Wednesday, 9 May 2012

08th May – Is Chad's Jinx Returning?

Photo of the Day
Umfana male leopard watching a hyena below

Morning Drive

(Chad, Marka and Herold)

5 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride) – Kings, Hyena Rd

1 x leopard (Umfana male with impala kill) – Kings, Colbert’s Rd

1 x leopard (unidentified skittish male) – Motswari, Sharalumi-Ingwelala Cutline

1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – De Luca, Argyle Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Sohebele Plains

Afternoon Drive

(Chad and Herold)

5 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride) – Kings, Eagle Owl Plains

1 x leopard (Umfana male with impala kill) – Kings, Colbert’s Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Southern Access

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Woza-Woza Cutline

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Kings, Hyena Rd

2 x elephant bulls – De Luca, Mpela-pela

1 x elephant bull – Kings, Eagle Owl Plains

Daily Synopsis

For the first time this week, I walked out to strong shadows cast by the moon; not only did it mean that I was awake too early for a normal person, but it meant the sky was clear and I got excited about the prospect of a nice clear day...pity we arrived back at camp 3h30 later rather wet from the rain that blew in!

I had yet another very child morning, and once again didn’t see another vehicle the whole drive!The morning began with finding fresh tracks for Kuhanya walking through camp, and I headed to follow up while Herold and Marka checked on lions roaring to the east.While enjoying the beautiful scenery below the camp dam wall, we heard kudus alarm calling in the direction Kuhanya’s tracks had headed and raced over there.Hearing them again, I thought they were in Ingwelala and almost gave up when Tiyani suggested I try the cutline.As I pulled onto the straight cutline, I ignored the nearby giraffe and grabbed my binoculars, and as I raised them, I saw just what I wanted, a leopard about 200m away standing in the road.Sadly, as I pulled not even 40m forward, it jumped into the bush, and immediately we could see from the size it was a male, and he was gone!So back to the giraffe we went (Johannes later found him on bushwork again, and he was more relaxed, but in a very thick area; while Johannes said it was Vyeboom Dam male, im convinced it was his brother, Gijima male, if not Machaton male).

Carrying on to Argyle Dam we found more obliging giraffe and a herd of zebras, but some nearby impalas began alarm calling, so we went to see what was up there, but again, had no luck, besides, well, impalas!

Giraffes and impalas

Around Argyle Dam, the hippos, bushbuck, baboons and impalas were at the dam, and on Piva Plains, we enjoyed more impala, two zebra herds, a waterbuck being chased by our lone-wildebeest-who-thinks-he-is-an-impala, only to later be well amused as he ran around with the impalas as they were practicing their stotting/jumping across the plains...the impalas stopped, then the wildebeest stopped.The impalas ran off, the wildebeest followed!I was just waiting for him to start doing the stotting jumps that the impalas were performing, but he didn’t quite have the confidence...but at least he has found a family he can be part of!

Bushbuck, zebras and impalas around Argyle Dam/Piva Plains
Then we had a rather poor sighting of a small herd of elephants in the mopane thicket adjacent to Sohebele Plains, but they ran off after a short time when some young males came.

Herold had found a dead python that he claimed was about 5m long, and I had to see this, so I headed to the east to see it at Majavi Dam.There was a lot of impala and a couple herds of zebras and warthogs on the way, but not much else.The two hippos at the dam watched as we inspected the dead python; it had been there for a couple days, and I had smelt it a few days ago – the vultures had eaten most of it, but it was still reasonably complete, and we measure it to be about 4.5m long, with a good chance of it making 5m had it not been eaten – what a shame it was dead.

A dead 5m long African Rock Python being held up by my guest, Horst
After coffee, the rain started, so we headed back campwards; pausing to enjoy a herd of zebras that had moved on the Kudu Pan Clearing, as well as more warthogs, zebras, impalas and warthogs on the Karans airstrip.

Zebras bfore the rain
The rain started coming down harder, and we called it quits and headed back home.Herold had gone south and saw the Mafikizolo Pride and Umfana male leopard down on Kings, while Marka saw the massive buffalo herd at Elephant Dam.

In the afternoon, Herold tried his luck up in Buchner, but sadly besides lots of fresh tracks for male lions and rhinos, he had a quiet, but still wonderful drive in that lovely part of the reserve.

I tried my luck in the south, and to begin with, it seemed as though my “jinxed” status had returned, as the lions that had been fast asleep were nowhere to be found!I was going south, but took a detour on hearing that either Makepisi or his shy brother, Shindzuti, were lying in the sedges in Mvubu Crossing, but as the other lodge doesn’t drive there, they couldn’t give a great update on the sighting, so I chanced my arm, passing a nice snake eagle, a lone zebra and a herd of elephants along the way.
Brown snake eagle
Arriving at the sighting, I got to see some of the best reeds/sedge I ever have, but not so much as a spot of a leopard.It was thus rather annoying that ten minutes later, after telling Giyani to check on him, he radioed to tell me that he was lying right in the open!Doh!

I then decided to cut my losses and still head south in the hope of finding the lions, as they were the main mission for the afternoon, but arriving in the south (seeing impalas, nyala, warthog, waterbuck and giraffe along the way), there was still no sign of them, but we did get to enjoy a great sighting of some elephants as they fed in the last light of the afternoon.The one young male calf was a treat to watch as he tried his best to be intimidating, but being “only” 150kg of cheekiness, it didn’t quite work!

Elephant herd with a cheeky baby!
Moving a short distance off, Kings had invited us to go see Umfana male leopard on his impala kill again, and rather than looping around Eagle Owl Plains, I took the when I arrived at the leopard and heard that the lions were found on Eagle Owl Plains, exactly where I opted NOT to go, I started worrying more and more about my jinx!

Regardless, it left me temporarily as we enjoyed a wonderful sighting of the young male leopard as an even younger hyena approached to scavenge off scraps below the carcass hoisted some 15m into a marula tree!The “escape” from the hyena was temporarily halted as a male impala came chasing a female past the leopard, and we almost saw him catch one right in front of us, but the impala got wind of him at the last second, and stopped just short of certain death!

A young hyena being watched by Umfana male
Up in the tree, the leopard snarled at the hyena, then just lay there watching him before falling asleep, and we decided to head towards the lions.

As we approached, the Mafikizolo Pride pulled a Houdini and disappeared!Doh! The jinx was back!Not to be defeated, I put the land rover to its test and managed to get through an extremely rocky area along the Machaton River, only to find the skittish lioness that immediately left the riverbed and moved out to the side I had just come from!!!

Mafikizolo Pride on the prowl

Eventually they ended up on the plains and moved north on the hunt when we rejoined; it wasn't the easiest sighting as they were always moving, but we enjoyed it before heading back towards camp.
We stopped to photograph the stars, but as it was not already way past closing-down time, we had to race back to camp, and made it just in time for a wonderful dinner to end another good day...just hope the jinxing is only temporary!


  1. Chad, if that is a day of being "jinx", bring it on! What a wonderful way to spend the day and see all sorts of animals. Yes I love leopards and lions but i love the remaining animals just as much. As far as I can see, you have no "jinx" and keep up the wonderful pictures!!!!!

  2. fantastic report. I hope you get paid for this

  3. AWESOME PICTURES CHAD!!!! So glad you back in action! Missed your daily blog updates and pictures. Catt

  4. Hahaha, thanks folks!

    Carola dn Catt, thank you, im glad you like the images, and its always a pleasure to share them with you all :)