Wednesday, 22 August 2012

21st August – North’s Fine Form Returns!

Photo of the Day
Elephant calf in the water

Morning Drive

(Chad, Marka, Herold and Shadrack)

2 x lions (Ximpoko males) – Peru, Wild West North

1 x leopard (Xindzuti male) – Peru, Woza-Woza Cutline

3 x rhino (male, female and female calf)

2 x rhino (skittish rhinos)

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Wedge River Rd

1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Peru, Wild West North

1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Jaydee, Tchwala Rd

2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Southern Access

Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Marka, Herold and Grant)

2 x lions (Ximpoko males) – Peru, Wild West North

3 x rhino (male, female and female calf)

2 x rhino (skittish rhinos)

2 x rhino (sub-adult male and female)

1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Argyle, Buffalo Pan

2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Camp

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Karans, Top Rd East

3 x elephant bulls – Karans, Majavi Dam

2 x elephant bulls – Borneo, Trough

1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp

Daily Synopsis

I really don’t want to curse this run of game-viewing, but today was yet another very enjoyable day at Motswari, with loads of Big 5 and general game sightings, most pleasingly, all concentrated in the north!

For a change, things got off to a good start with a herd of elephants, some buffalo bulls and two rhinos (albeit somewhat skittish) being found by our guides within the first 10 minutes of drive.  I chose to respond to Shaddy’s elephants to the north of camp, and fortunately I did, as it turned out to be the sighting of the day for me and my guests! 

While only impala and steenbuck showed themselves as we headed to the elephants, the elephant herd stole the show – about 40-odd elephants were making their way quickly through the bush, from tiny babies to massive elephant bulls as they passed a little clearing at the top of the hill.  Some trailing bulls were play fighting while the herd moved quickly south-west.

Large elephant herd
We had left the elephants, but caught up with them as they crossed into Ingwelala, and then re-emerged at the natural dam on the Sohebele River right at the border of Motswari and Ingwelala, making for an amazingly picturesque scene in some stunning light!

Picture-perfect scene along the Sohebele River

Once more I tried to leave, but as we did, the rest of the herd came down to the dam and rther than drinking on the rocks, all of them walked into the water and drank in front o us – once more, from large bulls to small calves!  It really was a fantastic sighting, especially as group after group made their way down to the water!

My best elephant sighting in a long time!
Eventually the elephants had stopped coming, and we made our way west to where some rhinos had been found, as well as tracks for the two cheetahs and two Ximpoko males, so it seemed a good bet.  We had some good general game on the way, with impala, waterbuck, steenbuck, warthog and a nice herd of giraffes all showing themselves.

Waterbuck, warthog and giraffes
We managed to relocate the three rhinos; mother, calf and the large northern male, but unlike the last time we saw the mother in the company of a male, this time was not a friendly affair.  The mother and calf looked very settled as they all fed, with the male about 20m away, but everytime he moved, the mother rhino would growl at him!

Rhino and calf
This indicated that she wasn't happy with his presence, and when she eventually turned her head, we could see why!  She had already had a fight with him and sustained a large cut under her eye – thankfully though, the wound was very superficial and nothing to worry about, but the intent of the male ahs to be questioned – is he trying to chase off the young calf to try and mate with the mother?  It is not uncommon for male rhinos to kill rhino calves that are not their own, so we just have to hope that the mother keeps doing a good job protecting her calf!

Mother rhino sporting fresh wounds inflicted by the large rhino bull in their presence

Johannes was sitting with the buffalo herd nearby, and noticed them continually staring north, so he went to investigate and found the two Ximpoko male lions resting nearby!  We were close by so went and joined him with the lions, passing the buffalo as we went; the lions were sleeping, but far more awake than last night!  They both had their heads raised and the large one even moved a bit, but he buffalo had sadly sensed their presence and moved off, so we left the area and went for coffee before making our way home.

Ximpoko male lions a bit more lively than yesterday

While those were my sightings, Herold also found Xindzuti male on his way to the lions, and Marka found another herd of buffalos – other sightings in the north that our guides didn’t respond to were some of the Mafikizolo lions nearby to where we had seen the elephants in the morning, a leopard a bit further west of that, and another large herd of buffalo coming in from Ingwelala...the north was definitely the place to be today!

The afternoon thus saw a few more vehicles move into the area as both the lions and rhinos were relocated, so Grant had himself a great first drive with those sightings as well as a herd of buffalos.  Herold and Marka tracked down the large elephant herd to the east, and Marka also had more buffalo bulls, some rhinos and elephant bulls in the east.

I made my way south via Argyle Dam where there was a load of general game – the hippos, plenty of kudus, waterbuck and impalas.

Plenty f kudu and waterbuck around Argyle Dam
The trip south was uneventful, but we got to the hyena den and found 4 adults and 5 cubs out the den, but after the adults left, only the two bigger cubs remained out and the three babies moved back into the hole.

Hyena Den
A drag mark was found for a kill of Umfana male leopard near Entrance Dam, so I went to check the area after the remains of a steenbuck had been found, but there was no further sign of him, so I went for a drink instead.  The only spots we did see were those of giraffe, and they seemed to be coming out of the woodwork on Vielmetter!

Giraffe dwarfed by a marula tree

After drinks I double checked Entrance Dam, but found only living steenbuck, duiker and even two rhinos nearby, but it was getting dark, so we couldn’t view them for long.

The trip back to the lodge didn’t produce much besides some bushbabies, zebra and wildebeest in the dark, but not the leopard I had hoped for; still, it was another great day, and a wonderful one to end my little blog stint on!  Grant will be taking over blog duties from tomorrow for a few days, so I will catch up with you all again on the weekend!

Happy virtual game viewing J


  1. Thank for the updates over the last few days Chad. Some stunning photos as always from you.

    The elephants put on a great show for you today.


  2. And there you surprise me with a very, very early posting, Chad. Such a stunning virtual drive. This is a very nice end to my hectic day. Thank you, Chad.

  3. Looks like you had a great day! Such beautiful elephant pictures. Thanks as always.