Tuesday, 15 May 2012

14th May: A Legend Returns!

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant & Chad.)

Leopard ( Argyle Male) / Peru – Argyle Rd.
Leopard ( Rockfig Jnr & Cub) / Kings – Ridge Rd.
Lion ( 2 x Males) / Tanda Tula – Tabby's Crossing.
Elephant ( Kambakus) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / JayDee – Tamboti Pan.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Vielmieter – Albert/ Vielmieter Cutline.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant & Chad.)

Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Ndlophu Rd.
Rhino ( 3 x Unknown)
Leopard ( Argyle Male) / Peru – Argyle Rd.
Lion ( 2 x Jacaranda Sub Adults) / Argyle – Argyle dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Argyle – Argyle Dam.

Daily Synopsis.

Having received an invitation from Tanda Tula the previous evening to visit the Machaton Pride with a Buffalo they had killed in the morning both myself and Chad turned our attention to the South for the mornings drive. While Chad headed to the East I decided to head to our Western boundary and follow up on Argyle Male who had been found the night before with a dead Kudu. With the meat being on the ground we could not visit it after dark although we were very keen to see our once dominant male of the North. Since his dethroning we had not seen him in months as he drifted South and there had been confirmed sightings of him near Gomo Gomo in the Klaserie, hearing this we thought we may never see him again.

Nearing the sighting we discovered the cause of the Kudu's demise as we found prominent vehicle skid marks that ran for plus/ minus twenty five metres ending in a broken headlight and a dead Kudu that lay ten metres off the road. On closer inspection we saw the distinctive box shaped head of our long lost friend not far from the carcass. Making our way closer to the sighting he seemed not very relaxed with the vehicle and he stood and made his way into some longer grass. Switching off we sat with him allowing him time to get accustomed to our presence. When a couple Impala's started to alarm call to the East of us it distracted him and he totally ignored us and turned his attention to them, even getting up and approaching the vehicle. Once he assessed they were not interested in him and more than likely another predator in the distance he settled down to rest again. To look at him he appeared in great condition but then again he had just spent the evening feeding on half a Kudu Bull, but even his once lazy eye seemed more alert. Dare I say it but he looks better than ever and maybe we are looking at an attempted comeback by one of our legends. I'm totally in his corner and would love to see him return home. Having enjoyed a good sighting of him we did not want to put to much pressure on him and made space for other vehicles to enjoy his return.

Refocussing we turned South and started our long journey towards the Machaton Pride and their Buffalo kill. The course we plotted seemed to be a good one as we picked up on a fair amount of General Game as well as a variety of Elephant sightings, it did however delay our progress and this was to only get worse when Rockfig Jnr and her cub were found along the route very near to where we were. 

With the majority of stations having visited Ntombi and her cub, who are on a kill not far away, Rockfig did not draw a lot of attention and we were invited to respond. On approach however she was lost as she crossed a drainage line, having committed to the sighting we stayed in the area to try relocate, thus delaying us even more, but shortly before leaving the area she was relocated and we joined the sighting to find her heading to the East with her cub following shyly behind. Giving her space we got ourselves in a position ahead of her but just as she was making her way around the bushes into the open she turned around and went off and collected her cub. We thought we had missed out but sitting tight she again turned and headed in our direction. This time she walked round the brush and sat on a termite mound right next to the car. Her cub was a little shy and approached very cautiously, but warning my guests to keep dead still and not to make the slightest noise, this included banning them from taking pictures, the cub walked straight up to mom and began cuddling with her a couple meters from the car in the open. With them settled I allowed my guests to take pics but soon after mom became annoyed and got up and moved on. I unfortunately did not get any photo's as I had parked both myself and Difference in the bushes, in fact we did not even get to see them.

The following two photo's are compliments of Mandy, a guest of ours who was fortunate enough to have this little youngster sit within ten meters of her side of the car.

With us not going to get a better view than we had we pulled out the sighting which had now gained some interest. Getting back on track we made our way towards the Lions but instead of it being the Machaton Pride it was now two male who had during the course of the night chased off the Machatons and stolen their kill. Having come this far we were not about to turn around, anyway it would be nice to see two males that we had never seen before. Our luck however would run out shortly before getting into the sighting as both males finished feeding and made their way into the nearby drainage line offering only distant views. We did try make our way round but they were in a very tricky area and once in you could only see one partially as it slept on the cool sand in amongst the thick vegetation. Not that we are complaining as we did get to see them and our sightings of earlier could not be matched.

All in all we had an amasing morning and it will be hard to pull a rabbit from a hat this afternoon.

Afternoon drive got off to a frustrating start as we checked around the lodge for any signs of Kuhanya or any other Leopard as I'd heard the alarm calls of Impala earlier in the afternoon not far from camp. During our search we received a message that there were three Rhino drinking at a dam that we had intended on visiting later in the afternoon. Wanting to see Rhino we accelerated our arrival into the area but unfortunately by the time we got there they had finished drinking and had moved back off East and all we got to see was the three of them cross our traversing boundary into Kruger.

Chad's drive got off to a better start with him finding Buffalo and Elephant around Argyle Dam. His goal for the afternoon was to head out West and visit Argyle Male as he had had no luck with Leopard in the morning.

We continued to check the East for any other signs of Rhino but it was very quite and when a very large herd of Elephant was called in, in our Central section we decided it would be nice to spend what was left of our afternoon with them and headed in their direction. Being some way away it took us a fair while to get there and only managed to arrive shortly before sunset and by the time we got to the sighting the herd had fragmented so we made our way around from small family group to group. They were very relaxed and we sat amongst them as they went about their evenings feeding. With the light eventually fading we set off for sundowners at Makulu Dam.

Resuming after dark we chose to head back North along the Tsharalumi River, hopefully get lucky with Makipi's or his brother Shindzuti but things would turn very quit and apart from a Spotted Thick-knee we saw little else. Nearing camp with a little time to spare we chose to check around Argyle Dam to see if we could catch one of the many Hippo's out of water but while rounding the Dam Difference's light found what he thought was a Leopard but when a second one popped up and we got a little closer they took on the distinctive shape of Lions, now there was a very welcome and pleasant surprise! Difference could be forgiven for miss-identifing them as it was the two Jacaranda Sub Adults that we found slowly making their way round the dam looking for something to hunt. It appeared they had tried their luck with a Buffalo as it came storming out the nearby Mopane but realising their limits they chose wisely to move on. The next thing that caught their interest was an Elephant that was busy feeding on Phiva Plains but this was more curiosity than anything else. We continued to follow them as they headed East wanting to hold them until Chad got into the area. A while later they came across an Impala herd that they began stalking. We switched off our lights and sat close to the herd in anticipation while one of the youngsters ran round the herd to the East and the other remained on the Western side setting up the ambush. Sitting in the dark we had no idea what was going on but it was great just to hear the noises of the Impala and some nearby Elephant. It was not long before we heard the distinctive alarm calls of the Impala proceeded by them running in all directions around the car obviously getting the better of the Lions on this occasion. Switching the light on again we found the two of them standing in an open clearing alone wondering where it all went wrong. Not to be deterred for long when they saw a lone Scrub Hare still stupidly hanging around they set off after it and it was not long before they caught it. Hardly a meal for two so while the one had herself a little appetiser the other sat around grooming herself. Not quite a rabbit out a hat, but close enough!

With us well into overtime we took our leave and headed back to the lodge for a late dinner. Glad we went to check on the Hippo and I love how the bush continually pops up little surprises. Lets see what tomorrow will hold.


  1. What a wonderful life - I am green with envy

  2. Great stuff Grant...
    Love how you could not see Rockfig Jnr and her cub while the rest had a blast ;-)

    Argyle male is looking in good shape, massive as always... Who dethroned him?
    Machaton male??