Friday, 28 September 2012

27th & 28th September – Lest We Forget About the North!

Photo of the Day

Giyani and his Java guests enjoying a relaxed crash of rhinos grazing nearby

27th September Morning Drive

(Chad, Grant, Herold, Peter and Marka)

5 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride) – Peru, No Name Rd

13 x buffalo bulls – Borneo, Airstrip

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Bushwillow Way

4 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Camp Dam

1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp Dam

27th September Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Andrea, Herold and Marka)

3 x lions (Mafikizolo females) – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd

1 x leopard (Nthombi female) – Vielmetter, Sweetwater Pan

3 x rhinos (male, female and calf)

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

1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp Dam

1 x elephant bull – Mbali, Buffalo Kill Rd

3 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Crossing Below Argyle

28th September Morning Drive

(Chad, Andrea, Herold and Marka)

1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Peru, Pan Rd

2 x rhinos (male and female)

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Western Sharalumi

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Mangawaan Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Buffalo Kill Rd

6 x elephant bulls – Peru, Western Cutline

1 x elephant bull – Mbali, Java-Mbali Rd

28th September Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Grant, Andrea, Herold and Marka)

5 x lions (Mafikizolo pride) – Argyle, Gina’s Rd

2 x leopards (Argyle Jnr and Machaton male) – Argyle, Argyle Dam

1 x leopard (unidentified male) – Argyle, Mfene Crossing

1 x rhino

2 x rhinos (skittish mother and calf)

2 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Great North Rd

7 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Argyle Dam

2 x elephant bulls – Jaydee, Vielmetter-Alberts Cutline

Daily Synopsis

Sorry for merging the posts, but as I didn’t take many pics on the morning of the 28th, and none in the afternoon, I thought it would be a pretty boring blog, so this one is hopefully a bit more exciting!

After a great but slightly rushed afternoon yesterday, I just decided to chill a bit this morning, so we went out to the east; it wasn't overly productive, but we still had a good time seeing some zebras, impalas, hippo, a baker’s dozen of buffalo bulls and a giraffe before stopping for some coffee.

Impala and an irratated buffalo bull witha yellow-billed oxpecker

Earlier Marka had found the five Mafikizolo lions reunited, so after our coffee, we headed in that general direction, not seeing much along the way; the lions themselves were not too bad – they had their heads up from time to time, and considering it was late in the morning, that was more than expected from most lions – the young lioness was her usual grumpy self and mock charged as I was trying to reposition, but we gave hr her space and she soon settled down, so we left them to it and carried on.

Mafikizolo pride reunited and resting

At Argyle Dam there were several crocodiles around, the hippos, some waterbuck and a host of birds that finished off our morning before we went on a bushwalk and got to walk into four large elephant bulls and viewed them on foot as they drank at the camp dam.

The afternoon’s mercury had risen quite high, so we headed out and went to check along the riverbed, hoping to get lucky with some of the animals moving to the cooling shade and water it provided. A bull elephant had spent the whole day in front of camp, and was sporadically joined by nyala, impala and warthog, but the first half hour of the drive produced almost nothing!

We then came across a lovely, and very relaxed martial eagle posing in a tree right next to the road, so spent some time with it.

Martial eagle

A leopard had been seen on the banks of the Nhlaralumi not far from us, so we moved into the area to see if we could find him again, but saw no sign, so I left Petros on foot and carried on for a few hundred metres to where we found a lone elephant bull in the riverbed. While with him, Petros radioed to say that while he had not located the leopard, he had spotted three lions! The Mafikizolo lionesses had moved some distance from this morning’s position, but had run off when they saw Petros, so we raced around to the opposite bank and managed to relocate them together with Herold. They were not all that relaxed, so we kept a distance, but ended with a fair sighting; eventually they walked off and we made space for some other vehicles.

Mafikizolo lionesses

I had no sooner gotten back on a road when my vehicle died!!! Luckily, Petros and Difference arrived, and being a man of many talents, Petros found where I had bent the diesel pipe, fixed it and off we went. While they had still been on the tracks for the male leopard, they could see where it had been running – no doubt after having seen them, so we decided to cut our losses and head south to where Nthombi was near Sweetwater Pan.

We arrived in the area, but there was a bit of a line up, so we drove around a bit, and got lucky when Giyani called in three rhinos just ahead of where we were, so we popped in to see them very briefly before going to join Herold with the leopard.

Giyani and hs Java guests enjoying a crash of rhinos

She was very active walking around, and after sniffing around the area for some time, she moved to the north, and as it was getting late, we left her and made our way back towards camp. The drive was a bit uneventful, but we did see a white-faced owl and two hyenas along the way, as well as passing waterbuck, impala and steenbuck!

Nthombi leopardess and a couple of hyenas on the way home!
So while the day was filled with big game, we did struggle a bit with the sightings in between, but considering that we again saw some great things, I don’t think anyone actually minded!

The forecast is for a mild 40 degrees Celsius tomorrow, so that should be, well, hot!

And for once, the weatherman was correct! It was warm – not quite forty degrees, but the mercury rose to 37 by mid the shade!

My morning was a bit of a quiet affair, and I headed south hoping to get lucky with the hyena den, but when the sun’s rays were searing after only 15 minutes, I knew it was a bit of a pointless exercise. Still, we tried, and like the drive south, the hyena den had no life.

Carrying on around Vielmetter, Petros found two different sets of leopard tracks that he went on foot to follow up, and I carried on for a cup of coffee at Entrance Dam. Following coffee, he had yet to find anything, so I went to see two rhinos that had been left resting further west, but found a herd of elephants as I was going to the area.

Elephant herd
The rhinos were the subadult male and female, and in the heat of the morning, it was no surprise that they were just resting in the shade of a bush, so I left them and went back to Petros.

Resting rhinos

Along the route, we saw impala, warthogs, giraffes and zebras and eventually a Petros; sadly he had no luck and we had to leave as we were out of time...three hyenas resting at Hide Dam did draw our attention before we headed back north.

Giraffes, hyenas and a rock monitor up a tre

Along the way, Marka found Mbali leopardess, so he and Andrea got to see her, but it was a bit out of our reach, so we made our way to a heart breakfast at the lodge.

In the afternoon, I received a new group of guests, including one of our loyal blog followers, Dilip! From his comments on the blog, I knew how much he had been looking forward to this, so I was feeling a bit of pressure! As one of the group wished to sit up front with me, my camera sadly had to stay at the lodge...but I knew that leaving it behind would surely bring us good luck!

The Mafikizolo lions had been tracked down in the morning, so I was aiming to head there later, but I wanted to go look for leopard first, and in particular the granny, Mbali.

As it was hot, I thought it best to check a few days, so after some warthogs and waterbuck north of Argyle Dam, we arrived to find seven large elephants drinking at the dam, as well as a host of birds, hippos and crocodiles.

We drove around to the southern side of the dam to get closer to the elephants and after they moved on, we carried on; I was talking about the hippos and birds as we moved slowly along the southern side of the dam when a guest suddenly said “leopard”; not too far off, there was a gorgeous leopard tom sitting in the shade, and suddenly another leopard moved in front of him! Bonus!

It was Argyle Jnr and Machato male; having cubs, this was not a mating call, and after a short while he eventually got mobile east and she to the west – we couldn’t follow him, so went for her instead. Sadly she was walking across the river and Piva Plains, and felt very exposed in the open, so trotted off to the thickets to the west where we left her not wanting to put pressure on her.

The south was alive this afternoon; a crash of rhinos, elephants, buffalos and Nthombi leopardess...luckily, the north was even more productive, so we had no need to even leave Argyle property!

We checked the eastern side and saw many waterbuck, impala and several warthogs, then came across a male rhino that had been found earlier in the afternoon and watched as he walked across a nice open area.

Not far north, we arrive at the five Mafikizolo lions just as they were getting active and ready for their nights activities and spent the next three-quarters of an hour following them in the dark before we too had to leave and head campwards. Marka had also seen some buffalo in the area, making it a Big 5 afternoon in the north...oh, and I nearly forgot! Driving back to the lodge, we found another young male leopard standing in the road as we approached the airstrip! Amazingly he walked into the bush and disappeared, but after three leopards and great lions, none of us were complaining!

My camera will be sleeping tomorrow, so I just cant wait to see what we are going to see in the morning...


  1. Brilliant Chad... as always and your normal... Brilliant!!! Thanks Again
    Carol Amante from FB

  2. yeah someday...... love your pics and blog!