Monday, 24 September 2012

23rd September – You Get What You Ask For!

Photo of the Day

Machaton male leopard

Morning Drive

(Chad, Herold, Peter and Marka)

3 x lions (Machaton lioness and two male cubs) – Java, Vielmetter-Java Cutline

1 x leopard (Umfana male) – Vielmetter, Mananga Cutline

1 x leopard (Makepisi male) – Peru, Pagati Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Mangawaan Rd

1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Hippo Rocky Rd


Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Giyani, Herold, Peter and Marka)

1 x leopard (Machaton Male) – Mbali, Western Cutline

3 x rhino (male, female and calf)

1 x rhino

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Back Nines

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Nyosi Confluence

1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Ekuvukeni Access

10 x buffalo bulls – Vielmetter, Nyosi Confluence


Daily Synopsis

They say it doesn’t help to complain...but it does!  The hot weather we were complaining about yesterday was already a distant memory when we woke up to a cool, cloudy and rather windy we began complaining that now we were too cold and didn’t want the wind – are we ever happy? (and by “we”, I mean “I”!!!!)

My one guest’s wish was to see the hyena den, so again, I headed in that direction, although I did check a touch further east, but besides impalas and steenbuck, there wasn't much to write about.

Luckily, Shaddy, who is driving at Java for a few days, was on fire – he found Umfana male leopard not far north of the hyena den, so I made my way to that area after hearing that the wind had kept the hyenas in their den, sadly!

Umfana was walking towards the eastern boundary through some rather thick bush, but we managed to keep up with him as he was clearly intent on finding a meal...we followed him as best we could until the vehicle stopped a hole!  The steep drainage line was too much for the Land Rover, but with a bit of adjustments (and six guests pushing me) we managed to get out and upon locating a nearby herd of impalas knew that the leopard would be sitting watching them somewhere and we soon found him; sadly he stalked the impalas across the boundary and we had to leave the area.

Umfana male leopard stalking impalas

We checked again on the hyenas, but found nothing – fortunately Shaddy had also found the Machaton lions on Java, so we moved to see them.  Just last night I had been asking Morne from Kings what had happened to them after this same female and two of the young males had been found with a buffalo kill last week – while they fed well, the hyenas had stolen it from them, and they moved off way south to Umlani.  So it was a surprise to find them all the way back in the north this morning until we heard that the Ximpoko males were in the south!  The Machatons appear to be down to only three cubs and three lionesses.  The one that was sleeping on Java was with two of the cubs and looking in fair condition; the lone lioness is apparently also in good shape, but the old granny and the cub she is with are both looking very skinny, so that does not bode well.  Again, this whole process was inevitable as soon as the Ximpokos killed the first cub and expressed their intent at a pride take over, but it still doesn’t make watching a pride be decimated any easier. 

Machaton lioness and two male cubs

The lions were fast asleep, so we went in search of elephants, and while not finding the big herd I was after, we did find a small breeding herd and spent time watching them before a warming cup of coffee.

Small herd of elephants
I tried to track down the rhino and calf, but our time ran out, so we made our way back north – we saw a nice herd of giraffes as well as a breeding herd of buffalo as we made back, in addition to many more impalas and waterbuck before arriving back for a most welcomed warm breakfast.

Dug beetle, giraffe, warthogs and buffalo herd

The afternoon was still a gloomy affair, and it appeared that the animals decided to call it a day early, as it was reasonably quiet out there this afternoon.  I began checking Motswari Wedge after Johannes had seen tracks for the Motswari Pride moving in from Ingwelala, but besides a lone female giraffe and a horribly distant elephant, we didn’t see much.

Giraffe and distant elephant

Johannes lived up to his reputation when he located on Machaton male leopard on Western Cutline (just for a change!!!), and the guides held him for a surprisingly long time, but he eventually went into the riverbed and was left alone; I slowly headed to the area passing impala, steenbuck and some kudus on the way.

The leopard was eventually relocated near Broken Dam, and we had a fair sighting of him, although he was always lying in the thickets on the bank, but we got to see him a bit before moving towards Java Dam where another leopard was sleeping on the dam wall.  Sadly, he also moved off as we were approaching, so we didn’t even bother trying.

Machaton male leopard

The hyena den was partially active, and when I was informed that all five cubs were out, I thought I should make an effort to go see it seeing as it has been so quiet of late, but on arrival, only the big cub was out with two adults, but within minutes all had left and we were left looking at an empty hole!

One hyena did join us on “sundowners”, and heading back we ticked off side-striped jackal and African wild cat, but compared to drives of late, it was reasonably quiet...the forecast is for good weather tomorrow, so maybe it will bring the game out again!

The other guides enjoyed sightings of elephants, buffalos and rhinos, so did have slightly busier drives than me, so maybe I am complaining about nothing! ;)


  1. Thanks for the wonderful "Armchair Safari" Chad, as well as the gorgeous photographs!! Oh, how I wish I could go to Motswari and be a part of one of your drives... dream some true but sadly not possible. Thank you again Chad for your incredible contribution!
    Carol Amante from Face Book

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience through your magnificent photo's Chad.

    Rob Fleming