Photo of the Day
|For Deon Wessels "Wish you were here...Love, Your Family!" - Machaton Young male eating a giraffe kill|
(Chad and Grant)
1 x leopard (Shongile female) – De Luca, Drongo Drive
1 x rhino (skittish male)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – De Luca, Western Cutline
10 x buffalo bulls - Motswari, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – De Luca, Western Cutline
2 x elephant bulls – De Luca, Drongo Drive
(Chad, Herold and Grant)
10 x lions (Machaton Pride on a young giraffe kill) – Tanda Tula, Shortcut East
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Termite Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo –Motswari, Xinatsi Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Makulu Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Hippo Rocky Rd
After my shortened drive yesterday afternoon falling short of my own expectations, I wasn't mad keen to take another short drive this morning, but as always, the bush proved to me that you just never know what you will find! As only some of my group was going out, and not mad keen on facing the coldness of the early morning, we left a bit later than usual.
John, our night watchman, once again had a good evening “walk about” when he found Kuhanya sleeping on the deck of the breakfast verandah at about 2am, and then watched on as she walked past the pool and off into the bush. Hoping to find her, Grant headed to the east, but rather than a leopard, he found a herd of elephants that I headed towards when I got mobile. It was a small herd, but still nice and relaxed and we enjoyed some time with them.
|Cape glossy starling and a herd of elephants|
Hearing audio for a herd of buffalo nearby, we had intentions of going to look for them, but when Lovemore from Karan’s found a rhino on the property while out doing his rounds, he called me and offered to wait with it until I got there – as I was only a few kilometres away, I headed straight there. We found the buffalo, but not wanting to abuse Lovemore’s offer to stay with the rhino, I had to by-pass them and carry on a bit until I met up with Lovemore and the rhino. Sadly, despite it having stood there the whole time, it moved as soon as I pulled up behind Lovemore and we had only a brief glimpse. Relocating in the vehicle at a distance, I decided it would be best to walk in on foot. So off we trod in his direction, and found him standing behind some shrubby mopane, but in a nice area. Attempting to circle around for a better approach, we sadly lost him and despite walking for some time, were unable to relocate him. So while not a great sighting by any stretch of the imagination, it was still a nice adventure, made nicer when some lions started roaring someway off to the south of us. We returned to look for the buffalos, and located on a bachelor group of buffalo moving behind the herd, but the herd had moved into a big block; I was about to go and relocate them as the bulls ran off when Grant called to let me know he had Kuhanya on Drongo Drive – the same road I was on. Only later did I realise just how far up Drongo Drive he was, so far up that even he questioned the leopard’s ID and then correctly identified her as Shongile!
I had committed myself, despite knowing I would be back at camp late, but who could pass up on such a beautiful leopard? I arrived to join Grant to see her stalking a herd of guineafowl in some very long grass, which was great for her, but not for us – so while we got to see her, it was not the best visual we had of leopards over the guests stay, but still nice to see. Grant stuck with her, and after some elephant bulls arrived, Shongile moved off and went to drink at Mpela-pela before disappearing into some impenetrable mopane – and like Grant said, you cant even call it a thicket, as that would be the understatement of the century!!!
|Shongile stalking guineafowls|
So I arrived back after a short drive having seen elephants, buffalo, rhino and leopard – far more than I imagined, but not really at the leisurely pace I would have preferred, but it was still a nice morning.
In the afternoon, I received some guests from Ingwelala for a drive, and as I have never not shown such guests either lions or leopard on a drive, I was hoping that today would be no different – especially as their son, Deon, is a big follower of the blog!
The way the afternoon started out, I wasn't sure that it would end well. It was deadly quiet – Herold did find a herd of 300-400 buffalo drinking at Xinatsi Dam, but as my guests had seen many buffalos, I opted to rather try for a buffalo herd in the central regions that the Mafikizolo Pride had been seen trailing in the morning. I tried following up on the rhino I had seen in the morning, but besides the odd impala and a small herd of zebras, the east was really quiet.
Jacky then stopped me for a drag mark across the road, and we followed it along the banks of the Sohebele riverbed to find a fresh kill from a female leopard; hoping it was Mbali, we were surprised to see it hadn’t been touched – this meant that it was likely a female with cubs that had made the kill and gone to retrieve them, and this meant it was the leopardess that had hidden her cubs at Scholtz Camp at the end of last year, and this in turn meant that she was likely to be skittish, and not likely to provide us with much viewing over the next few days, but we will see.
Carrying on, I tried to see if lighting could strike for a fourth afternoon in a row and that we could find Makepisi or Shindzuti where they had been the last three days, but we only saw a herd of kudus and not even impalas!
The buffalo herd was tempting, but I headed instead to a small herd of elephants near Makulu Dam and enjoyed a wonderful sighting of them as they fed around as with a setting African sun in the west.
The southern stations had found a sighting that they invited us to see, so after stopping for a drink at Elephant Dam with some giraffes, impalas and guineafowls, we headed a lot further south towards the sighting. It was cold and quiet, and I am sure the guests were wondering why we were on such a mission – only a large African wild cat darted across the road, and several scrub hares. Luckily, there were ten much larger cats waiting to be seen, and we soon arrived to the awesome sight of the ten Machaton lions feasting on a freshly killed sub-adult giraffe!
|Machaton Pride feasting on a giraffe kill|
We spent a good part of the evening watching as half the pride fed, and half the pride slept! There was not a great deal of fighting, but the odd snarl was released if one young male got too close to another! We waited, hoping that the nearby whooping of a hyena would get closer and lead to some action, but all was quiet as this impressive pride kept on gorging their stomachs.
It was really fantastic to see them doing so well and to see the young males growing quickly; and as we left the sighting, little did we know that tragedy would strike the pride after our departure.
Heading home, we actually didn’t do too badly; a small spotted genet, a nice civet and a chameleon were ticked off as we headed back north. We checked the area of the leopard kill with no luck – the mother leopard had not returned yet, indicating that the kill was extremely fresh when we had found it, but I guess that is something to look for tomorrow!
The final surprise for us was another young African wild cat sitting on the road as we rounded a corner near camp – at first I could not imagine why he didn’t just run off, but then I realised that we had rudely interrupted his quiet toilet session, that he wasn't even going to interrupt for us! As soon as he was done though, he moved off into the bush and we returned to the lodge for a lovely glass of wine around the fire on the Boma before heading off to bed...still blissfully unaware of what would happen to the Machaton Pride during the night...
|Chameleon and a young African wild cat|