Wednesday, 8 August 2012

07th August – Long Lost Lions Return!

Photo of the Day
Mafikizolo male licking his lips after eating Nthombi leopardess's kill

Morning Drive

(Chad, Shadrack and Herold)

2 x lions (Mafikizolo male and female with Nthombi’s kill) –Kings, Tamboti Drive

2 x lions (Jacaranda young lionesses) – Peru, Old Gate

2 x leopards (Nthombi and Cub) – Kings, Tamboti Drive

1 x rhino (relaxed male)

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Double Highway

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Entrance Dam

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

2 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Leadwood Access

Afternoon Drive
(Herold, Johannes, Shadrack and Andrea)

Rhino (x 1 male)
Lion (x 2 Jacaranda females) / Peru - Mbali Riv er Road
Leopard (x 1 male) / Peru - Xinkovanini Road North
Elephant (Breeding Herd) / Peru - Giraffe Kill

Daily Synopsis

So, this is my last blog post for a while, and I will be leaving you in the capable hands of Ms Andrea Campbell who will take over from this afternoon’s drive...I just hope that she had half as good a drive as I had this morning!

I had some guests that were just with me for one drive, and they asked to see giraffe and rhino, while my other guests wished for more leopards. Easy.

I headed out towards Vyeboom Dam, and after steenbuck, bushbuck and impalas, we got our first animal on the list –a small herd of giraffes that we spent some time watching.

Giraffe and impalas

While with them, I was informed of a rhino not all that far from us, so we bumbled in that direction, enjoying more impalas and baboons as we went.

Baboons warming up in the morning on Vyeboom Dam wall

We arrived to the sighting of our new northern male rhino – he was quite static, but very alert as he stood in a small mopane thicket. He soon decided that this was a good place to rest and went to sleep.

Male rhino

So two down, and when Nthombi and her cub were located in the south at Elephant Dam, my guests asked to go see them, so off I went. I didn’t get very far, as Herold had miraculously bumped into some surprise visitors in the north....lions! I honestly thought he was joking when he said I must drive a couple hundred metres forward to join him...i didn’t believe him until I saw the two tawny cats walking across a small clearing! It was the two Jacaranda lionesses that have been absent for some time, but were looking in very good shape! We watched them until they settled and then continued south.

Two young Jacaranda lionesses make a welcomed return to the north

Things were getting interesting there, and Nthombi was taking her cub to a kill...however, the southern stations had been following a male and female lion that arrived at Nthombi’s kill, climbed the tree and pulled it out and began feeding on it!

The two leopards were making their way there, and I drove some distance down to see them now, but was hoping it would be worth it – I arrived just after Nthombi had spotted the lions and the cub had run up the safety of a tree! Fortunately, the lions didn’t see the leopards, and Nthombi coaxed her son out of the tree, and he came running to join mom before both went trotting off back from where they came! We had a short but nice sighting of them before they moved down into the Nhlaralumi!

Nthombi and her cub retreating from their stolen kill

I then went to see the lions (sadly I had missed the big male lion climbing the tree again as I was with the leopards), and immediately saw that it wasn't the Ximpoko male as had been suggested, but rather the gorgeous young Mafikizolo male and one of the young females from the pride. He lay grooming himself, but as it was once again already quite late in the morning and I found myself many miles from camp, I had to make way and with a big dash of speed head campward.

Mafikizolo male after eating Nthombi's kill - he had to climb a tree to get it!

In typical fashion, the animals then all came out – a couple of herds of elephants spread out over the southern portions of Vielmetter interspersed with a large journey of giraffes and more elephants drinking at Entrance Dam.

Impalas and another couple of giraffe were ticked off along the road home, but we didn’t mind not stopping for them as we had seen so much this morning, hopefully making for one memorable drive for my guests.

Giraffe and elephants coming out of the woodwork on Vielmetter

Not only did Chad leave me on blog duty but he also took my camera!!! Ok, so it hasn't been working all too well of late and he has taken it into JHB to be fixed but that leaves me with my very old camera (with a major light leak) and one of Chad's incredibly heavy (hard to use) lenses. So, please forgive me over the next couple of days as the photos are going to be more of an indication of what we have seen rather than any creative display. Camera excuses aside the afternoon started with very forceful gusts of wind which sent my cap flying off my head (sometimes it is useful to have long hair and a pony tail as this usually catches my hat). Animals are always a little more nervous when its windy and today was no exception, however, despite the wind we still had a rather successful afternoon. A small bachelor herd of impala sat anxiously on the airstrip, clearly not wanting to be seen or heard. We then headed down to Argyle Dam, and only the local crocodile was out sunning himself up on the bank. Shadrack soon found a male rhino and so headed that way. After only a brief glimpse though, he headed into very thick mopane belt. We looped around, hoping to catch him on the other side and with a bit of luck we relocated him in a relatively open area. He was rather nervous and did not feel like posing for any pictures. Two female sub-adult lion had been found near Mbali River Road so I decided to head that way before drinks. The thing I love (and only occasionally find a bit frustrating sometimes) is how quickly things change out here in the bush. As we were driving along, trying to get to the lion (which have been so scarce lately) we bumped into a leopard on the hunt. It was such a quick and surprising sighting that I didn't even manage to get one shot! It was however, so unexpected that we were all very excited. He shot off into thick bush and then darted up the drainage line. Predators utilize the windy weather to the advantage and this is exactly what this male was doing. Although it was not the best visual, it was still great to see him in action and for the guests to comprehend how incredibly quick and agile these cats can be. By the time we got close to where the lion were, the visual had been lost and instead we found a herd of elephant. We watched them come up the riverbank and then one got a fright so the whole herd tightened the group and ran across the road right next to the car. It is an awesome sight watching a herd of elephant moving so quickly. We looped around and sat with them as the sun went down, watching the youngsters slowly follow behind mom. I never tire of elephants! After a quick drinks stop, we started on back to camp hoping to get lucky with the 2 lion but unfortunately is was a rather dark, windy and very quiet drive back. We had still had a good afternoon and so we will just have to try for lion tomorrow.
Until then,



  1. Unfortunately Chad, you've missed the snow in our valley. You will however experience the cold. Bet there will be a comment or two about it on your next write up.
    Good to have you back, Andrea. I for one will handle the light leak on your old camera as long as we can make the drives with you. Can you not hi-jack Grant's memory card to help out?

  2. Fantastic...thank you!!!
    Astrid Annabelle