Saturday, 23 June 2012

22nd June – Mission Accomplished!

Photo of the Day

Makepisi male leopard interested in something on the tree!

Morning Drive

(Shadrack, Grant and Chad)

2 x lions (2 males – collared coalition) – Peru, Malongo Rd

1 x leopard (Makepisi male) – Java, Java Dam

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Java Dam

1 x elephant (lone cow) – Java, Java Dam Access

1 x rhino (skittish male)

Afternoon Drive

(Shadrack, Grant and Chad)

2 x lions (2 males – collared coalition) – Borneo, Borneo-Scholtz Cutline

1 x leopard (Makepisi male with Mbali’s impala kill) – Java, Java Dam Access

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Jack’s Camp

1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Karans, Kruger Cutline

Daily Synopsis

Having stayed up past midnight processing images for the blog (some stunning shots of Makepisi male from yesterday, so be sure to check it out if you missed that post!), I slept like a log for a few hours.

I had no sooner been rudely awoken by the sound of my alarm when I suddenly jumped out of bed and dashed out of my door, half-dressed!Why? Well, the deep sounds of a lions roar tailing off are always enough to get me into gear, just a pity that they stopped the instant I got outside, so I couldn’t even get a general direction...luckily, my fellow guides are a bit more alert in the mornings, and both Shaddy and Grant agreed that the calls were coming from Sohebele Dam area.

Knowing that they were on our land, and only a few kilometres away, I headed out, now fully believing that we would be able to achieve Mission Impossible!Moving out a bit quicker than I usually do, even Petros noticed my urgency/eagerness at which I made my way into the area – and when Petros found tracks for the lions on the airstrip chasing buffalo towards Argyle Dam, I told him that we should jump ahead, as they were calling further away. We didn’t see any more tracks coming out, nor did Shaddy, so I went and sat on Piva Plains enjoying the sunrise and hoping to hear them roaring again....which they did...back in the direction of camp!

Sunrise over Piva Plains with lions roaring near by

I was now well confused, but chatting to Grant who was off his vehicle trying to view a male rhino on foot near camp, he said that the lions were west of him, Dave (at camp) said the lions were south-west of him, and I knew they were north-east of me – this triangulation led to the same block the tracks had just gone into, so I dropped Petros off and went to Argyle Dam to enjoy some hippos and hope for another call, which came from right near Lover’s Leap.

Sunrise over Argyle Dam

The trackers were closing in on the lions, but a report of a herd of rhinos about 10 minutes from my position drew me away temporarily, but sadly, the info was wrong, and it was just the mother and her calf drinking in front of one of the private camps, but despite trying, they had moved off before I got there.

Kudu bull - sorry, its a shocking photo I know!!!

I was then going to go towards Java Dam to see some elephants that Shaddy had found, as well as Makepisi male leopard at the dam; Grant and the trackers were still busy, but they had found where the lions had been sleeping before they got up and moved off, possibly at the approach of the trackers?I had no sooner left the area of the rhinos when Grant got an update from the trackers telling him where to check, and literally two seconds later he found them; two males...and would you believe it, but one of them was the collared male from way, way south!

Two southern males way in the north - the same collared male and his partner that killed the Machaton young male last month in the south!
Clearly these two males, the ones that killed the Machaton cub last month, are exploring the area as best they can, and are no doubt the same two lions that have been leaving tracks criss-crossing the north the last week – has the Timbavati male temporarily chased them out of the south?

The two males - walking machines!
Either way, we had our lions, and Grant and I enjoyed a rather good sighting of them moving from mopane thickets to nice open areas as they bee-lined for Kudu Pan, where I eventually left them!

Lions on a mission - good luck to anyone that gets in their path!
The collar on the one is a bit annoying, as it is never nice to see a collar on a cat, but he is still an impressive boy!However, the collar forms part of some ongoing predator research in the Timbavati's southern sections and the information on his movements will provide valuable information to better understand the lion dynamics in the area; so a necessary evil i guess, but the collar will be removed when the battery life is complete in a year or so time.

After leaving them, we all went for a celebratory cup of coffee before going towards Java Dam to look for the elephant herd that Shaddy had seen earlier.Passing kudus, zebras,impalas and steenbuck, we checked the area but found tracks heading into quite a dense block that was not worth following up in, but we did get lucky to find one lone elephant cow feeding near the road in the company of some stotting impalas!

Lone elephant cow
Going back to camp didn’t see us finding much, but we closed down quite happy with the success of the morning, and even happier that the weatherman’s predictions of windy weather did not come to fruition.

The afternoon saw me not needing anything in particular, but my guests had a keen interest in photography, and as the clouds had now magically blown away, the bush was awash with wonderful colours, so all we needed were the animals to play along!

Before we even headed out, lunch was enjoyed watching a herd of impalas, a group of male kudus, a troop of monkeys, a family of warthogs and some nyala bulls on the opposite side of the dam; and as it turned out, this was a sign of things to come!

Making my way towards Argyle Dam, we arrived to find a few hippos out the water, so we approached slowly, and soon spotted another group also out the water and resting on the southern bank.The three ran into the water with a splash, but the bigger group remained unmoved for a bit longer.

Hippos resting outside the water before moving back with a splash
Eventually this group also got up and ran into the water creating an even bigger splash, and just like that, the hippos were gone.

A splash of hippos!
But they were just the start of a string of animals that kept us near the dam for more than half an hour; next was a family of waterbucks that had moved onto the middle island to enjoy some fresh, relatively untouched grass, but after a while, they too went running back through the water to get to the mainland!

A splash of waterbuck!
In the distance, we watched as impalas and a small group of zebras grazed on the plains, and a family of Egyptian geese sat in the water with their seven new chicks that could not be more than a couple of days old!

Egyptian geese and zebras and impalas on the plain
An African Fish Eagle was the vying for our attention as the waterbucks moved back across the water towards the plains.

Waterbuck back across the water!
We waited patiently with the fish eagle in great afternoon light before she eventually took off and went to land at the water’s edge for a drink.

Fish eagle in flight
The light was great, and I wanted to go and see Makepisi male leopard again, hoping he would be as obliging as he was yesterday; Grant was with a herd of elephants near the Nhlaralumi, Shaddy was checking for rhinos in the east, and a few King’s stations went to see the male lions, and with Umfana male leopard being found at Entrance Dam once more, this left Makepisi almost unattended.Heading in his direction we saw some more waterbuck and impalas.

Waterbuck calf
Arriving at the scene, another station was leaving the area to rush to Umfana male, saying that Makepisi had finished his kill and moved on; knowing that this was unlikely, I persisted and within 20 seconds found the new tree he had moved his kill to, and a minute later spotted his tail silhouetted against the bright sky clearly proving that he had not left...guess it was the other station’s loss, as we enjoyed another great sighting!He was in a small marula tree, but was very interested in something small that was seemingly coming towards his tree, and was watching it intently before jumping down to examine it.

A curious Makepisi male checking something out from his tree
Once done, he looked at the tree quizzically, and walked around it looking at what ever he had seen that was now clearly climbing the tree.His expressions and actions were great to see, but we never did see what it was that he saw!Most likely a scorpion or spider, as he was hesitant to go close!

Makepisi male checking out his tree

He eventually went to sleep after some grooming and a setting sun, but we decided to move on and see if we could get lucky with those lions from earlier, as they had been found in the same place they settled this morning.

Moving through the east towards them we stopped for a drinks stop at Kudu Pan before going to spend time in the dark with the lions; it was my one wish to hear them roaring, but arriving to find only one lion “flat cat”did not bode well, but we had time, so I suggested that we sit and wait.

Two male lions resting after a log day of patrolling
Discussing the lions, we eventually heard the first grunt coming from the bushes behind, and just like that, both lions exploded into a roar!Wow, what a magical sound, and nothing quite compares to sitting 10m away as they roar!!!It was the first time in a very, very long time I have been privy to such a display, and immediately had goose bumps!

The lion we could see didn’t even sit up to roar, but we stuck with them until a deadline I had sset; at 18h35, the deadline, the one sat up, and after a minute, the hidden male began his roar – in the upright pose, the closest lion could now give a full roar, and we all sat spell bound as the roaring echoed across the darkness of the landscape surrounding us...Africa at its absolute best!

Wow, nothing can compare to the sound of a lion roaring just 10m away!
Pulling ourselves away, I swung past the Kruger boundary, seeing a hippo at Majavi Dam and a breeding herd of buffalo resting on the boundary as the lions continued to roar a few kilometres away – I wont be surprised if the lions pick up on their scent and end up in this area tomorrow.

We then ambled back towards camp and closed down wholly satisfied with a rather amazing day at Motswari...

This is also my last blog for a bit as I am off drive tomorrow, so Grant will be attending to you for the next few days!I trust that you have enjoyed the blogs over the last 2 weeks, and will catch up again with you all soon!



  1. if we are single we are nothing, if we are together we are everything, unity is the best, a single person can,t do anything, a strong person also afraid when he is alone.but this is human nature, rule of nature

  2. WOW Chad, what a great day. Awesome pictures of Makepisi, and that fish eagle photos are stunning.