Monday, 6 February 2012

5th February – Lions Come Out!

Photo of the Day
Jacaranda lions playing
Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant and Shadrack)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Karans, Old Closed Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Vielmetter Access
1 x elephant bull – Karans, Western Cutline

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Andrea, Grant and Shadrack)
10 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 lionesses and 7 sub-adults) – Umlani, Martial Eagle
5 x lions (Jacaranda Pride – 2 lionesses and 3 sub-adults) – Argyle, Buffalo Pan Clearing
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Northern Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Mfene Crossing
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Argyle Rd
4 x buffalo – Motswari, Camp

Daily Synopsis
The only consoling issue about yesterday afternoons drive was that I knew it couldn’t be much quieter this morning, but for a while, I thought I might be wrong!

View of Drakensberg mountains and some European swallows
Shaddy found some elephant not all that far from camp, but they were in the middle of the block where we were unable to drive off road, so after trying my luck, I left the area, only for Grant to find them on the road 5 minutes later!  I returned, and got to see all of one elephant bull as he pursued the herd back into a mopane thicket, and I started to get worried that this would be the story of my morning.
Elephant bull
Truth be told, it didn’t actually get that much better; we saw only a few impalas, some baboons, a beautiful male kudu and then tried to track down a herd of 400-500 buffalo; surely that cant be too difficult!  Well, I returned to camp without having seen a single buffalo! 

Kudu and baboons
We did find some nice zebras and another small herd of elephants that we spent time with, as well as a few zebra, wildebeest and impalas on Java Airstrip as we headed home, a pair of warthogs that ran off as we drove past, and that was about the sum total of my morning!

Elephant herd and some zebras
The only thing to bring a smile to my face was that Moses from Umlani found the Machaton pride on their property late in the morning and extended an invitation to go and view them in the afternoon, so at least I had a plan of action. 
This plan was slightly modified before afternoon drive when Andrea’s guests got to see Kuhanya resting in a marula tree on their way to the lodge, and Grant also got to see her a short while later.  I thus started off looking for her, but on finding her tracks heading towards the river, I decided to rather push south for the lions, as they were a long, long way away.
Moving south, we picked up impala, kudu and a gorgeous chameleon crossing the road; but it was the news I got after looking at the chameleon that made me smile the most; the Jacaranda Pride had been found in the north, near Buffalo Pan, so the long trip south was no longer necessary!  Grant was committed, so he carried on, and did end up enjoying a sighting of the 10 Machaton lions.
I still pushed a bit further south looking for giraffes, and got to see a herd on Java Airstrip.  While watching them, a hyena also came walking past.  We got to spend more time with them than we bargained for, as the electronics on my rather new Land Rover started playing up, but we got going again and made our way to the lions.

Giraffe herd
After a detour due to a closed road, we arrived, but only found the three sub-adults resting on a small clearing and playing with a piece of wood.  While watching them, yet another lion sighting was radioed-in in front of Vielmetter Camp!  Most likely, it was a Mafikizolo lioness whose tracks we had seen earlier in the morning.

Jacaranda youngsters waiting for their mother's return
Andrea had no sooner left them when she bumped into the two lionesses making their way back to the youngsters, and suggested I stay there.  As it turned out, I didn’t have a choice, as my Land Rover died on me, and I had to sit and watch as the youngsters heard mom’s call and jumped up and ran off to meet her – Andrea was well placed, but I sat and watched nothing...

Running to meet mom!
The pride eventually did come walking past us, and Andrea came to rescue my guests to take them back to camp...then Murphy’s Law, my car started, so I retrieved my guests and made it back to camp safe and sound, and needless to say, sent the vehicle straight to the workshop!
So while it was a frustrating afternoon for me, the guests were still very happy to have seen what they saw, and being the eternal optimists, we keep hoping that things go better tomorrow!


  1. Today your landscape steals the show!!! Utterly gorgeous, more please!!

  2. I miss that view of the Drakensberg Mountains after a sumemr's rain...Thanks for posting!


  3. Hi Chad

    I enjoy reading your blog and following what is happening in the area. Would it be possible to post a map of the area showing names of landmarks (dam names etc), it would help to put everything into perspective.


  4. Chad
    Just enjoy your blog far away in Australia - keep going mate - your writing make me feel I am in the bush