Friday, 31 August 2012

30th August – What a Wonderful Week!

Photo of the Day

Mafikizolo male at Majavi Dam

Morning Drive

(Chad, Grant, Pete, Andrea and Shadrack)

4 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride on a buffalo kill) – Karans, Majavi Dam

1 x leopard (Rockfig Jnr) – Vielmetter, Western Cutline

2 x rhino (female and female calf)

20 x buffalo bulls – Vielmetter, Jaydee Access

2 x buffalo – Java, Western Cutline

4 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Western Cutline

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Hazel’s Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Camp


Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Grant, Pete, Andrea and Shadrack)



Daily Synopsis

Greetings once again folks! Hope you have enjoyed all the wonderful posts from Mr Murphy and Ms Campbell!  I can only vouch that what they have been saying is absolutely true!  The game viewing the last week has been super special, and long may it last!

My first day back on blog duty was my last drive with my current group of guests, and having seen everything they wanted to see, including cheetah, we could take it easy this morning. 

Our first port of call was to head to the eastern boundary to see the Mafikizolo Pride and their buffalo kill that Johannes had tracked down yesterday.  As expected, we found then around the kill, and enjoyed a wonderful sighting in the early morning light.  The sighting got off to an exciting start, as driving in towards the kill, we could see the two males next to the carcass (hard to miss the world’s biggest bellies!); what I didn’t see was the one lioness crouched in the grass right in front of me until her tail emerged whipping from then I already knew it was too late, and despite trying to reverse quickly to get out of her comfort zone, she came charging at us!  Yesterday morning I also startled a leopard in the grass that did the same, so im dying to see who comes running at me tomorrow morning!  Luckily she settled down with the others and we continued to enjoy the sighting in such a wonderful setting.


Hidden danger

Fat-bellied Mafikizolos on a buffalo kill

Young male feeding

The big male then went to drink and we followed him there before he sauntered back to feed and we carried on with the drive.

Male lion drinking at Majavi Dam

Sticking in the east, we saw trees, trees, and more trees!  It was dead quiet, although there was a load of fresh rhino tracks, including super-fresh tracks for a mother and calf, but they crossed the boundary so we carried on back west, eventually seeing our first impala after almost 2 hours!  I did see my first Wahlbergs eagle of the summer though – quite late this year though, as they normally arrive mid-August.

Coffee break helped, and we responded to a nearby sighting of Rockfig Jnr leopardess who was stalking some impalas and zebras – she sadly missed and upon being seen moved to the west as we followed her...eventually though, out time had ticked by and we made a move home, ticking off a couple of buffalo bulls, kudu and impala along the route, but overall, it was a quiet morning.

Dwarf mongooses, zebras and Rockfig Jnr
The afternoon wasn't much busier, and while there were a good number of sightings about, they were widely scattered and didn’t provide for an easy afternoon.  Grant had himself a superb afternoon in the north – he found a herd of elephants, buffalo bulls, a male rhino and got to see the Motswari lions finishing off their buffalo kill with the hyenas nearby!
I had some guests that had come to Motswari just to photograph our lovely leopards...and as usual, when this happens, the lovely leopards go into hiding!  We bumbled past Argyle Dam and had some nice general game of impala, giraffe, kudu, warthogs and waterbuck, as well as the hippos and new saddle-billed stork “babies” that have moved to the dam.
Carrying on to where tracks for Mbali had been in the morning, we only found the remains of a tiny baby bushbuck that the eagles had finished it off.
There were some giraffe, but overall, it was deadly quiet, so I opted for the hyena den, surely that would provide some opportunities...well, it did...of an empty hole. 
Giraffe - the only spots i could find
Annoyed, I carried on, but as usual, Johannes came to the rescue with not one, not two, but THREE the EAST of all places!  In 5 years, I have only ever seen leopard on Scholtz once, and now I was rushing back north for a leap of leopards that I knew would be skittish, but as there had been a drag mark for a leopard kill in the area, I knew it was worth the risk.  We passed a large wildebeest herd as we headed back north, but I was only focussed on getting there before the leopards were lost...which they were as I arrived!!!

Johannes though managed to find them again for me and all I glimpsed was a tail as one ran off, but we had found the small steenbuck kill, so we waited...and waited...but nothing, so I gave up and was driving out of the area when a leopard moved out of the grass right in front of us!

It was one of the “cubs” – a nine month old leopard that we believed belongs to Java Dam female and are the two cubs born in Scholtz Camp in December last year.  The area was not thick, but a lot of little mopanes made it easy for the three leopards to hide, but our patience paid off, and we eventually got to photograph all the leopards except the mother, so my positive ID on her still remains elusive.

Still, for leopards that I know have seen vehicles only twice before today (well, Motswari vehicles anyway, and as we are the only ones that drive there, I assume that is it!), they were quite tolerant of us, and we ended up within 15m of the young male – and wow, what gorgeous cubs they are!

Java Dam female's female cub

The other cub which i think could have been a male?
We spent the rest of the evening with them before moving back to the camp, leaving the lions for tomorrow...oh how I am enjoying that luxury of not having to worry about lions at the moment!
I just need some more obliging leopards now!
And as can be seen from my collection of images from the last week, they have been quite obliging!  It was a wonderful week – sightings of Umfana, Rockfig Jnr with my photographic group (although sadly I left my camera at the lodge – explains why she performed so well for them!), also Rockfig Jnr and the cub on a kill, Nthombi and her cub on a kill, Makepisi male on a kill, Motswari Pride on a kill, Ximpoko male lions on a kill...thats a lot of dead animals last week!!!  The week also included plenty of buffalo bulls, wonderful elephants around camp, some lovely rhinos across the reserve, and evena  sighting of two cheetahs!  Just waiting for the wild dogs to come back!!!  Even the nocturnal game played along – civets, genets, hyenas, white-tailed mongooses and several owls.

Motswari pride young lioness

Umfana male

Makepisi male feeding

Mtenga-tenga male rhino up in the north of his territory for a change!

Mbali leopardess at Klipgat

Nthombi and her boy

Umfana male

Motswari lioness

Makepisi male


Mbali on the move