Thursday, 15 March 2012

14th March: I've Been Waiting For This.

Pic Of The Day.

Morning Drive.

( Marka.)

Lion ( Maghlatini Male) / Motswari – Western Cutline.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Motswari Northern Access.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – North of Camp.
Lion ( Maghlatini Male) / Motswari – Western Cutline.

Daily Synopsis.

Greetings all Grant here, back on blogging duties. Big thank you to Andrea for keeping us updated with her wonderful stories and great images, enjoy your well deserved couple days off drive.

So not having driven for a couple of days Jacky and I were both very keen to get out there specially after all the good sightings Marka and Andrea had had. So keen in fact that I actually forgot my camera, so please excuse the lack of pictures! So joining for afternoon drive we set off in search of a herd of Elephant that had drifted through the lodge during lunch. They had come down to the dam in front of the lodge for a drink of water before wading through it and heading off to the East.

It did not take us long to relocate them as they had slowed while feeding on the Mopane on the Western slope of the hill next to camp. It was a small breeding herd that had an unusual number of Bulls in amongst it, one of which was in musth. He was very relaxed though and paid no attention to us what-so-ever, although he did keep the herd on the move. His behaviour indicated to us that he was either at the end or the beginning of his musth cycle and after finding a nasty gash on his rear flank we think he must be coming out of musth after loosing a challenge to another Bull. Sticking with the herd until they walked us through a particularly thick area of Mopane we decided to let them go as we had had a great sighting of these very impressive beasts.

Finding ourselves very close to the region Marka had left the lone Maghlatini Male we decided to head in his direction to follow up. We found where Markadhad driven off road and followed his tracks deep into the block eventually arriving at the spot where we could see the Lion had been sleeping. Operative word being “ had,” as we now found only flattened grass. This was disheartening as it was in the shade and therefore there should have been no reason to leave the area unless he got mobile again in search of his brothers. Hoping off the vehicle both Jacky and I looked around the area for tracks that would give us a direction to start our search. We hadn't been on the ground five minutes, when an almighty growl came from a nearby Weeping Wattle. Now I've always wondered how I would react in the situation as I've never had a real Lion charge on foot, only the occasion run in and interest showed. They say you may think you know how you will react but come the time your true reaction is quickly revealed. As he came flying through the curtain of the Weeping Wattle low, fast and growling and totally fixed on me, time seemed to freeze and everything from that moment happened in slow motion. I remember looking across at Jacky who was a fair distance to my left, he had also stopped and was watching the Lion and then looked across at me, he was calm and showed no apparent fear, looking back at it now I wonder if that was because it was focused on me and had totally ignored him, anyway his look reassured me and gave me confidence that things were going to work out fine. I had ready myself to step forward, my hands clasped together to begin clapping and I took in a deep breath to prime my lungs to begin shouting as loud as I could. I'm guessing it would have been an octave or two higher but with all this time available to me I had taken this into account and compensated for it. I had even marked the position of where I'd begin screaming, lets be honest, of the lion relative to me. Still low, growling and his stiff tail whipping from side to side, like a jockey spurring on a racehorse he barrelled down towards me but centimetres short of my mark he stopped, stood tall, chest out and gave a low earth moving growl, his tail even slowing to a stiff swoosh. He stood there a moment looking down on me and then turned and looked at Jacky, I knew then that things were going to be ok as a look of uncertainty crept in. He then proceeded to turn and quickly spun around once again facing us, all the time still growling. Jacky took this as his cue to back up and I slowly followed his example trying to kick my jelly legs into action. It appeared our slow retreat opened the window for him to gracefully make a backward retreat and once he reached the cover of his Weeping Wattle he turned and trotted off to deeper cover. With our guests witnessing the entire thing unfold in front of them their eye's were as large as saucers and their jaws were literally on the floor, nobody dared utter a word. Nearing the vehicle Jacky and I broke into a jog as we wanted to get onto the trail of the Maghlatini before he disappeared. It was just as well we did as he headed straight of into his namesake, “ thick bush”, choosing one of the thickest stands of Mopane I seen to date. It was just as well I'd left my camera behind. We gave him his space and allowed him to settle and regain his confidence in us. Once the growling had subsided we manoeuvred our way around so that we could get a better view, which truth be told was not great. Sitting with him for some time we eventually mended our bridge as he took his eyes off us and eventually put his head down, rolled over and returned to what Lions do best, sleep. Satisfied that we were once again friends we headed on our way for a much needed sundowner stop.

The rest of our drive was very tame in comparison and there was nothing to really write home about but I think we had had enough excitement for the evening and we headed back to camp happy to have survived to tell, ok maybe a little embellished, our afternoons adventure round the camp fire.

Lets see what tomorrow holds.


  1. Well done to have kept your nerve. That probably saved you

  2. The story more than makes up for any pics. All sorts of pictures come to one's mind and they are all amusing... but really glad there was no harm done. Wanda

  3. WOW. Your guests had an awesome sighting. I hope some of them got pictures.
    Only problem must be that the shutter speed had to be very fast not to blur on your shaky legs :-) ...
    Just kidding Grant. Must have been an experience, I am just glad it all worked out OK.


  4. I hope you learn a good lesson.
    And I ask you, please, don't say "to what lions do best: sleeping"....if that is so, what did you had to fear?
    A male lion has a hard life....
    Among other things, a territory to patrol and defend.
    I honestly don't like when my guests hear this nonsense from rangers/guides.
    Best wishes

  5. admittedly though irene, as you know, lions do spend more than three-quarters of their lives sleeping ;), so its not all that non-sense!

    and the only reason one spends hours watching them do nothing all day is for those moments in their lives when they are indeed awake, as little else compares to that!