Wednesday, 5 September 2012

4th September – Now He’s A Real Lion!

Photo of the Day

One of the Sohebele male lions - looking more and more impressive each time we see him!

Morning Drive

(Grant, Chad, Andrea and Shadrack)

1 x lion (Sohebele male) – Mbali, White Syringa Rd

1 x leopard (Nthombi’s boy with steenbuck kill) – Vielmetter, Steep Sharalumi

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Karans, Southern Access

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Scholtz, Kudu Pan Rd South

1 x elephant bull – Scholtz, River Rd

4 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Argyle Dam

20 x buffalo bulls – Jaydee, Vielmetter-Alberts Cutline

3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Southern Access


Afternoon Drive

(Grant, Chad, Andrea and Shadrack)

1 x lion (Sohebele male) – Scholtz, Kudu Pan Rd South

4 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride) – Peru, Long Rd

1 x leopard (Nthombi’s boy with steenbuck kill) – Vielmetter, Steep Sharalumi

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Long Rd

4 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Long Rd

1 x elephant bull – Scholtz, Jackal Pan


Daily Synopsis
Today was definitely a case of quality over quantity, and as can be seen from the photos, while we didn’t see as much as we have done the last few days, what we saw definitely made up for it!
It was a cool and cloudy day, and as the weather man promised, we even got a touch of rain, but barely enough to even settle the dust.
The morning saw me heading along the northern boundary hoping to get lucky with the wild dogs, but it produced nothing but a few birds for the first half an hour or more.  We eventually picked up a herd of kudus, but it was terribly quiet as me made our way into an area where Marka had tracks for the pack of dogs, but despite checking the area, we didn’t find anything further.

Kudu herd on a quiet morning
The southern stations had followed a drag mark for Nthombi and it led them to Steep Sharalumi where her cub was found resting on a rock near the kill, so we made our way to that side, literally seeing only one impala and two steenbuck in the windy weather.  Luckily, the leopard sighting was a good one, albeit at a bit of a distance compared to our usual viewing as it was quiet inaccessible; still, the young male posed beautifully on the rock before we parted company and went to look for some rhinos.

Nthombi's boy chilling on some rocks
Rather than finding the rhinos, we did come across a large herd of buffalo bulls, and enjoyed watching them feeding before going for a cup of coffee, with only some distant giraffes, zebras and impalas keeping us company.

Buffalo bulls
Andrea had opted to track down fresh tracks for a lion instead of going to the leopard, and it paid off, as she soon located a gorgeous young male lion walking through the bush – she was not sure of the ID, but he sounded extremely relaxed and allowed Grant and Shaddy time to go and visit him; even Grant could not give a positive ID, and thought that while a bit smaller than the Mahlathini males, he was too big for one of the Sohebeles... but upon seeing the photos of him after drive, he did turn out to be none other than one of the Sohebele males that is turning into a REAL lion at last!  And what a good-looking boy he is!  He was in great condition, although he was sporting a fresh gash in his back leg, most likely from a hunting incident with a warthog or buffalo or something?
I sadly didn’t make it to see him in the morning, so in the afternoon I made my way to where he had been left.
Heading in the east was quiet, but the silence was broken by the rattling of a honey badger next to the road!  We stopped and watched the little agitated boy, but he soon relaxed and carried on watching us in a more relaxed manner!  We don’t often seen these amazing animals, let alone in the day, and let alone this relaxed!  He even started feigning death, but when that didn’t work, he decided to just ignore us and carry on digging in a hole before slowly walking off to feed, concluding my best ever honey badger sighting at Motswari!

Honey badger digging for a meal!
What a bonus, so with high hopes we went to check on the lion, but it was in a tricky area and we saw nothing where we were told he had been left; it was on the riverbanks of the Sohebele river, so rather than letting Petros go off on his own in the thick bush, I quickly joined him for a walk around, and we went down into the river and walked a couple hundred metres to the south, but found no sign of him; so we went back up to the bank and walked along the ridge, but were still finding nothing until we almost walked into the male lion just lying behind a bush watching us some 20m away!  The heart-rate jumped a bit, but the lion just sat watching us, showing no intention of eating us, so we slowly backed off and walked the 100m to the Land Rover to collect the guests and drove in to enjoy a great sighting of him as he lay posing and yawning for us.

Sohebele male lion
He eventually got up and moved to a new spot, so we repositioned as we waited for Grant and Andrea to come into the area; they had been tracking the Mafikizolo Pride from Motswari to the south, and while they were on fresh tracks, wanted to ensure that their guests at least got to see some lions...and they did in the end, as for the second time today, Andrea managed to find the lions!

So with them not coming our side, we left the Sohebele  male as he walked off to the south, no doubt looking for the other two brothers.
We tried to follow up on fresh rhino tracks, but they entered a massive block of land as the gloom of the day was taking over, so we enjoyed a large elephant bull in the area instead before going for a drink at Majavi Dam with an active hippo and a nearby jackal.

elephant bull
After drinks, the promised rain began to fall, but only for a few minutes, but it was enough to draw us back to camp a bit earlier after attempts to go see the Mafikizolo Pride failed when they were lost going into a small mopane thicket; still, we were not complaining about the special sightings we had seen today...
The weatherman tells us it will rain tomorrow, so I think I should probably get the sunscreen out, as we all know how bad his predictions can be!


  1. Looks like they all struck a pose for you, Mr Cocking.

  2. I always love the background colours of the Mopaniveld!

  3. What a great day, and well done Andrea for finding all the lions :-)
    Great photos as always Chad!!! And great honey badger sighting.

    Must have been a great experience walking into the lion on foot :-)


  4. Beautiful lion with his almond shaped eyes and honey colored mane. Thanks again for bringing us the stunning pictures.