Sunday, 29 April 2012

28th April: A Family Reunion!

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack, Marka & Johannes.)

Lion ( 3 x Sohobele Males) / Motswari – Matomani Rd.
Elephant ( Kambakus) / Motswari – Motswari Southern Access.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Shabalala Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Shabalala Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack, Marka & Herold.)

Lion ( 3 x Sohobele Males) / Argyle – Argyle Dam Lookout.
Leopard ( Shindzuti Male) / Java – Java Dam.
Leopard ( Makipi's Male) / Java – Teminalia Rd.
Rhino ( Mtenga-tenga Male)
Rhino ( Female & Calf)
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Tamboti Pan.

Daily Synopsis.

Setting out on drive on the most perfect autumns morning, cool, clear and not a breath of wind. I received a message from our neighbour informing me that he had seen the three Sohobele Male lions the previous evening sitting on our Southern Access road. Now were Chad has his Leopards I have my Lions and although the Timbavati Pride are very near and dear to my heart the Sohobele Males have to be my firm favourite. Their story is one of pure courage, determination and the ultimate will to survive. They have overcome all adversities thrown their way from being orphaned way before their time, split from one another for extended periods of time, to walking day and night in search of a meal and recovering from the many mauling they received at the tooth and claw of other Lions. So to hear that all three of them were here on our doorstep, all my plans for the morning went out the window and become solely focused on finding these long lost friends. I knew exactly who to call to come help as he must be the one other person that could possibly love them more than me, Johannes. On calling him he had already got wind of the message and was already on his way to the area. Both he and I checked to the North East of the camp, while Marka checked further to the East to make sure they had not turned back to Kruger. It was not long before I found where they had been chasing a large male Buffalo. Johannes also had found where they had trailed behind that same Buffalo further to my North West. This was good news as they were heading deeper into our traversing area. Johannes and I went onto foot to determine exactly the direction they were heading. We found were they had relocated on the Buffalo and split into hunting formation. The Buffalo had continued to the West so Johannes and I returned to the vehicles and while he checked to the North, I proceeded to check further to the West. With the ground being very hard after the recent rain and somewhat rocky we painstakingly patrolled the area looking for any tell-tale sign of their presence. On reaching our Western boundary I turned to the South and started to check towards the airstrip. Johannes meanwhile had found a track further to the North heading in a North Westerly direction, this was not good as it was heading directly towards our boundary. Johannes proceeded to check the boundary road but did not come up with anything and was on his way back to the last tracks that he had seen to start following up from there when he heard Impala alarm calling further to the North than where he had just checked. Ever aware of his surroundings and the tell tale signs he contacted me to let me know that he was heading to check on the alarm call and that I must not go far. Sure enough two minutes later he contacted me to let me know that he had found them and we were in luck as they were now making their way South back into our traversing area. Not leaving anything to chance I rushed in his direction to find one male walking majestically down the road towards us. The other two had just left the road as they had seen a herd of Kudu and were once again on the hunt. Not wanting to disturb them we sat as they set up their ambush unfortunately one of the females got wind of them and let off the loud alarm bark. With their cover blown the three of them once again set off South through a nice open area that afforded us a good view of them. Although they looking a little on the lean side, story of their lives, one can see the gene's of their father, the great Sohobele Male, starting to blossom and given time these youngsters while develop into majestic males like their dad. With a lot of interest being shown in the sighting we would soon have to make space so others could also enjoy them. Shortly before we left though they went into hunt mode again and set up an ambush on two Warthog. This time they came very close to pulling it off and had the one brother been in position in time I'm sure they would have pulled it off. I was glad to see nothing has changed with them and they are still ever the opportunists, so not that different to your Leopards there Chad. It has been the major factor in their survival. I tried to figure out the last time I saw them and came up with it nearly being six months, lets hope they hang around a few days so that we can enjoy them.

The rest of our morning was a chilled affair with us taking in all things great and small. We also headed to the East to visit the Kruger boundary, always a point of interest, as well as to find Zebra in the open clearings of the area. They kept us waiting though and it was not until the final cleared area that we found them and in the nick of time as well, as they slowly made their way into the surrounding Mopane to feed on the lush grass in the shade.

Both Johannes and Marka found themselves a nice herd of Buffalo as well as a huge herd of Elephant to bring to a close a very successful morning for themselves. Something I'll be keen to follow up on this afternoon.

Our afternoons mission was to head to the West and try follow up on the Buffalo herd that had been located this morning. Having chosen our route we slowly made our way in that direction but we then got news that another station was driving that route from the South so a quick change of plan was in order. I always say things happen for a reason and on this occasion it became apparent rather quickly. Heading on our new route I received a message from Marka informing me that he had found Shindzuti at Java Dam. On our new coarse we only had to make a minor adjustment and we were on the bush highway in his direction. It did not take us long at all to get into the area but unfortunately this rather shy Leopard had become mobile from his resting spot in a tree and was now walking through some very thick stuff, only reminiscent to stuff I've ever seen when playing golf. We got to see him literally for a minute or two before he disappeared away into the surrounding bush, clearly not wanting to be seen. While trying to relocate on him we received an invitation to go visit Mtenga-tenga, our large male Rhino, or the female and her calf in the open plains in the South. Not having any luck in finding our Shadow, that is what Shindzuti means in Shangaan, we took our leave and took up the offer to head South and visit the Rhino. We chose to head for mom and her calf as the two of them are always a special sighting and this afternoon was to be no different. As we sat there with them our little White Rhino seems to be having an identity crisis as she thinks she is a Black Rhino with her browsing on a small tree. It was hilarious to watch as she gummed the tree and finally when it was not to her taste she used it to scratch an itch. A little tree for a little Rhino. 

Having had the most awesome sighting it was time to head for sundowners but before we could get to recount the days adventures we bumped into Mtenga-tenga Male who was making his way across Eagle-Owl Plains following the scent of the other two. We sat and watched this impressive juganaught in the days fading light and it was one more story to be added to a day filled with excitement and adventure.

I nearly forgot to mention a very awesome experience we had on our drive home. Nearing camp we were checking the airstrip to see if we could find Kuhanya but instead we found a herd of Elephant hanging out in the open. As we do not view Elephant at night as we do not shine the light on them we chose to switch off all our lights and radio and sat with them in the pitch dark using our other senses to experience the moment. As our eyes became adjusted to the light we could make out their impressive shapes next to the vehicle and as time passed and they got closer we could make out details on their face but the noises and smells were what made the experience and it will be something that I do more often now as our presence did not interfere in any way and they went about what they were doing as if we were not there. I couldn't think of a better way to finish off the perfect day.

At this rate I can't wait to see what tomorrow holds!


  1. Lovely sightings Grant, love the baby rhino pics and your lions are going to be very beautiful once they get some weight on them, they have lovely faces already ! Rosie.

  2. I'm so happy the Sohobele males are back, and they're looking gorgeous. I always wonder about them. The rhino calf is adorable too.
    Tammy Lee