Wednesday, 30 November 2011

29th November: Finally A Feline!

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack & Chris.)

Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Sean's Clearing.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys)
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Western Cutline.
Lion ( 4 x Mafikizolo Females) / JayDee – Enkombi Pan. ( Guide Sighting Only)

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack & Chris.)

Leopard ( Kuhanya) / Motswari – Motswari Dam.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Motswari Camp.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Mangova Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

With four of my guests choosing to sleep in before heading off on their long travelling day the pressure to find Lion was off us for the morning drive, although both Shadrack and Chris were under the gun. Actually I think the rest of the entire reserve was in desperate need of a cat of some sort or another. Not needing Lion did not mean we didn't go out looking for it as if we don't find something soon we will be in exactly the same boat. So we headed off to the North East hoping to get lucky on the boundary where we have heard Lions calling from for the past three nights, maybe this morning would be the morning they had crossed over. Failing that there was always the chance of finding Kuhanya, our resident female Leopard, as it was in a region that she frequents.

Methodically checking the areas to the North we picked up on a lot of the smaller things. Chris however got off to a flyer finding a breeding herd of Buffalo shortly after setting off on drive. He then continued to the South where he wanted to check on the Hyena Den and found himself a breeding herd of Elephant. Maybe we should be following Chris! Having had no luck in the Northern corner we turned to the South and followed up on Chris's Buffalo from earlier. After giving us the run around for a while we eventually found them in a nice clearing and had a good sighting of them and a couple of Giraffe that found themselves in amongst the herd.

I had heard Shadrack was heading to the West but had not heard anything of him since. So we decided to head East after the Buffalo hoping to pick up on general game on the plains around Majavi Dam. On the way Patrick picked up tracks for a female Leopard heading back to the West. Coming from this direction it could only be Kuhanya. The tracks were from early the evening before as a Porcupine had walked over some of them. With it not being worth following up on foot we proceeded to check in the general direction she was heading and keep an eye out on her favourite haunts along the way. Following her usual route we decided to stop for a quick cup of coffee before continuing our search. It was as we stopped I heard the long lost voice of Shadrack come on the radio and announce that he had a visual of four lionesses. Apparently they had also stopped for drinks at Enkombi Pan when he had visited one of the nearby trees to mark his territory and found the Lionesses all asleep under a tree off in the distance. Unfortunately as is with some of the members of the Mafikizolo Pride they are very nervous and when Shadrack returned with the car they were gone. He checked the surrounding area but being on the Western boundary he eventually found tracks for them crossing out into Klaserie and out of our traversing area.

Resuming after coffee we continued our search for just as an elusive cat and shortly before Sohobele Dam we once again found her tracks heading to the North West. We proceeded to check all the areas to the North of this and slowly edged closer and closer to Motswari. With time not being our friend we eventually had to abandon our search as breakfast was waiting. Although we did not find our Leopard I'm sure we will pick her up this afternoon in or around Motswari. It was also nice to see that we have learnt something about this females behaviour over the last two years and we are now able to sometimes anticipate her movement.

Why I ever left camp this afternoon will remain a mystery! Having told everyone at lunch that I could see Kuhanya in my near future we set off once again checking all the area's she likes to frequent. I had this strange feeling we would find Leopard all day and started to question myself as the afternoon wore on as we had not found any sign of any cat, we had actually not found any sign of anything living if truth be told and our afternoon had been one of the little things. By this I mean the “ Little Five” as we had found ourselves a Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, an Ant Lion and a Leopard Tortoise, maybe that was the Leopard I was feeling.

Chris ventured to the West hoping to get lucky with Rhino or maybe even the skittish Lions that Shadrack had seen in the morning. Shadrack joined me in looking in the North but eventually he too drifted to the West to visit a great spot for Hippo. You take what you can get on afternoons like this.

With us having covered every conceivable place that Kuhanya could be we eventually turned towards the Tsharalumi Riverbed hoping to get lucky with one of Klakiso's youngsters. About mid way there I received news from Dave back at the lodge that both the Impala and the Vervet Monkeys were alarm calling to the North West. Being the gentleman that he is he hopped in a vehicle with my late arrivals that had decided not to join us and headed off in search of the source of the commotion. I hesitated when he told me the news as it was a big chance heading all the way back to the area I had just driven flat and forgo my great sundowner spot that I thought may salvage my drive a little. I guess desperate times require desperate measures and I turned the vehicle around and headed back to Motswari as fast as I could. While Dave checked to the West I said we would come in from the East so that we had the whole area covered. It was a little disconcerting as we made our way there as the radio was awfully quiet and I had received no updates from Dave by the time we reached camp. When I contacted him he mentioned that the Monkeys had stopped calling a while ago and that he had found nothing in the West. He thought it may have moved to the North so while he checked that, we checked the East and then swapped, double checking one another. It was during this that a heard the magic words, “ I Ntola,” which means I found! Dave found her in the Riverbed North of Motswari Dam. We had been sitting with a group of Kudu contemplating our next move which that was quickly made for us and we headed off in his direction.  

When we first arrived she was in a difficult spot lying down in the riverbed which did not allow any access but once again luck was on our side as she got up and moved to the West. This allowed us some great views of her as it was in a nice open area North of the camp. She slowly but steadily continued to the West marking her territory as she went. As most of the stations had closed for sundowners we had her all to ourselves. When they finally returned to drive we notified them of our find and said that we would hold her until they got here. We did mention that they must hurry as she was now approaching our boundary with Ingwelala but just short of it she turned to the North appearing to be interested in some nearby Impala, lucky break, but she then turned into a Weeping Wattle and brought out a half eaten baby Impala. Being dark and having her under the light we had to switch off our spots and close the sighting as we do not view Leopards with there kills on the ground after dark as it could attract the attention of the ever present Hyena.

Having finally seen a cat we could retire for a well deserved sununder. I'm sure the guys will follow up first thing in the morning as there appeared to be a fair amount of meat left. Lets hope she doesn't loose it to the Hyena.  


  1. So your foreshadowing didn't fool you! The sighting of gorgeous Kuhanya is a great ending of such a "quiet" day.
    Any news about the white lions?


  2. i have been to motswari twice and your blog is great to let us see whats going on there as a remeber of a great holiday in the bush velt..... need to save a few pennies more to come back again... can you tell me what kind of camera are you using to take those photos.. they are truly brillant and always a joy to read and see your snaps... keep up the excellent blog