Sunday, 25 December 2011

24th December: A White Christmas!

Pic of the Day!

Morning Drive.

( Chad, Herold, Petros & Grant.)

Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Peru Cutline.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Argyle – Argyle Dam Lookout.

Afternoon Drive.

( Herold, Petros & Grant.)

Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Argyle – Long Road.
Lion ( 1 x Timbavati Female ( White), 2 x Jacaranda Females & 3 Sub Adults.) / Argyle – Western Sohobele)
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Sohobele Plains.

Daily Synopsis.

Hi folks, Grant here, thought I'd make a guest appearance and write today's blog as Chad did not make it out on drive this afternoon.

Firstly though, I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a day filled with lots of joy and happiness shared with family, friends and loved ones!

So waking to less than ideal weather conditions with the clouds hanging low and bands of rain falling in intermittent waves, Chad and I set off on our guests last drive still needing to find Lion. Over the past three days we had showed them some incredible sightings and things would be wrapped up very nicely if our Lions played along and came to the party. Having to be back at camp for early check out did not make things any easier but we did have some positive news in that our Northern neighbours had a pride of six Lions heading South towards our boundary and John, our night watchman, had heard Lions roaring during the night which he thought may still be on Ingwelala. With nothing to lose we headed off to check our North Eastern boundary while Chad headed off to check the North West boundary. By the lack of noise on the radio and the fact that most of the stations in the South came on drive shortly followed by closing down did not bode well and we soon found out why as the waves of rain intensified and became a more permanent feature. Both Chad and myself had no luck, not even finding anything that we could mistake for Lion being present and with us getting wetter and wetter by the minute we chose to head back to the lodge. I guess it was not meant to be.

Starting out on afternoon drive under drier conditions we held hope that things would have improved, truth be told though, they could not have got any worse. At least with all new guests everything was new and exciting so we could stop and chat about everything we saw. Jacky and I had decided to check around Motswari looking for Kuhanya as one of the new guests that had arrived during the day had seen her lying on some rocks not far from camp. Checking the surrounding areas we found nothing and it was if she had disappeared into thin area leaving us with no trace. Having scoured the area we were forced to move on to Argyle and Sohobele Dams hoping to pick up on the wide variety of general game that has been frequenting the area lately. Whilst on our way we received a message from Pete notifying us of Lion tracks not far from Argyle Dam. Knowing the struggle we have in seeing Lion at the moment we jumped at the chance to actually follow up on tracks, all be it that they were old and very near our Northern boundary, heading North. Before arriving at where Pete had found the tracks we stumbled on more tracks further to the North. Checking the tracks we knew they were relatively fresh as they had walked after the rain our only concern now was the direction they were heading in and the closeness of our Northern boundary. Getting Jacky onto foot immediately it was not long before he was joined by Difference and Petro as all of us knew that we needed to work quickly on this one. While they followed up on foot, myself, Herold, Christoff and Petros checked the surrounding area. I found where they had continued to the North and where they had lay down in the road to rest. It was not far from where we had just seen a group of Dagha Boys in the Sohobele Riverbed. 

From the tracks size and number it looked like we were looking at a few Lions of different ages and sex. This made us immediately assume it was the Mafikizolo Pride and with us fast approaching our border we did not hold out much hope in finding them. Once the trackers had caught up to where I was they continued on foot while I headed off to check the road along the Northern Boundary. Driving it extremely slowly checking and double checking every little imprint I found nothing that indicated that they had crossed but the road is very rocky and they could have easily have crossed on one of these patches and I would never have known. While looping back to the South to check on a road that ran parallel to the boundary I received a whispered message from Jacky that they had found them. Being on the road that they had been found it took me less than two minutes to get to the trackers who had all collected on the side of the road. With Jacky jumping on he directed me into the block to show me where they had found them sleeping in a clearing. Apparently the trackers had lost the tracks in the block and were circling around trying to relocate them when they walked into the pride. Unperturbed the Lions merely lifted their heads and watched as the trackers came to realise they were standing in amongst them. They slowly retreated with the Lions still just watching them as they went. This now had me intrigued as if it had been the Mafikizolo's they would have long been over the boundary to the North. So who was it, I asked Jacky? As usual and as cool as a cucumber he said, “ Kubasa!” I could not believe what I heard but true enough there in front of us was our lone White Female! With a wry smile on his face Jacky pointed out that she was no longer alone but had in fact joined up with her two aunts and their three sub adults. This was all a little to much to take in and I could not believe my eyes as the last time I saw her she looked like she was nearly knocking on deaths door, frail, emancipated and wandering around alone but here she now stood looking strong, confident and surrounded by family! It had been a very long time since I'd seen her looking this good! As we settled in and the more nervous cousins became accustomed to our presence they began to show themselves and the six of them came together for a bit of a bonding session before slowly getting mobile towards Motswari's airstrip. I last saw this side of the family over a year ago when the family consisted of the two adult females and four cubs, who were no older than three months old. The one female had not changed as she was carrying a nasty injury she picked up from a Buffalo hunt the last time and again on this occasion she had a gaping wound on her thigh. The cubs, two females and a male, are now minus one but they all looked good and a far cry from the small vulnerable cubs I once remember.

We unfortunately could not spend the entire afternoon with them as you can imagine the attention they drew and we eventually had to leave them so others could enjoy this extremely special sighting. The rest of my afternoon was a blur as all I could think about was how great our White Lion looked and how fantastic it was that she had finally joined up with a distant part of her pride. It filled me with more hope for her survival and is quite easily the best sighting I've seen this year! Now if only her sister and cousin could find there way to them. They are not that far off as I received news from Leanne that the two of them were seen on a farm called Dundee a couple of days back. They both appear to be in good health although it was mentioned that the young male was looking a little lean.

We later received news that the pride had crossed Motswari and had continued to the North East. It would appear they popped in for a quick visit and are now on their way home. Personally I could not receive a better Christmas gift and who says you can't experience a White Christmas in Africa, you certainly can in the Timbavati!


  1. Hi Grant,
    Thanks for this Special Christmas gift and the great pics. Glad to hear that the white lion is doing so much better and keep my fingers crossed that her sister and brother will be able to join the pride as well soon.
    Merry Xmas and a happy New Year

  2. FANTASTIC GRANT. What a Christmas surprise for all of us. She looks so great . I have been thinking so much about them and hoping for some positive news. Well it doesn't get much better. I imagine you were over the moon when you saw her. So glad she has a pride now and hope the other 2 join up as well. We in Australia have had a great Christmas day and would like to extend our best wishes to all at Motswari and all the Bog readers out there. Enjoy your day.
    Regards and Best Wishes from Jen and Kim from Australia.

  3. This is great news Grant! Thanks so much for posting and keeping us updated. There is not a day that goes by I don't think of them and pray they are still alive. This is the best Christmas present I received today.
    Hope all had a great holiday and peace for the New Year.

  4. What a fantastic Christmas report, thanks Grant!!
    I was in Timbavati in October and saw Kubasa lying under a tree all alone. She was looking a little forlorn,(I will place a pic of her on my Facebook page.)who would have thought that she would link up with her aunts and their siblings? WONDERFUL news!!!!! and she is looking great.
    Please extend my best wishes to all the fantastic people at Timbavati and may 2012 be the best year in the name of conservation and Kubasa.
    Kind regards Marianne

  5. What a fantastic Christmas, I was so concerned after the sohobele battle. Great to see that they are in much better conditions now.