Monday, 21 May 2012

20th May – Lovely Lions....and Leopards at Last!!!

Photo of the Day
Charging hippo!!!

Morning Drive

(Chad, Shadrack and Herold)

2 x lions (Jacaranda sub-adult lionesses) – Peru, Mangwa Clearing

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Mvubu Crossing

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Mpisi Khaya Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Buffalo Pan

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Illegal Crossing

Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Shadrack and Herold)

2 x leopards (Makepisi male and Shindzuti male) – Java, Terminalia Rd

1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Buchner, Buchner Access

3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Camp

1 x buffalo bull – Buchner, KNP Cutline

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Buchner, Buchner Access

3 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Camp

1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Reception Rd

Daily Synopsis

My guests Richard and Debbie were checking out this morning, and we still needed to find some giraffe, rhino and leopards, so began looking around in the north to see if we could get lucky close to camp, but things weren’t going great.We did manage to tick off the usual impalas, waterbuck and kudus, and eventually a couple of male giraffes near the Nhlaralumi.While heading west, Grant found a herd of elephants not far from where we had just driven, so I headed back there, finding another giraffe along the way.I wasn't having luck relocating the elephants, so when a massive herd of close to 100 elephants was found heading towards Mbali Dam, I opted to rather head in that direction, also hoping that Makepisi leopard would pop up.Going past Concrete Crossing, we had some lovely baboons (well, by our standards) with plenty babies as they moved through a herd of impalas and waterbuck.

Waterbuck, baboons and impalas

Proceeding to the elephants, the station leaving them found the two Jacaranda lionesses nearby, and as it was on the way, we chose to stop off and see some lions that were actually awake and doing something for a change!
We followed them for a bit before they found a termite mound and went to rest – so much for action...but luckily it was not over.

Young Jacaranda lionesses - looking in good shape and well fed

While sitting there, two giraffes came walking straight towards the lionesses, and the youngsters jumped up and walked straight towards the giraffes and crouched in the grass close-by, totally disappearing in the view of the giraffes.One giraffe spotted them and ran off, but the other wasn't so sure and remained motionless until one of the lionesses got up and trotted straight for him.The giraffe turned and bolted off, and the lionesses gave up immediately, realising that a giraffe was just a bit too big for them to bring down; maybe when they are a bit bigger!We then left them still on the prowl and moved towards the elephants that had just arrived at the water along the Nhlaralumi.

Jacaranda lionesses trying their luck on a male giraffe

Many elephants had already gathered at the water while others filed in from behind us – the young males being particularly entertaining as they tried their best to scare us, but their bravado was not quite as intimidating as they perhaps thought!

Large elephant herd gathering below Mbali Dam

The injured young calf from last year was in this big group and looking good, easily keeping pace as the herd moved off.We jumped ahead and had a couple of magical “walk-by’s”from the herd as they ambled within metres of us – always a moving experience!

We spent a good part of the morning with them, and as the weather was miserable, we opted to skip on coffee and head back to the camp without much more excitement...but sadly, no leopards or rhinos.

Great time spent with the elephant herd

In the afternoon, I was just out with my brother and sister-in-law, and when the first five minutes of the drive was just talking on the radio and a massive line-up building for a leopard that had been found way in the south, I opted to turn the radio off and head into an area where I wouldn’t need a radio: Buchner.

We bumbled up, not seeing much, but did tick off impalas, a couple of zebra, and then a lovely herd of elephants feeding along the access road.

Another nice elephant herd in the wilderness area

While spending time with them, we could hear a herd of buffalos drinking at a waterhole in front of one of the private camps, but only had a very distant visual of them moving off to the north.

Distant buffalo herd near the elephants

Arriving at Buchner, without any provocation, my sister-in-law commented on what a lovely property it was!Sadly, the big dam is totally gone, and one of the dams near the Kruger, but one waterhole still remained, and that was the one that contained Grant’s famous hippo!

Immediately on arriving – after a lone buffalo nearby – the hippo started lunging out of the water in our direction, and we sat and enjoyed an awesome display from him, capturing some of my favourite hippo photos I have ever taken!

The reserve's grumpiest hippo - but what a show to watch!
Leaving him, we headed for the Koppies, and despite fresh lion and rhino tracks, we had no luck. The sundowner with a mouse and a massive lizard was special, even if it meant that we had missed out on two leopards that Johannes had found on Java!Makepisi and Shindzuti were found with a kill, so at least I knew I could go tomorrow.
After the darkness settled, I headed back to camp, not seeing much besides two separate civet sightings.While following one to within 100m of the camp, we also ticked off a few elephant bulls that later kept my brother company in front of his room – well, he did have three buffalos there until the elephant pitched up and chased them off! Who needs to go on drive when the animals are all around camp!!!
Dear John, our night watchman, was quite worried that I actually arrived back at camp on time, and for the first time in ages, I was the first game drive back...he is certain that this miracle is going to bring snow tomorrow!

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