Friday, 13 January 2012

11th January: White Lion Walks Through Motswari Camp.

Pic of the Day.

Morning Drive.

(Grant, Chad, Herold & Shadrack.)

Lion ( 2 x Maghlatini Males) / DeLuca – Drongo Drive.
Lion ( Jacaranda Pride: 2 x Females & 3 x Sub Adults) / Argyle – Straight Rd.
Lion ( White Timbavati Female) / Peru – Xinzele Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / DeLuca – Drongo Drive.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Sohobele Dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Argyle – Mfene Crossing.
Leopard ( Argyle Jnr Female) / Argyle – Mangova Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Herold, Shadrack, Johannes & Andrea.)

Lion ( 2 x Maghlatini's Males) / Deluca – Drongo Drive.
Lion ( White Timbavati Female) / Peru – Long Rd.
Leopard ( Ximungwe Female) / Argyle – Peru Entrance.
Leopard ( Kuhanya Female) / Motswari – Sharalumi Access.
Rhino ( 2 x Males)
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Xikhovanian North.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Pan Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Peru – Mvubu Crossing.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Sharalumi Crossing.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Woza Woza Cutline.

Daily Synopsis.

Greetings to all it's Grant here. I'll be maintaining the blog for the next week while Chad is away. Enjoy the break and a big thank you for all the great sightings, stories and pictures over the past month!

My morning started off a little earlier than usual with John, our night watchman, whispering at my window, “ Grant, Grant! ” I guess when a gentle giant whispers it's still enough to wake one. John had not come to wake me in a while so immediately I knew he had something exciting. Flying out of bed grabbing a shirt and flops simultaneously I made my way out into the damp, dark morning. We had received gentle rain since midnight and it looked as if it had just let up. John led me towards the verandah where his surprise was given away by the distinctive contact call of Lion. Not to have his thunder stolen John proceeded to tell me it was the White Lion as he had found tracks for her walking down the path in camp. Initially he thought it was a large male Leopard it was only when he rounded the corner to the verandah area that he saw her standing in the riverbed. She slowly made her way backwards and forwards sniffing the entire area while contact calling the entire time clearing trying to locate on the rest of the pride. When I arrived she had moved out the riverbed and we could not see her on the opposite dark, thickly vegetated riverbank but we could hear that she was still literally the other side of the bushes as she once again walked backwards and forwards calling softly. We both sat there a while hoping that she would make her way back into the riverbed slowly but surely her calls headed further and further North. We could also hear in the distant South the calls of other Lions and maybe it is them that she is looking for.

With so much excitement before drive we were all very keen and eager to get out there and piece together the puzzle. Between the four of us we divided up the area around camp and all had our areas to check. Within minutes we were the first to find tracks that were after the rain, this was however complicated by the fact so had everyone else. It would have not been a problem had they been heading in the same direction but the fact that they were heading in all different directions and were of varying sizes and composition we immediately knew we were looking at more than one pride, the puzzle just became more difficult. At one point we had tracks on top of tracks that were heading in opposite directions and were of different sizes. If that was not enough there was a herd of fresh Buffalo tracks in the area as well, which all the Lions seemed to ignore. Let the games begin!

While we continued to check North of the camp, Shadrack began following up on tracks for two males and thankfully it was not long before he located the two Maghlatini Males a little East of camp heading to the North East. One piece of the puzzle down, a little unexpected but we should know by now that when the White Lions appear so do the Maghlatini's. While the guys followed them we continued to check for the piece of the puzzle that we knew was in the area but had now somehow disappeared without a trace. With the Maghlatini's heading into some thick Mopane and living up to their names we popped in a quick visit before they settled into the very thick vegetation.

While we viewed them the guys took over looking for the White Lion. On both occasions it was Shadrack who found first tracks for a pride of Lion and then for an individual female. While he concentrated his efforts on the lone female Chad and Herold began following up on the pride. Once again the tracks led us in all directions often crossing one another but luckily heading in the same general direction. After our visit with the Maghlatini's we decided to check the periphery of the area to see if we could speed things along but not finding anything we knew we were close and it would only be a matter of time. 

Unfortunately Chad had to head back to camp for an early check out and on his way back to camp he mentioned the moment he closed down we would find what we were looking for, he could not have been more right! With him closing down, we were checking a road South of where Shadrack was heading in the general direction of on foot and we found our lone White Female lying next to the road. Again she like the Maghlatini's was not in the ideal photographic position but for viewing it was near perfect. She looks in great condition and although it would appear she had herself a eventful night she showed no signs of it and was awfully calm and relaxed. While we spent some QT with her, Herold continued to follow up on the pride determined to find the last piece of the puzzle and thus solve it.

As is Herolds way when following tracks it never takes him long to succeed and we received a call letting us know that he had found the Jacaranda Pride, which the White Lion has been associating with over the past couple of weeks, about two kilometres to the North of her position. It now confirms our suspicions that it is actually the older females and their young that need the White Lion more than she needs them and that in fact it is them that are following her and not the other way around. After our visit with the White Lion we popped in at The Jacaranda Pride to complete the picture for our guests and give them a little insight to the very complicated Lion dynamics we have going here in the Northern Timbavati at the moment. Throw in the fact that we had the White Lion's sister and cousin a couple days ago and things could become very,very interesting. It must be the closest they have come to one another in a while and although we don't know what has come of the other two over the last days we are all secretly hoping that they are still in the area and that they are able to locate one another. One can dream they reunite and join with the Jacaranda's, stranger things have happened and you never know what the bush will deliver next! Lets see what happens on afternoon drive.

Our top priority for afternoon drive was to find Leopard closely followed by a breeding herd of Elephant and if time allowed a couple of Warthog would do nicely. With many of the guys receiving new guests they would all be trying to relocate on the buffet of Lion we had in the morning as they were more to the East we had the West to ourselves. Drive started under extremely uncomfortable conditions as the sun had broken through and turned our little paradise into a sauna. We headed for the waters of the Tsharalumi River, which by the way has started to flow again after last nights good rains, hoping to get lucky with Crocodile and Hippo. Even they were feeling the heat and took shelter out of sight, so the first part of our drive was to be quiet.

With a sighting of an unknown female Leopard not far from us we took a chance in responding. This seemed to ignite the afternoon and suddenly the radio came alive with sightings all over the North. Not knowing the Leopard the guys kept their distance for fear of disturbing her and loosing the sighting for others. As we were close we got to get in the sighting almost immediately and also kept our distance while trying to id her. Slowly but surely we would make our way closer and from the fifty metres we started at we eventually found ourselves at twenty metres with her paying us no attention at all. She was clearly also suffering the heat and did not want to give up the coolness of her Marula Tree. We sat with her for about thirty minutes waiting for the next stationn to arrive and inthatat time we think we have identified her as Ximungwe, Argyle Jnrs female cub from last year, we do stand to be corrected though.

With our prime objective in the bag we could relax and take the afternoon as it came. Hearing about a nearby herd of Elephant everything was seemingly falling into place. Making our way slowly in their direction we found ourselves a nice breeding herd of Buffalo which were heading to the East towards the Tsharalumi River for their afternoon drink. With them entering into a very thickly vegetated drainage line we left them to be on their way while we turned our attention to bigger things. 

Arriving in the area the herd had been left we found they had not moved much and they were very slowly feeding in a Northerly direction. With it being a nice open area we could see it was a very large herd with a lot of small and adolescent youngsters which makes spending time with even more special. With the afternoons golden light being perfect and all the little one's being in a playful mood we sat with the herd for the rest of our afternoon as they fed about the vehicle often coming within metres of the vehicle. While mom's totally ignored us there were a few young individuals that included us in their afternoons antics and would run at the vehicle with their ears spread wide and a determined look in their eyes. As they got closer to the vehicle though and we began to tower over them they lost their nerve and would turn and run to mom's side. After a couple minutes they would regain their confidence and go through it all again. How could you not love these animals and I think the time we spent with them won the hearts of all our guests and a spot as their favourite animal. Personally it was one of the best encounters I've ever had and endeared them to me even more, if that were possible!

The only hard thing left to do now was to match our sundowner spot to the unbelievable afternoon we had, had. We first chose Mbali Dam Wall but with the overflow flowing and a herd of Buffalo a hundred strong drinking from the dam this unfortunately was not possible so we continued South down the river and took our drinks on the rocks below Giraffe Kill Lookout along the Tsharalumi River. With the sun setting down the river to our right and the Hippo's calling off to our left we could have not asked for a better spot.

Reminiscing about the days many highlights we eventually headed back to camp where one more surprise lay in store. During dinner my guests and I snuck out after being tipped off by John that the White Lion had returned to camp. Sure enough as we stood on the lawn in front of the verandah we could hear her calling to the North of camp. With the calls becoming progressively louder she was heading our way and after a short while she popped out directly opposite us. She then turned to the East and walked along the opposite bank to the dam wall where she sat and continued to call. It was as if the camps presence comforted her while she called for her missing sister and cousin, clearing missing them terribly. Lets hope tomorrow brings them closer to reuniting!


  1. WOW what a fantastic day Grant. How lucky the guests at Motdwari are ,All the pics are great .Thanks for keeping us informed about the White lions. Let"s hope they find each other without any trouble from the Maghlatini Males. I will be keen to read your next report and hopefully some pics of them re-united. I would love to see that.You do have the best job.

    Jen from Australia

  2. Welcome back Grant... Thanks for the great update once again. Some great photos from you as well.
    I hope the white lioness finds her sister and cousin soon, I think everyone will be extremely happy to see that. Thanks for keeping us posted.


  3. What an exciting day!
    Thanks so much for this blog Grant, and so pleased your guests are having such a good time.

    I took a beautiful video clip of the two white lions and their tawny cousin while with you so they really feel like friends! Greetings to you all, how can we forget Nightwatchman John's 'knock knock who's there' on the door at 5am?

    Sue and John