two may have discovered it and dislodged it from its spot. We were in for a double treat as along our way North we bumped into a massive bull Elephant, one of the biggest I've seen in a while. He was completely relaxed and totally ignored us as we sat in awe a couple of metres under him. I was so transfixed that I even forgot to take a picture but being that close to this colossal giant even he would not have fitted into my picture frame. Spending a good half hour with him we finally said our goodbyes as we still had some way to go.

A couple of other Motswari stations had gone ahead and as we approached the North East corner we received the good news that they had relocated the two Maghlatini Males. Happy that they were still there we headed in their direction but the North had another surprise for us as the third male was to be heard a few hundred metres away and when the guys visited him they found he was not alone but with one of the older Jacaranda Females. This good explain why his brother was limping and had fresh wounds around his mouth, they had been fighting over breeding rights. We first visited the two brothers who were sleeping on the back of a dam wall. They were not that active and it looked like the fight for the female had drained all their energy as they barely lifted their head during our visit.  

Hearing the other two grunting and growling we decided to leave the boys to their sleep and visit the honeymoon couple. Arriving at the site we found the two of them sitting in amongst a thicket but at least they were heads up and attentive. Johannes had mentioned that they had just mated before our arrival so we knew we were in for a fifteen minute wait. Nearly to the second the female stood and walked a short distance behind a couple of trees, obviously wanting a little privacy, and presented herself to the male. He duly obliged and although we could not see them clearly we could certainly hear them with there load grunts and growls. Having been privy to this very special sighting we headed off for sundowners leaving the honeymoon couple to their privacy.

The trip home was uneventful and we did not see much, this would be partly due to the fact that we all had our eyes closed the whole way home as the recent rains had brought on the immergance of every Flying Ant “ in the world.” The sky was thick with wings and little termite bodies that not even the spotlight could penetrate at some points. If one had opened their mouth during the trip home their would have been no need for dinner! 

I've added the pic's below from a previous trip a couple of days prior to this last visit. They now seem very settled up here in the North and the caretaker told me that they spend a great deal of time on the property.


  1. Thanks for the update Grant, and welcome back to blogging duties. Some great pics from the male lions.

    Hopefully new lion and leopard cubs in the not too distant future :-)


  2. Thanks Grant, we will look forward to your blogging just as much.
    Sue and John

  3. thanks too for bird pics

    Pic of the Day is great

  4. Hey i was so sad when Chad mentioned he would be off for a few weeks, assuming that their would be no blog till his return. I was thrilled to find out that you were filling in for him, allowing all us who visit daily or close enough to, to get our fix of these amazing animals. Thank you for sharing your experience with us as well! Do u know if the lone white female ever found her group and if so are they looking better? quite concerned for all of them! Thanks