Monday, 20 August 2012

19th August – Run Lions, Run!!!

Photo of the Day

Hyena cubs at the den

Morning Drive

(Chad, Marka, Herold, Shadrack and Grant)

1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Peru, Elephant Crossing

1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Mbali, Java Dam Rd

10 x buffalo – Peru, Mvubu Crossing

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Illegal Crossing

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing

Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Marka, Herold and Shadrack)

4 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride) – Peru, Ndlamithi Bamba Rd

2 x rhinos (female and female calf)

1 x rhino (semi-relaxed bull)

1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Henk se Brug

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Camp Dam

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Giraffe Kill Lookout

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Western Cutline

Daily Synopsis

Sunday was another glorious “winter’s” day in the bush, but was a touch frustrating on the lion front – we were all keen for some lions today; Shaddrack’s lion tracks pursuing buffalo north of the camp frustratingly crossed off the property, and on the other two occasions when trackers were sent on foot to track lions we felt optimistic....until the trackers located the lions on foot on both occasions and just ran off...oh dear.

Anyway, I started out and headed a bit south, wanting to look for the buffalo herd from yesterday, hoping that the lions would be following behind them; the general game was very good today – along Western Cutline we ticked off impalas (....actually, many of them! So amazing we didn’t see one yesterday afternoon!), steenbuck, kudu bulls and a herd of zebras.

Kudu and zebra

We then went to have a look at the buffalo herd that were moving back towards Mbali Dam from Java Dam, but sadly had no lions trailing –the trackers were busy on fresh, fresh tracks just to the north as I pulled out and went to see some nearby elephants along the river – the trackers told me to come back as they knew they were close, but soon mentioned they had found the two lionesses, but they ran off in different directions – despite continuing to scout the area, we saw no further sign of them!

Buffalo and elephant herds, with yellow-billed oxpeckers

Mbali leopardess had been located further south along the Nhlaralumi, so I made my way into that area, passing many waterbuck, kudu, impala and a warthog along the way – there was also a nice herd of elephants drinking water in the riverbed from holes that they were busy digging with their feet.

Kudu, crocodile and elephant herd

Mbali had been lost, so I stopped for some coffee and gave the stations time to relocate her, which fortunately they did...only to lose her again...and then to find her once more as I was pulling into the area, so after not being sure I would see her, we enjoyed a nice sighting as the old girl walked about looking for a meal – she was looking in good condition, and we left her after a while as she went to drink at a puddle in the Nhlaralumi.

Shaddy and his guests enjoying a sighting of Mbali

Heading home along the river, we were treated to the buffalo herd drinking at one of the larger pools on the one side of us, while elephant drank in the river on the opposite side, rounding off a great morning of viewing.

Elephant and buffalo herds together and a bushbuck eating waterlilies at Marula Pan

In the afternoon I again received some new guests and began the drive with a nice herd of elephant near the camp dam wall, as well as impala, steenbuck and kudus in the area too.

Elephant herd near camp

My intention was to visit the hyena den this afternoon, so I had to ignore the temptation to go west to where the mother rhino and calf had been found, where tracks for the cheetahs were, and were the Mafikizolo Pride had been tracked on foot, only to have run off...twice in one day!

I went via the east, and explained that it would be quiet, but hopefully we would bump into some rhino (I always say that, but never expect to find one!); it was quiet, and we soon saw rhino tracks, but as it was for the big skittish male, I wasn't intending to follow up, but a few hundred metres down the road I spotted him standing about 80m away in the mopane thickets; we gave time and slowly approached closer – each time he would run a bit, but soon started running in a circle back towards us to stop and watch us –as it turned out, it was a very good sighting of him in the open, and we left him standing dead still watching us – very encouraging news if this massive boy were to relax!

My best sighting so far of this nervous male rhino

I carried on south and it was a touch quiet, but we did see impala, steenbuck and wildebeest along the route.

Impala and wildebeest

The hyena den was partially active – all five cubs were out with three mothers, but after the small cubs’ mother moved off, they returned to the hole, leaving just the bigger cubs asleep drinking milk from their mums.

Hyena cubs

We stopped for a wonderful sundowner before hearing that Marka had beaten the odds and actually located four of the Mafikizolo lions, and while it was literally on the opposite side of the reserve, I knew it was my guests last drive, so headed that way anyway – the night drive produced giraffe, civet and hyena before arriving at the lions.

They were in a massive mopane belt, but we had a fair sighting considering this fact, and the fact that the large relaxed male wasn't there!

Saddle-billed stork at sunset and Mafikizolo young male lion

Leaving them late, I headed home along the tar road, and we didn’t see much as our time was out, but on Ingwelala airstrip we had a lovely side-striped jackal, hyena and a herd of wildebeest before closing down after another successful Big 5 day at Motswari!

Hope this great run of game viewing continues!
Side-striped jackal


  1. What a lovely hyena cub footprint!!!!
    I love your blog. Thanks
    Maia Afrika(facebook)

  2. All 5 in 1 day!!! Plus extra. Thanks Chad.

  3. I hope your luck holds true when we reach in September this year - would be wonderful to see the Big 5 but the big cats definitely is the top of our requirement