Saturday, 16 June 2012

15th June – Serenaded By Lions!

Photo of the Day

Young male lion from the "new" pride
Morning Drive


6 x lions (3 x males, 3 x females) – Motswari, Marula Pan

6 x rhinos (1 male, 2 females, 3 sub-adults)

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Aardvark Rd

Afternoon Drive

(Herold and Chad)

6 x lions (3 x males, 3 x females) – Karans, Top Rd East

1 x lion (unknown young male) – Peru, Long Rd

1 x leopard (Umfana male leopard with impala kill) – Vielmetter, Entrance Dam

6 x rhinos (1 male, 2 females, 3 sub-adults)

2 x rhinos (2 skittish males)

1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Long Rd

Daily Synopsis

Hello again!  So I’m done with some more study leave and normal leave and eventually back on drive to go verify if things have really been as good as the guys have been saying they have over the last couple of weeks, and well, it does appear to be true!

The last few days have been quite fantastic around the camp, even without going on proper drives – we got to enjoy our new pride of lions along with some unknown males eating on their buffalo kill quite literally as I arrived back from leave!  The next morning three of the lions were drinking at the pan 100m from my house, and even better, the  next morning all six of the new pride were there!  I was taking one of the guests out for a walk, and until about 3am that morning, I had been thinking of walking from the lodge to Argyle Dam, but I then decided to rather just drive to Argyle Dam and walk around there...half of me is glad I did this, the other half not so!  I had no sooner gotten mobile and had just radioed Herold to see if there were any sightings I could walk into when Kelly, my guest, commented quizzically, “are you not going to stop for those lions?”; I did a double take and looked to my left where six lions were lying in the road I had driven 2 minutes earlier, drinking from a puddle of water 100m from reception!  Then an elephant pitched up and drank on the other side of the dam!  Put it this way, it would have been an interesting start to my walk had I chosen to walk from reception!

The new pride at Marula Pan, 100m from the lodge

Anyways, jumping 24 hours ahead to today, and Herold had pretty much the same start to his drive and found the new pride of lions still milling about at Marula Pan next to the camp.  I guess it was not a surprise to find lions so quickly, seeing as we had a lion roaring next to camp the WHOLE night...although, the lion making all the noise was not actually from the new pride, but rather a lone male on the opposite side of the lodge!  In fact, it was a rather busy night in camp; besides lions on both sides of camp, Tim (one of the waiters) saw a female leopard drinking at Marula Pan on his way back to the staff village (remembering that the pride of lions were also still resting on the other side of the pan) and John (our night watchman) also saw a male leopard walking through camp!

As the lions had been found at the camp again, our staff asked if they could go out and have a look at them before they started their day’s work, so we all piled into a Land Rover and I took them out to join Herold, but the lions had already walked more than a kilometre since the start of the drive, but we caught up with them as the crossed onto Sean’s Clearing before making our way back to the camp – in that time, two young Jacaranda lionesses were also located near Flooded Crossing, and a bit later, the lone male lion was found in the same area...oh yes, and Marka found a crash of six rhinos a couple kilometres south of all the lions!

With this in mind, I was keen to head out in the afternoon with my new guests.  I decided to go try relocate the rhinos first, knowing that the lions would not have gone far from where our trackers had relocated them late in the morning, despite it being a cloudy and cool afternoon.  I love blaming the weather for things, so the clouds became the reason that all we saw was one steenbuck in the first half hour of the drive!  But, I didn’t care much, as for the first time in almost four months, I was back with Petros on my tracker’s seat!!! It was great to be working with him again after he was on a 3-month long game ranger training course in the south of the Timbavati.  He soon stopped me as he had picked up fresh rhino tracks in the dense mopane woodlands in the east, and jumped off to begin tracking (in fact, it was the same location that featured as the main story in my Africa Geographic blog post about him; go read it here).  I left him to it and carried on driving, but a few hundred metres down the road we spotted the rhinos ourselves, so I called Petros back.

Crash of rhinos
The regular crash of five were the most relaxed I have ever seen them, and even came walking in the direction of our Landy when we stopped – an almost unfathomably quick transformation from the skittish rhinos they were not even 6 weeks back! 

Rhinos and oxpeckers
In the background, the skittish dominant male of the area showed himself, but the females were probably happy to have our attention for a bit as the male that had been following them about all day was eventually giving them a break!

After the wonderful sighting we had of these animals, we carried on to link-up with 2 other guests that had arrived late before going to follow up on the lions.  It was dead quite on the way to the area, and we hadn’t seen an impala the whole drive.  Arriving at where the lions had been left earlier, we found nothing.  We drove around and around, but nothing.  I was getting frustrated and about to leave the area to go and see a male lion a few kilometres away that Herold had found when Petros somehow spotted one of our lions resting in the grass.

The new pride eventually moved away from Marula Pan, but headed in the direction of their next favourite place; Majavi Dam

Our timing was great, and we had no sooner pulled in when the heads popped up and the yawning began; the females eventually moved to the east and the males followed and they settled in a good open area.


Nice to eventually get new lions that dont just run away!!!

After a few minutes there, they got up and walked another hundred metres before once more lying down – heads up and alert – but we decided to part company and head off for a drink in the dark at Majavi Dam.

After drinks with a hippo and a hyena, we went to check up on the male lion, but he was gone and despite checking around, we found nothing.  We did see a few scrub hares, two hippos out the water and an elephant, as well as our first impalas, but as they were all in the dark, we have a lot of work to do tomorrow!

We should be sorted for lions and leopard though; Herold got to see Umfana male leopard with a fresh kill up in a tree down at Entrance Dam, so he will be there tomorrow, and I would put money on the new pride of lions ending up at Majavi Dam at some point in the night, as with fat bellies, they have not got a need to move far...i guess we shall have to wait and see!


  1. Beautifully written and incredible pictures. Thank you for keeping us updated on the new pride.

  2. Hi Chad
    I see that you have managed it once again - Great photos - and the Lions have now arrived after I have left.

  3. Incredible as always! - thank you Chad!

  4. Great Pictures again Chad, and last week we enjoyed your picture of the white lioness (and her tawny cousin?)drinking, it was on our South African Desk Calendar!
    Greetings from a wet and windy UK. Hope to return to Motswari next year.
    Sue and John Robotham