Tuesday, 17 July 2012

15th July – Chad’s Curse

Photo of the Day
Hyena cub at the den

Morning Drive

(Chad and Grant)

1 x leopard (Shongile female) – Motswari, Ingwelala Cutline

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Long Rd

Afternoon Drive


8 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 lionesses and 5 young males) – Umlani, Padda Dam

1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Camp

Daily Synopsis

Waking up to the sounds of lions and leopards calling for most the night, it was one of those mornings that promised a lot – only Grant was driving a few guys from the group, and I was out with my guests – we both went to check just north of camp for the leopard that had been calling incessantly throughout the night – Grant saw a few guineafowls up a tree and a herd of impalas fixed on something along our boundary and soon found Shongile female leopard walking south down the road, and I was a few hundred metres away so went to join him.  Thinking that the leopard was still on the road, I stopped a short distance away anticipating her moves...pity that unbeknown to me, she had left the road and headed straight into Ingwelala!  Luckily she was heading for Argyle, so I went around there and sat in the bushes on the boundary enjoying the choruses of birds as the sun rose, and slowly hearing her calls come closer. 
Eventually, the roaring was coming from our side of the boundary, so I drove along Horizon Rd checking carefully before turning off for once more listen – then Johannes called to tell me that he had found her on a termite mound back where I was initially waiting, so I returned there....only to hear that as I was getting close, she got up and wandered off back into Ingwelala before I could see her...my bad leopard luck was now getting frustrating!  The good news is that all the constant calling from Shongile means that she is clearly heavily in estrus once again, and we hope that she can find a mate this time!
I carried on towards Argyle Dam, and saw tracks for the two Ximpoko male lions that had been roaring near the camp at about 10:30pm last night, but at the same time, Giyani had tracks for male lions crossing our southern boundary, and immediately I knew that it was the same males up to their same tracks, so didn’t even bother following up.
At Argyle Dam we enjoyed some lovely hippos and a troop of baboons and an elephant herd that passed on the opposite bank – after sometime around the dam we went to join the elephant herd and spent some time with them before going for a cup of coffee at Argyle Dam.

Hippos at Argyle Dam
After coffee, the morning got horribly quiet, and I tried the northern boundaries for any signs of lions coming back, but found, quite literally, nothing!

Elephant herd we enjoyed before coffee
Fortunately, Umlani had invited us down to see the Machaton Pride in the far south, so my afternoon plan was to head down there – sadly my new guests were not due to arrive until much later, so I just went out with the family of guests and headed straight south.

Along Western Cutline we ticked off impala, steenbuck, giraffe and duiker before arriving at the hyena den.  At first there was only the mother with the one tiny cub out that we got a brief glimpse of, but after some time, the rest of the cubs came out.

Hyena cub and mum

We enjoyed a lovely sighting of the three older cubs and their brave approaches before the mothers eventually shot off to the south; this immediately sent the cubs back to their hole!

We followed the adults to see if anything was up, but there was nothing around, so we parted company and carried on south, not seeing a great deal at all...although was nice to see water being pumped back into Machaton Dam.

Eventually we arrived at the lion sighting near Padda Dam, but the 8 lions of the Machaton Pride were fast asleep and didn’t do a great deal to begin with.

We waited until dark, and some of the pride members began to stretch, yawn and do their business, but they all settled down again and we left them to it, as we were now faced with a monster drive home, on the coldest night of winter so far!  The drive was a long and cold one, but we did tick off some hyenas, but almost nothing else!

It wasn't the most productive day I have had out in the bush, but an enjoyable one none the less; with new guests in the morning, I have got to start all over again!  Let’s just hope my leopard luck changes!!!


  1. Isn't this the pride that has lost sub-adult male cubs recently to two males entering the area?

  2. Love all the photos but especially love your ellie photos today Chad!

  3. Hyena cubs - have never seen cubs in the wild hence delighted with these pictures.
    Also nice to see what else is hiding in the bush; would be good to put together an album dedicated to the little creatures that also call Motswari home.

  4. thanks so much folks!

    denise, yes, this is the pride that had two of the young males killed by the Ximpoko males...lets hope the others can make it...