Saturday, 21 July 2012

21st July – Chasing Cheetahs!

Photo of the Day
Hyena mother and cub playing...well, glad my mom didnt play with me like that!

Morning Drive

(Chad, Andrea, Peter, Herold and Shaddy)

8 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 x lionesses and 5 x sub-adult males) – Kings, Airstrip Rd

1 x leopard (Argyle Jnr’s female cub) – Peru, Long Rd/Sohebele Dam

1 x rhino (relaxed male)

1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Rudi’s Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Tawny Eagle Rd

1 x elephant bull – Java, Western Cutline

Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Andrea, Herold and Shaddy)

3 x cheetahs – Java, Western Cutline

8 x lions – Kings, Argyle Rd

4 x rhino

1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Jaydee Access

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Western Cutline

Daily Synopsis

Thanks Andrea for looking after the blog the last few days, and sorry I passed on my terrible affliction of always being late to you!  It is thus quite amazing that I am actually posting this blog on the day it happened, and not a week later!

So, I’m clearly back on drive, and considering the temperature touched 30 today, its hard to believe we are in the middle of winter!  Besides the weather, it was a generally good day out in the bush!

The morning saw us all going our own ways; I went south to check on the hyena den, Herold went central and found where Argyle Jnr leopardess and her cubs had had a kill, but only got a glimpse of the young female cub (although his guests saw all three leopards moving off when Herold was off tracking); Andrea went west and found a large male rhino; and Shaddy went east and found mopane trees and a few elephants.  All three of them ended up at the Machaton Pride down on Kings, just south of Double Highway, but I opted to leave that for the morning.

My trip south started with a lone buffalo bull near the camp, and then carried on with a couple of nice kudu and impala herds.
Buffalo bull

Browsing kudu
Nearing the hyena den, we had a lone elephant bull in monstrously thick bush, but a nearby herd of wildebeest distracted us instead, so we viewed them before moving to the den site.

Implausability of wildebeest
There were two adults and the two bigger cubs out, and we watched as they greeted each other and curiously came up and sniffed the vehicle as seems to be the norm these days!

Curious cubs
After that, mom was in playful mood, and was chasing the cubs around the termite mound, then they would go after her.  She eventually won when she got hold of the one and started dragging it around by its back leg – and I suddenly started wondering just how playful this was!  It then ended with her dragging the other cub around by the foot, before they ganged up on her and, then, tired out they all went to rest and we went for some coffee.

Mother hyena and cubs playing quite roughly!!!
We ticked off some nice birds in the morning, including a saddle-billed stork, and several sightings of duikers, steenbuck, impala and some waterbuck.

Saddle-billed stork

I went to try and relocate on Andrea’s rhino, but he must have grown wings and flown off, as we found nothing, so conceded defeat and returned to camp.

The most exciting news of the morning was Johannes finding cheetah tracks heading towards Java – it was thus great news to hear that Marka had seen them around midday on Java Airstrip – a mother and two nearly-adult cheetahs!  Combined with the ostrich some of our guides saw yesterday, this makes a welcomed return of some of the rarer species of the reserve.

This set my agenda for the afternoon, and I headed straight into the area to scout out for the cheetahs, full expecting to find them resting on one of the numerous termite mounds in the area...i found trees! 

There were some impala and steenbuck around, and tracks for two of the cheetahs, but it was difficult to see where they went.  I eventually moved out the area, so it was a bit frustrating that later, Andrea found their tracks on top of mine!!!  Herold got a bit lucky and had a brief view of them a kilometre or so away, but it was almost dark and they were not that relaxed for some reason.  Equally frustrating was that they also found four rhinos in the same area I spent a good part of the afternoon driving around!

Anyways, that is the bush for you, so I carried on and had a fairly quiet drive, but got a hippo at Elephant Dam, and then some lovely elephants further west.  We spent some nice time with the herd, half giving my guests a heart-attack when they trumpeted at us! 
Hippo at elephant dam

Elephant herd
Leaving them, we moved a bit further south to the Machaton Pride of lions that were quite close to the western boundary, and had gotten awake and mobile west as we approached,

Machaton Pride on the move
We followed them until they arrived on the tarred Argyle Rd, and moved northwards, right past us!  The pride then picked up on the scent of something to the west, and slowly moved off there before we left the area, wondering when exactly they would come back!

Machaton Pride crossing Argyle Rd into Klaserie

Large-spotted genet
The drive home was surprisingly warm, and we ticked off elephant, hyena and genet to round off another enjoyable day!
To round off this blog though, here are a few pics I snapped up over the last few days; including the Timbavati Pride up on Buchner (after a rather interesting experience of finding them on foot in the thickest of mopane areas!), and some pics from yesterday’s drive with Xindzuti near his crocodile kill!
Will catch you all again tomorrow J

Elephant bull near camp

Timbavati pride eventually moving into the open after having to track them down in some very thick mopane!

Timbavati cubs - getting big now!

Timbavati lionesses - ever get the feeling you are being watched!

Red-billed hornbill

Giraffe drinking in what was once Vyeboom Dam

Crested barbet

Waterbuck from yesterday afternoon

Xindzuti after losing his crocodile kill to a hyena

Godfrey's photos from a herd of elephants at the camp dam last weekend


  1. Beautiful pictures. I especially like the impala pics. Your pictures proved one thing to me and that is lions do frown! You can see the worry on one of the lions face and the frown lines. Great job and as always looking forward to the next.

  2. Lovely Pics. I love photography. Unfortunately i don have a Camera. But these pics r really mind blowing:)))

  3. Well, if not being watched by lions you all are being watched by us. Thanks for the drive en the extra pics, Chad.

  4. Thanks for the update, Chad. Which pride is the Timbavati pride? How many lions are in the pride?

  5. Hi Chad,

    I am going to Ngwenya Lodge in September and want to buy a really good / strong spotlight. Any suggestions.

  6. thanks guys and gals!

    tammy - the timbavati pride are from the north, and presently made up of three lionesses and their cubs, and the three mahlathini males - the two mothers of the white lions are part of this pride again....they originated from the old jacaranda pride...

    as for a spotlight; the best are the light force ones, but they are a bit pricey, so you will have to talk nicely to your better half ;)

  7. Thanks Chad.