Thursday, 22 December 2011

22nd December – Hot Hot Heat!

Photo of the Day
Makepisi male leopard - still at Lion Pan!

Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant and Herold)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Back of Java
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Umbabat Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Karans, KNP Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Java, Java-Mbali
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Woza-Woza Cutline
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Marula Pan
2 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Lion Pan

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Petros and Herold)
2 x leopards (Makepisi male and his brother) – Peru, Lion Pan
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Camp
1 x leopard (Klakisa female) – Mbali, Mvubu Crossing
2 x rhino (semi-relaxed males)
1 x rhino (relaxed male)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Mbali, Mbali Dam
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Sohebele Plains
1 x buffalo bull – Java, Java Dam
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Camp
3 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Crossing Below Argyle
5 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Mbali River Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Argyle Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Mbali Dam
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Mbali River Rd

Daily Synopsis
As usual, I would like to blame the weather for the quiet drive this morning – and hey, maybe im right?  But it was extremely hot, and rather quiet out there.
My intention had been to go follow up on a herd of buffalos from yesterday (although I did find three buffalo bulls as we left camp), but that didn’t quiet happen and I ran out of time and enthusiasm for it as the heat of the morning pushed on.  Johannes found Makepisi male leopard again, in the same area he has been for the last four days, and as usual, he disappeared down into the riverbed as I drew closer, so I didn’t even bother.
Buffalo bull
Heading past Makulu Dam, we saw hippos, wildebeest, impala and waterbuck, but nothing much to write home about – even after coffee, very little changed, and the only sighting worth noting was that of a nice breeding herd of elephants resting in the shade of some large marula trees on java.  Elsewhere in the morning, only elephants and buffalos appeared, but by the end of drive, the mercury was already in the mid-thirties!

Lone wildebeest and elephant herd resting in the shade
The afternoon didn’t cool off much from the 40 degrees it reached just before lunch, but that made planning our afternoon drives easier – stick to the water...and man, didn’t those plans just work wonders!
I was heading to Argyle Dam at the start of drive when Grant called me with an obvious sightings voice – being so close to camp, I assumed he had Kuhanya...he didn’t, but I still spun the Land Rover around to go and see what he had found resting in a nearby waterhole – a relaxed male white rhino!

Resting rhino
We weren’t sure who this was, or how relaxed he was, but as he spent most the afternoon at the dam, we all got a great view of him!

Cooling off in the mud
Carrying on to Sohebele Dam, we came across the herd of buffalos that had been in the area in the morning as they rested on Sohebele Plains.

Buffalo on Sohebele Plains
Pulling up to the sighting, two rhinos standing in the middle of the herd caught our attention – it was two semi-relaxed males that we got to spend time with as they ambled about in amongst the buffalos!

Rhinos amongst the buffalo herd!
While watching them, Petros found a herd of elephants at Argyle Dam, and Herold found Makepisi male leopard at – and no, you don’t get a point for guessing it – Lion Pan!  The big surprise came in when his brother came to join him at the dam!  What an unbelievable bonus, and looking at Andrea’s photos definitely turned me a shade of green!
I headed in that direction, and as we approached Mbali Dam, we saw impalas, kudus and the found the awesome sight of about 150-200 buffalos at the dam, as well as a herd of elephants!  This was turning into a fantastic afternoon around the dams, and its always so great to have all these different animals in one scene!

Elephant and buffalo herds at Mbali Dam
As it was my turn to go see Makepisi male leopard (his brother had sadly moved off again), I headed along the river towards him, seeing more elephants and buffalo along the way.
Arriving at Lion Pan, this gorgeous male leopard was just resting under a leadwood tree, and after some time got up and walked off (for once, not into the river!); so I used this as a cue to go and join Grant for drinks.

Makepisi male at Lion Pan
After drinks, we headed slowly back to camp – Grant found Klakisa female leopard below Mbali Dam before she disappeared into the thick reeds, while I headed up to Vyeboom Dam – arrive at Buffalo Pan we found two hyenas watching a herd of zebras and impalas, but sadly there was no action after the zebras chased the hyenas off.

Hyenas and zebras at Buffalo Pan
Johannes’s amazing run of leopard form continued (I think he found 6 leopard – 5 different individuals – in his last 6 drives!) when he radioed in Kuhanya resting up a marula tree near Trade Entrance Pan at the camp!
We all planned on stopping in to see her on the way back, but she soon walked into camp and was lost, so the eagle owl, genet and chameleon we saw were part compensation for not seeing her before we closed down!
While having pre-dinner drinks, the camp’s monkey population started alarm calling, and I went out with a few guests and spotted Kuhanya in the riverbed in front of the lodge with the aid of my torch – it wasn't a great sighting, but you could see her in the distance – a great way to end off a fantastic afternoon!
Once more, I’m hoping that pleading for lions tomorrow works, as we need them badly!  On a sad note – or maybe a blessing? – it was confirmed today that the old, extremely skinny lion from the Ross Pride died last night and hyenas were found eating her body far south this morning; she was in such a bad state, that we are all happy her suffering is finally over.


  1. What has happened to the white lions? Are they still alive?

  2. Hello, I am curious about the white lions too?
    Happy Holidays to all of you and thanks for the great posts.

  3. Greetings - firstly sorry for leaving out the last three words of the blog - made it sound like we were happy for the lionesses suffering!!!! meant to say we were happy it was over!

    as for the white lions - they are still alive, but very deep in the adjoining Klaserie, and there has been no sign of the white cub either...that is not to say its dead, as w havent even seen the pride...

    but fear not, any news on the white lions will definitely be posted here first :)

    have a fantastic Christmas and festive season :)