Sunday, 2 September 2012

31st August – Last Day of “Winter”!

Photo of the Day
Ximpoko male at night

Morning Drive

(Chad, Grant, Pete, Andrea and Shadrack)

4 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride on a buffalo kill) – Karans, Majavi Dam

1 x lion (Collared Ximpoko male) – Java, Vielmetter-Java Cutline

2 x leopards (Machaton male and Makepisi male) – Peru, Henk se Brug

2 x rhino (female and female calf)

1 x buffalo bull – Argyle, Argyle Dam

1 x buffalo bull – Argyle, Crossing Below Argyle Dam

5 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Wisani Crossing (on walk)

3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Motswari Dam (on walk)


Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Grant, Godfrey, Andrea and Shadrack)

4 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride on a buffalo kill) – Karans, Majavi Dam

1 x lion (Collared Ximpoko male) – Java, Vielmetter-Java Cutline

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Marula Overhang

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Illegal Crossing

3 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Argyle Dam

2 x buffalo bulls – Java, Java Dam

Daily Synopsis

With the mercury touching 36 degrees today, it is hard to believe that technically, today was the last day of winter; the cool weather seems like a distant memory already!

My mission was to get to the Mafikizolo Pride at first light and enjoy some good photographic opportunities of them at their kill – once more watching the sunrise over the eastern horizon was a wonderful as we bounced along to the lions.

Kudu and giraffe before sunrise
The lions were not alone this morning, and many vultures had gathered in the trees nearby, as well as on the ground; they too were accompanied by a small clan of hyenas and a couple of black-backed jackals.  There was not an awful lot of interaction, but the one young lion and lioness would walk around scent marking when the hyenas came too close, and the jackal chanced his luck getting even closer before being noticed.

Vultures, hyenas and jackals gather around the lions and their buffalo carcass
Leaving the lions, we moved back to the central areas hoping to find some sign of leopard, but it was a bit quiet in general – we saw kudu, giraffe and impalas, but nothing to be photographed.  Grant then managed to track down two leopards near Illegal Crossing along the Nhlaralumi – Machaton male and Makepisi male having a bit of a fight over presumably a meal, as Makepisi was covered in blood.  The leopards both moved down into the riverbed, and I managed to get a short and distant visual of the impressive Machaton male as he sauntered off south along the river – no photos, but good to see him in the daylight for a change.

Mafikizolo Pride
I carried on back north for some coffee, and passed male nyala, impala and kudus, but once again, the morning was a bit quiet.  After coffee I checked on Argyle Dam and saw our hippos, our crocodile (and his new partner), waterbuck and a couple of lone buffalo bulls in the area before returning to camp for a yummy breakfast.

Crocodile, waterbuck, massive croc, hippos and buffalo bull around Argyle Dam
The afternoon was a warm one, so hitting the dams made sense, and Argyle Dam produced three buffalo bulls and the hippos, with impalas and kudu bulls nearby.

Buffalos and kudus
As elephants had been scarce the last few drives, I decided to head to the southern areas where a few herds had been reported passing Vielmetter earlier in the afternoon; I went past Java Dam and enjoyed another two buffalo bulls and a family of warthogs in the dam.

More buffalo bulls and warthogs at Java Dam
Giyani had found a leopard in the area the elephants had been seen, so moved there passing wildebeest, zebras and impalas as we went, but as the leopard could not be relocated, I went to help Grant with the elephants and managed to pick them up in the company of some more kudus.  It was not great for photos, but what an amazing experience!  The one elephant calf walked past us and stopped to eat near the front of the vehicle – as she stood wagging her tail to hit the flies, it was whacking into the front of my Land Rover!  We eventually left the herd and moved to see if our luck could extend to leopards.

Zebra, impala, lovely elephant herd (with a rare species called Jacky!) and some nyala ewes
The nyalas were alarm calling in the vicinity where Giyani had seen the leopard, but we were unable to locate on anything, so stopped for a wonderful sundowner at Leopard Rock Hide instead as the full moon rose behind us.

After dark I went and joined Grant with the lone Ximpoko male lion that had been found on Java in the morning.  Grant kindly stayed and illuminated the lion from the side for us providing some wonderful photographic opportunities!

The male then moved off north, and we stuck with him for a bit, hoping that his separation from his partner (who was way south mating with a lioness) would cause him to roar.  He went static on a small termite mound, and as I was about to leave, he yawned with a grunt, and I knew it was coming........we all just then sat and enjoyed the most amazing sound in Africa...a roaring lion!

Lone Ximpoko male lion

Totally satisfied with our afternoon, we made our way back to the camp to round off another good day in the bush.

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