Sunday, 25 December 2011

25th December – A Wild (Dog) Christmas Feast!

Photo of the Day
Wild Dog on the hunt

Guides and trackers getting into the Christmas Spirit - from left: Patrick, Herold, Petros, Chad (dont ask about the wig), Jacky and Grant

Morning Drive
(Chad, Petros, Grant and Herold)
10 x wild dogs (killed two impalas and a scrub hare) – Argyle, Leadwood Airstrip
2 x rhinos (Rose and Maria)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Pagati Rd
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Ingwelala Boundary Rd
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Wedge River Rd
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Lover’s Leap
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Airstrip

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Petros and Herold)
10 x wild dogs – Peru, Madash Dam
8 x lions (Ross Pride – 6 lionesses and 2 cubs) – Umlani, Marco’s Dam
1 x leopard (Xinopinopi male with impala kill) – Umlani, Padda Link
1 x leopard (Argyle male) – Kings, Argyle Rd
2 x rhinos (relaxed males)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Lily Pan Rd
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
1 x buffalo bull – Karans, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Back 9’s
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Bush Camp

Daily Synopsis
Ho Ho Ho!  Merry Christmas folks!  I trust that you all enjoyed a wonderful day with your loved ones around the world!  It was a fantastic atmosphere here at Motswari, with red Santa hats being donned by the staff just to add to the festivities, but as always, it was the animals that stole the show!
The Boys!
However, after taking my new guests out on their first drive and not seeing more than a split second glimpse of a steenbuck for the first hour, I wondered what on earth Santa had done with all the animals!  He clearly didn’t get my list!
My quiet patch can be explained as I was on De Luca looking for the white lioness and Jacaranda Pride, but the rocky roads made it impossible to track, so I left the area.  Only at Argyle Dam did I find my first animal; a large elephant bull feeding in the lush green grass before he made his way for a drink at Lover’s Leap.

Elephant bull at Lover's Leap
While watching him, the wild dogs were found at Buffalo Pan – almost a certainty as we had predicted, we were just out by a day, but both Grant and I Knew that they would show up on Christmas!  This obviously drew a load of attention, so I just turned my radio off and enjoyed some of the other animals – which included some lovely impalas on Piva Plains as well as our lone wildebeest there too!

Impala on Piva Plains
After a shorter time than expected, the line up for the wild dogs cleared, so I made my way towards them, and I’m so glad I waited!  Having only caught a scrub hair this morning, the pack were still on the move in the cool, cloudy conditions, and I was the last station so got to follow them for a while.  It paid off!

Wild dogs on the prowl
First they ran off after a waterbuck, but that was too optimistic; they then found an impala ewe and her fawn – the inevitable happened and we arrived to watch the pack ripping in to their own Christmas meal.

Wild dogs with their first baby impala kill
I spent time with them as the adults left the sub-adults to feed, and was driving off when one dog came shooting past, and sure enough, she nabbed another baby impala just behind us; the bleating of the lamb drew in the other dogs and we arrived to watch as the pack all arrived to rip apart their third victim of the morning!  What a fabulous Christmas treat for us!  (a bonus, as I saw a different pack of 5 wild dogs on the main road yesterday when going to the airport, as well as a lion and elephant!!!  Guests also got to see a male lion sleeping on the main road when they drove into the lodge last night!)

Wild dogs and their second impala lamb kill
Elsewhere it was a bit quiet in the north; buffalo bulls, a buffalo herd and two rhinos further south that Herold found.  Kuhanya leopardess came walking through the staff village at about 11am, disturbing the monkeys, but despite looking for her, I failed – a few of the staff did see her though.
In the afternoon, I headed south.  Way south.  But it was well worth the trip!  Starting off, one of my guests jokingly noted that the other guests had seen buffalo, giraffe and zebra in the morning, and we hadn’t...fortunately I could remind her that we had seen wild dogs making two kills, so we were still “winning”!  Still, I now had a mission, and when a lone buffalo bull crossed the road in front of us on the way south, I had one less animal to find.
Buffalo bull
Carrying on past the usual impalas, we ticked off the second animal from the list when we found a  couple of giraffe feeding on Java.  I commented that as we were in the south now, we should see more giraffes due to the vegetation, but didn’t expect to see just as many as we did!
Looking for the third animal on the list, I headed past Hide Dam, but only saw impalas and two black-backed jackals; only after passing Hide Dam did we find a rather nice breeding herd of elephants that we got to spend some time with before departing to carry on with our primary mission.

Elephant herd
Passing Machaton Dam, we saw waterbuck and loads of impalas, and then the giraffes seemed to pop up everywhere, and saw another four herds of giraffe and some kudus before arriving at the most southern point that we can drive; Marco’s Dam.
There we ticked off our third animal from the list in the form of a herd of zebras that we spent time with before going over to the other side of the dam to see the main event of the afternoon.

Waterbuck, giraffe and zebras in the south
This “event” was the Ross Pride, six lionesses and their two cubs were resting not far from the dam, and were looking a bit hungry, but still in a good condition.

Ross Pride resting
While watching, they suddenly jumped up, and I thought that they would be keen to hunt, but they simply moved about 50m before going to rest again – but their grooming and yawning was an indication that it wouldn’t be long before they carried on.

Ross Pride springing into action before resting again
There was however another reason for coming down this way, and that lay about 1km away, so off we headed to see that – this time it was the rather handsome Xinopinopi young male leopard resting up in a tree that also house one of the two baby impalas that he had killed last night!

Xinopinopi male with his impala kill
He was rather full, but sat awake and panting heavily after his Christmas feast.
He eventually stood up and climbed down the tree, and we left him resting in the grass underneath it – sure the hyena that had been there earlier would have chased him back up after we left.

Xinopinopi coming down the tree to rest
We stopped for a drink before making the long trip home, but contrary to our last few night drives, this was a good one – first we had to wait for a herd of giraffes to move off the road, and then Argyle male leopard popped out onto Argyle Rd!  Wonderful to see him again, but very disconcerting to see exactly where he was – well over 20km from his old territory!!!  Seems as though he has now settled there, and will be interesting to see who takes his place in the north!
We also found loads of impalas on the way back, including a herd that had two hyenas watching them.
Closing down at the lodge, and making our way to dinner, I think all the guests were delighted with the game viewing today...and to think that we didn’t see anything in the first hour of the day!!! 
Hope that you all had a great Christmas too J


  1. Wild dog, leopard in the blue light and the team in the Xmas Costumes ! What a beautiful day in the bush!

    Gene & JP

  2. Happy Christmas to all our friends at Motswari.
    Love from Sue and John Robotham

  3. Great pictures - although not sure about the creatures in the red and white hats!!!

    Hoping you all had a very happy christmas

    Best wishes
    Sue and Andy from a rather damp UK

  4. Hi Chad and all at Motswari, hope you had a great Christmas.
    Love the pictures have been looking at the Blog today. Nice to see the dams etc with water and grenney , makes the area look a lot different to when we were there. The pictures bring back so many great memories. We look forward to coming back one day soon.

    All the best
    Les & Karen - UK.

    Chad Karen treasures your 1st book, when we need cheering up - we just get it out book case, and reminise.
    Hope the 2nd is well under way.