Sunday, 5 February 2012

3rd & 4th February – Slowly Getting There!

 Photo of the Day
The mightily impressive Argyle male leopard!

3rd February Morning Drive
No Drive

3rd February Afternoon Drive
10 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 lionesses and 7 sub-adults) – Umlani, Elephant Walk
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Umlani, Marco’s Dam
5 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Northern Access
1 x buffalo bull – Argyle, Peru Entrance

4th February Morning Drive
(Chad and Shadrack)
1 x leopard (Argyle Male) – Vielmetter, Vielmetter-Albert’s Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd West
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Peru Entrance
4 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Wedge River Rd

4th February Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant and Shadrack)
1 x leopard (Machaton Male) – Mbali, Western Cutline
1 x elephant bull - Motswari, Camp Dam

1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Dizzy Drive

Daily Synopsis
I haven’t been slack on posting blogs again, it was just that none of my guests went out on drive yesterday, so I had nothing to write about! 
We did pick up in the afternoon, and Shadrack joined the driving team, but he was out alone, and had a good first drive, albeit a very long one!  As the Machaton Pride had returned to the very southern boundary of our area, Shadrack made the long trip down to Umlani to see them;he also got to see some buffalo bulls along the way, as well as a herd of elephants at Marco’s Dam down south.  He sadly missed out on seeing a leopard there too, but still had a good drive.  It was thus with cruel irony that, after driving so far, our neighbouring land-owner, Jan, found the Jacaranda Pride up here in the north, not far from Buffalo Pan!
Joining Shadrack the next morning, my mission was to follow up on the Jacaranda Pride, and slowly headed into that area, seeing some nice impalas, waterbuck, two different troops of baboons and a host of birds along the way. 
Egyptian goose

Impalas and baboons

Ground hornbills
I left Petros to follow up on the tracks that carried on moving south, and went to do my own thing, but a call notifying us that Argyle male leopard had been found on Vielmetter in the south drew me in that direction instantly!  We didn’t see much on the way down, but I didn’t care, as I got to see my favourite leopard for the first time since Christmas Day!

Welcome back argyle male!
He was looking in splendid condition, fat bellied, but still watching a herd of impalas.

Watching impalas
He stalked up to them using a drainage line for cover, and while we lost sight of him, we knew he was there, and the impalas were slowly moving straight towards him!  I was sure he was going to make a kill, but time was pushing on and we were some distance from camp, and I still needed to go pick up Petros.  I started moving away, but when I saw the impalas crossing the drainage line, I knew we had to wait a bit longer!  Sadly, Argyle male did eventually make a move, but missed the impalas; they moved off, he moved off, and then so could we, knowing that at least we didn’t miss a kill!

Stalking impalas
Petros didn’t have luck with the lions, but Marka found three of the young Mafikizolo Pride members on the tarred Argyle Rd while making his way towards the leopard sighting.  They were on the Klaserie side, and had moved away by the time we got there, so we didn’t have luck in the morning, but decided to try again in the afternoon.

Waterbuck, impala and wildebeest
Grant also returned to drive in the afternoon, so with three of us out, I expected a few more sightings...well, I was wrong!  the afternoon turned out to be an exceptionally frustrating one for me, with very little to write about; starting off with the usual impalas on the airstrip and nice hippos at Argyle Dam, that was about where my drive ended!

Hippos at Argyle Dam
Heading west to follow up on the Jacaranda Pride, Shaddy found tracks that I went to look at, but after scouring the area and coming up empty handed, I thought that I might have more luck with the Mafikizolos on the western boundary; more impalas, waterbuck and a hippo awaited us, but so did undoubtedly the worst road I have ever had the misfortune of driving in my life!  Wild West Rd really lived up to its name, and a 3km stretch of road took us almost half an hour to negotiate, but we made it, and it was an adventure if nothing else! 

Impalas at what was Sohebele Dam, a marabou stork, and Voel Dam washed away
Passing Lily Pan (which was a sight to see, far more water than I ever imagined it could hold, and now with a hippo!) I was informed of an elephant herd about 15 minutes away, so I tried...but as was the story of my afternoon, I couldn’t even find them, despite trying to track them!  The sweet odour of a male elephant indicated that a bull in musthe had come past and chased the herd away, that had until then been happily feeding on marulas in the area. 

A rather poor photo of an impala!!!
Carrying on home, and not wanting to fight any more eroded roads, I used the tar road, hoping to either see the hyenas at the den, or even some lions...I glimpsed a hyena, and that was about as good as my night rive got – impalas, wildebeest and insects occupied the rest of it, and ended what for me was a particularly frustrating afternoon! 
Grant and Shaddy were a bit better off and got to enjoy a massive herd of buffalo in the more central parts of the reserve, as well as the Machaton male leopard on their way home, and it appears as though he is relaxing nicely, and it wont be long before we start getting good sightings of him!


  1. Life and life abundant, how lovely to see nature's restoration. Man built the roads!! hehe

  2. Great that your back up, and running Chad. You Guys must have put a lot of hard work in to get things cleared up. Thanks for some more great photos, the Argyle Male looks in superb condition. Some more good news Motswari Blog has gone into first place by one vote on the Wild About Animals Forums Best Wildlife Blog of the Year 2011. So we need all you Blog followers to vote, and keep it there, you do not have to join the Forum to Vote for Motswari, just click the link, and cast your Vote


  3. Great news Whitestarling,
    This is a great blog, so I hope everyone vote!
    Thanks once again for the update Chad. Argyle male looks great!!! I thought Kuhanya is your favorite, she will show up to show you why you love her so much :-)