Monday, 12 December 2011

11th December: The Return Of The Gentle Giants!

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant & Shadrack.)

Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Motswari Northern Access.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Mbali – Moenie Jag Crossing.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / DeLuca – Mpela Mpela Pan.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / DeLuca – Nyati Dam.
Lion ( Mafikizolo Male) / Vielmieter – Mangawaan Rd.
Rhino ( Female & Sub Adult)

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd West.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd West.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Horizon Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Mvubu Crossing.
Wilddog ( 10 x pack) / Peru – Lion Pan.

Daily Synopsis.

Once again waking to low thick lying clouds and a slight drizzle did not fill us with confidence that we would fulfill our mornings missions. Having found Rhino the previous evening we could concentrate solely on finding Leopard. Shadrack was once again looking for either Lion or Leopard, actually any cat. Having checked the conventional areas the day before it was time we took a chance and headed to the more remote regions and see if we could find a little magic. Our drive got off to a steady start with us finding Buffalo and Wildebeest very close to camp. We then found ourselves two different groups of Elephant Bulls who were very relaxed with us and went about there feeding and sand/ mud bath within metres of the vehicle. 

With time not on our side we watched only for a short while before getting back to the mission at hand. Steadily drifting through the North East we were hoping to get lucky with Kuhanya who had last been seen in this area a couple of days prior. Not finding any sign for her our drive took on a rather quiet period as we made our way through the open plains in the East. We did however find ourselves two nice grassland birds in the forms of a Black- Bellied Korhaan and a Kori Bustard. 

This was followed by a nice sighting of a herd of Zebra, who appear to have become as scarce as Leopard theses days. With us not having much luck in the East we turned and headed back to the West with the intention of checking the Central Northern sections but when a large male Lion was found in the South the temptation was to great to pass up. 

True to our current form we were once again on the opposite side of where we needed to be. Considering the weather the morning had a constant stream of sightings with big game dominating, as three different Rhino sightings were established and a number of Buffalo Males were scattered throughout the reserve. We also found a breeding herd of Buffalo on our way back to camp.

Nearing the Lion we heard that he was not that relaxed and was constantly on the move North. Visual of him was lost a number of times and I had this sneaky suspicion that after travelling all the way South we would miss out at the last moment. Lucky for us the guys did a good job in following him and kept their distance which seemed to relax him and he soon slowed and eventually found a spot to rest. Not totally won over by our presence he chose a rather thick area of vegetation to lie down. We respected his space and viewed him from afar, not fantastic for photography but great to see a large wild young male Lion. We suspect it was the same male that was with the Mafikizolo's a week or so ago when they were at Voeldam, but I'll need to check my photos to confirm. With him getting mobile once again we took our last look and then let him go with only one vehicle following him as not to put to much pressure on him.

During the course of the morning we picked up on a number of tracks for Leopard unfortunately most of them were not that fresh and the one's that were headed into area's we couldn't. It was as if they were taunting us the whole morning. I'm sure this afternoon we will find a few unfortunately that is to late for my guests that check out this morning.

With the Vervet Monkeys alarm calling during the afternoon we knew there must be a Leopard around so setting off on afternoon drive we thoroughly checked the immediate areas around the lodge and then for good measure we checked them once more. Unfortunately this was to no avail and running out of places to look we were forced to broaden our search area. 

Planning to stay in the North we began by checking all the dams which quickly rewarded us with our first breeding herd of Elephant. This was as good as finding Leopard as it has been far longer since we have seen our last herd of Elephant which must be over a week now! We were not the only ones to find Elephant this afternoon and by the end of play a total of four different herds had been found, amazing how we can go so long without any and then in one afternoon they all magically appear. Its great to have them back and lets hope they stick around! 

Having checked all the dams we then decided to head down the Tsharalumi River hoping to find one of our newer Leopards that have been attracted by this prime habitat. Instead of finding our spotted friends though another surprise lay in wait in the form of Wilddog who we found resting at one of the newly formed pans. Our timing could not have been better as we arrived as they began to rouse themselves from their afternoon nap and ready themselves for the evening hunt. We watched as they went about socialising at first and then set off on the hunt. With the sighting not drawing to much attention we were able to to follow them until sunset. In the time we were with them they did not flush anything which is most probably a good things as the area we were driving in was not conducive to chasing after dogs at full speed. We eventually left them as they spread out on a front and headed into a very thick stand of Mopane. 


With a great spot nearby for drinks we stopped for sundowners but as we set up the drinks we received a message that a Leopard had been calling in camp and Herold who had the afternoon off was going to try locate it for us. Within a couple of minutes Herold contacted us to let us know that he had Kuhanya if we were interested. Quickly packing up again we headed off towards camp, full speed. As we approached the Motswari Airstrip we received the news from Johannes that they had lost her as she went about first hunting some Impala and then changing her mind and running off after a Duiker. There were three of us in the area that once again checked nearly every possible place that she could have got to but came up empty handed. She had eluded us once more! The only positive thing that we could take from it was being so close to camp at least we were not late back to camp for a change. I think the kitchen may have had something to do with this and it's currently under investigation!


  1. LOL, lovely piece Grant!
    Pity you did not get to see Kuhanya, but it was still a great day.
    Thanks for the updates.


  2. Grant and Jacky,

    We're really thankful you tried so hard to find us a leopard, but I think we weren't that lucky this time. Actually, you won't believe that we did see one... but on the way to the airport!
    Anyway, despite the weather, we really enjoyed our first game drives! Thank you!

    Marcio and Maria