Thursday, 1 December 2011

30th November: Lions At Last!

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack & Chris.)

Lions ( 3 x Males & 1 x Female) / Peru – Voeldam.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Mbali – Western Cutline.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Mbali – Mbali Dam.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant & Shadrack.)

Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Mbali – Aardvark Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / JayDee – Argyle Rd.
Lion ( Mafikizolo's: 2 x Males & 1 x Female.) / Peru – Voeldam.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / JayDee – Khona Bobesi.
Leopard ( Klakiso's 2: 2 Son) / Java – Buffalo Kill.
Daily Synopsis.

Waking to Lions roaring close to camp at around three I was half tempted to wake my guests and set off looking for them there and then as you never know where they would be in the next two and a half hours when drive was expected to leave. With our current drought for the King of the Jungle I'm sure nobody would have minded. Needless to say I did not exactly sleep that well from that moment on. When drive finally came around we had a plan set in place that all three of us had the area covered. While I checked to the North of camp, Shadrack checked North East and Chris covered the East. This after checking up on where Kuhanya had been the previous evening with her kill. Instead of any sign of her there was only lots of tracks for Hyena clearly they must have disposed her of her meal sometime during the night. Getting back to the matter at hand I thought it only a matter of time before we found something that we could follow up on but as time passed there was an eerie silence about the radio. With all of us having checked our respective areas and finding nothing maybe I had dreamt the whole thing. If John hadn't confirmed it though at morning coffee I would have apologised to all the guys for wasting their time.

With the prospect of finding Lion taken away it looked like we were in for another long morning as during our search we had seen little else. Hearing that nobody was checking the West I was on my way to the area when as if resuscitated from the dead the radio came alive with a message that there was a Lion sitting on our North Western Boundary. Before I had a chance to reconfirm that I was hearing correctly news came through that there were in fact three male Lions and one female sitting metres away from our traversing border. I automatically responded and had the car heading in their direction before asking any details and it was only after the surprise wore off that I inquired which Lions they were and if it was not the Mafikizolo's? If it was, the chance of seeing them was less than zero and I was getting all excited for nothing. Driving a little faster than I like to conduct my game drive at we arrived at the sight.

Hello, And Who Are You?

True enough there sat a beautiful male on the dam wall and three others in the nearby Mopane shrub North of the dam wall. They seemed unperturbed by all the attention and barely glanced at the vehicles. The one male seemed more intent in chasing off another younger looking male although it did not look malicious more playful actually. They thankfully chased one another around to the East and soon the other two followed allowing us a great view of all the pride members. I've never seen these Lions before and it would appear that the three males are of different age. They look to be the same age or a little bit older than the Sohobele's but not as big as the Maghlatini's. Two of them could possibly be brothers and the other a cousin. The female looked younger and maybe the sister of the younger male. As I said this is all speculative as I have no idea who they are or where they come from. The great thing though was that they were with us now! As you can imagine they drew a lot of attention and with them being so close to the boundary we worked quickly through the sighting so that everyone got a turn in seeing them for fear of them crossing over again. As it turns out we needn't have worried as a station that was a late starter managed to see them late into the morning as they had gone to sleep around the dam.

As much as we have struggled with our regular Lions and the actual Lion dynamics that we have presently in our traversing area this is what makes working in an open system the best. It's the total unexpectedness of the bush which delivers up surprises just as you think you have a handle on everything. Lets see what happens here they may be around for afternoon drive or it was a one time visit and they will magically disappear like they had arrived.

Finding the Lion seemed to change the whole tempo of the bush and we had ourselves a very productive morning from there on in with us finding nice Giraffe, Zebra, Waterbuck, Hippo, Crocodile and Buffalo to mention but a few. Lets see what happens this afternoon.

Oh forgot to mention that during all of this Lion excitement Kuhanya popped in at the lodge for a visit and the guys could see her walking on the opposite bank of the river from the breakfast area.

Starting drive under very warm conditions we prepared ourselves for a slow beginning and we were initially undecided in where to go and what to look for. We settled on a quick loop around Motswari check if we could not get lucky with Kuhanya who seems to be hanging around the lodge again. Not finding any trace of her we set off towards Sohobele Dam remembering that rack had seen breeding herd of Buffalo on morning drive in the area and with it getting as hot as it had they would be at either Sohobele Dam or Mbali Dam. Not finding themm at Sohobele Dam we decided to take the long way round to Mbali Dam and just as well we did as we found the Buffalo a little South of the dam heading in its direction.

Having had a good viewing we received news that three of the four Lions were still at Voeldam. Not having seen them for that long this morning and not getting a good viewing we decided to head in their direction. This time round they were lying out in the open and we immediately recognised them as the Mafikizolo Pride, I guess that mystery did not take long to solve! The question still lies though. Who was the large male that was with them? Is he a pride member, and if so why have we never seen him before? Although we could not see him this afternoon it does not mean that he was not there as there were plenty of thickets that he could have been resting up in. With not much else out there we spent a fair amount of time with these now very relaxed Lions. Initially they were all asleep but once the young female woke they all started to rouse and pop their heads up.  

Once they got mobile to the North and into the Mopani scrub we decided to head off to another Dam to complete our afternoon tour of all the major watering spots. This time we headed for Makulu Dam. Along the way we found ourselves a nice Elephant Bull who obviously had beaten us to the Dam and had bathed there as he was wet from head to tail. Earlier on drive we had received the news that the rest of the Mafikizolo Pride had killed a Waterbuck very close to the dam and as we approached we could see all the Vultures collected in the trees. We also found the spot that they killed it and then dragged it off into the very thick reeds of the riverbed, clearly not wanting to be seen. So we respected their wishes and continued on our way for sundowners at the dam.

After sharing drinks with the Hippo's we set off back to the lodge very content with our afternoons finds. There was still a surprise in for us though as Christoph called me on the radio to ask my location, after telling him he said that I must turn around and join him as he had found a very relaxed young male Leopard. Turning around and driving less than two kilometres back on exactly the route I'd just taken we found him with Klakiso's 2: 2 son. He was very preoccupied with following a scent and would inspect every bush in the area and then double back to the one he had just come from and go through the whole procedure again. It is amazing how relaxed this Leopard has become as he hardly acknowledged our presence and walked within metres of the vehicles. It was in a nice open area and provided us with a great sighting of this magnificent youngster and the perfect way to finish off a wonderful afternoon.

I'm not sure how Shadracks drive was as he dropped off the radar and headed off to the far North in search of the elusive White Lions. I'm sure if he had found anything we would have heard. He did however find a very large White Rhino resting in amongst the large trees that surround a dam.

1 comment:

  1. Animals, specially lions, look in great shape. Great pics, nice drive... thanks.