Saturday, 17 December 2011

15th and 16th December – What’s Up with These Lions?

Photo of the Day
Mbali after losing her impala kill to hyena

15th December – Morning Drive
(Shaddy and Herold)
1 x lion (Mahlathini male) – Argyle, Mfene Crossing
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Buffalo Pan
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Illegal Crossing
1 x elephant bull – Jaydee, Makulu Dam

15th December – Afternoon Drive
(Shaddy and Marka)
1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Java, Back of Java
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Trade Entrance Pan
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Argyle Dam

16th December - Morning Drive
(Shaddy, Marka and Herold)
2 x rhino (male rhinos)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Khona Bobesi
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Confluence Crossing
1 x elephant bull – Jaydee, Jaydee Airstrip
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Airstrip

16th December - Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Herold and Marka)
9 x lions (Ross Pride – 1 male, 6 lionesses and 2 cubs on a buffalo kill) – Kings, Double Highway
1 x lion (Old lioness – possibly Mafikizolo or Ross Pride lioness) – Vielmetter, Nyosi River Rd
1 x leopard (Mbali female with impala ram kill) – Java, Java New Airstrip
5 x buffalo bulls – Vielmetter, Double Highway
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Crossing Below Vyeboom
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Nkoro Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Argyle Rd
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Voel Dam
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Argyle Rd

Daily Synopsis
So eventually, after a month’s absence, I was back on drive and out and about in the bush!  What a great feeling, and what a great drive to welcome me back!  I was taking out a group from Ingwelala, so had a nice relaxed afternoon; they asked to see Vyeboom Dam, so we angled that way, ticking off impalas, kudu  and warthogs on the way.
At the dam, we found a herd of elephants in the riverbed below the dam wall, as well as some hippos and waterbuck at the dam.

Elephant herd and hippo and martial eagle (last two images from 13th December)

Carrying on south to respond to a kind invite from Kings to go and see some lions south of Double Highway, we headed in that direction.  The game was relatively good; impalas, giraffe, a couple of lone elephant bulls and nice birds as we approached the lions.
The lions happened to be the Ross Pride – 9 lions in total, but what a mixed bag of lions as they lazed around their fresh buffalo kill!  The beautiful male and three large , fat-bellied lionesses were a stark contrast to three extremely skinny and emaciated lionesses that could barely muster the energy to feed – the two cubs were not much better?  Not knowing this pride all that well (I last saw them over two years ago!), I can’t attribute their condition to anything with certainty, but it doesn’t look good, and a good bet would be on TB infections?

Ross Pride on a buffalo kill
Leaving them feeding, we headed over towards where Johannes had found Mbali leopardess with an impala kill in the morning – on the way we found a herd of buffalo bulls (no doubt missing one member!) and not far off, another extremely sickly looking lioness that that we barely stopped for.  We ticked off steenbuck, impala, dwarf mongooses, zebra and a herd of wildebeest before arriving to find Mbali fast asleep near her kill.

Buffalo bull (taken 13th December) and another sickly lioness!
Fortunately for us, but sadly for her, she soon woke up, but that was only because the Rockfig hyena clan’s matriarch came running in and stole the large impala ram kill off her!  The hyena immediate set about gorging herself while Mbali retired to a nearby termite mound to sleep of her still-fat belly.


Mbali moving off as a hyena arrives to steal her kill
We watched the hyena before going to have a look at Mbali for a short period before ourselves making way to go have a drink as a beautiful African day drew to a close.

Mbali watching as the hyena eats her hard-earned kill
Petros delivered on his promise to find a chameleon, but we saw little else after dark – still, I’m sure you will all agree it was a great welcome back to the Timbavati for me!  I hope the rest of the cycle is as good!


  1. The last pic ... Superb !!!
    Well done :)


  2. So sad to see beautiful animals in this must be heartbreaking for you to see this. The leopard pics are fab. Keep up the good work.looking forward to some news on the white lions
    Thanks for sharing
    Jen from Australia.