Photo of the Day
|Mbali and Machaton male mating|
(Chad and Marka)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Klipgat Crossing
(Chad, Grant, Andrea and Marka)
2 x leopards (Mbali female and Machaton male mating) – Peru, Mbali River Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Wilkens Way
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Buffalo Pan
2 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd
Yesterday...hmmm, what happened yesterday? (please be patient while Chad stares aimlessly at his keyboard trying to recall what happened yesterday................................................................................................)
Oh yes, yesterday! The morning was a rather quiet one, but always enjoyable, and my guests closing comments about just enjoying the lovely scenery as the golden morning light bathed the landscape in a wonderful palette of colours summed up the morning beautifully!
I began checking in the north and out towards Vyeboom Dam, spending time with a pair of steenbucks as the male tried to get some action, but his missus was having none of it! Carrying on past Buffalo Pan, I was half hoping to bump into Mbali leopardess who returned to the area yesterday afternoon – all we found though were tracks for a large male leopard, impalas, squirrels and some lovely birds.
|Black-winged stilts, pair of steenbuck and squirrels|
We then came across a herd of zebras, a nice herd of giraffes feeding with a family of warthogs in attendance, a large herd of waterbuck and some kudus before stopping for a cup of coffee on the banks of the Nhlaralumi for some coffee.
|Zebra, giraffe and warthogs, and kudu|
Continuing after that, we went along the river hoping to find Makepisi or his brother, but only ticked off impalas and a few steenbucks; only upon returning to the river did we find a nice herd of elephants drinking at Klipgat making for a magic scene.
|Elephant herd drinking at Klipgat|
The herd then ambled down the riverbed to the south, and that brought us to the end of the morning; heading home we passed impalas, steenbuck, kudus and waterbuck before arriving back to a welcoming breakfast! Marka had himself a frustrating morning as he was hot on the trail of the Mafikizolo Pride of lions, but seemingly they saw him approaching and ran off, eventually crossing off our traversing area to the south.
|Giyani and his Java guests enjoying the elephant herd|
The afternoon was a wonderful warm affair and I was joined by some new guests; we began at Argyle Dam with some glorious male kudus, the hippos all in the water, and impala and waterbuck in the area too.
|Hippos and waterbuck a Argyle Dam|
Moving back towards the riverbed hoping to get lucky with elephants and possibly a leopard, we found steenbucks, a couple of female giraffes, some more male giraffes and a lot of smaller things on the drive.
There were also two male buffalos in the riverbed feeding near some male kudus, and we spent time with them before going for a sundowner in the riverbed.
|Giraffe herds and kudu and buffalo|
After that, I was indecisive, but opted to stick near the riverbed hoping to come across at least one of the leopards that frequent the area...it was a lucky choice, as a while later, we were sitting watching not one, but two leopards!
Rudi from Karans camp had radioed me to tell me that he had picked up a pair of leopards on honeymoon a few hundred metres up on the road I was travelling along; so after not seeing mating leopards for 5 years, I was not only a minute away from my second mating pair this week! Sadly, they moved down into the river, so I had to race around to see if I could pick them up on the other side – luckily Grant had come into the area to help us out, and soon found Machaton male leopard and his latest fling resting on the opposite bank of the river – it was a distant visual at best, but in the open, so we weren’t complaining!
It was not so much the surprise of seeing the two leopards together that got to me, but rather who the female was! I was totally expecting Klakisa, but as I raised my binoculars to the leopardess about 70m away, I immediately recognised the shape of her head – it was the granny, Mbali...and she had hooked up with a young, strapping stud!
|Mbali female and Machaton male mating!|
We got to see them mating three times at a distance, then they moved into a thicket and mated again; I was about to pull out when the male moved into the riverbed and came straight to our side, with Mbali following him – it looked like they were going to mate right in front of us, but sadly the vehicle that joined me in the sighting had such noisy breaks that it caused the leopards to trot off back to the opposite bank, and we left them to enjoy the rest of their honeymoon! As a non-territorial leopard of about 15 years old, I can’t imagine that she will succeed in raising any cubs, especially as she has only ever raised one her whole life! But, I have been known to be wrong!
After that fantastic sighting, we returned to the lodge to enjoy a wonderful evening around the boma, and reminisce about another wonderful day at Motswari!
|Machaton male and Mbali on Honeymoon ;)|