Saturday, 20 October 2012

19th October: Frustrations Reign Supreme.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Shadrack.)

Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Airstrip Link.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Ingwelala Crossing.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Hamerkop Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Tawny Eagle Rd.
Leopard ( Machaton Male) / Peru – Phiva Plains.
Lion ( 1 x Mafikizolo Female) / Mbali – False Marula.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Shadrack.)

Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Sohobele Dam.
Leopard ( Machaton Male) / Peru – Phiva Plains.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Vielmieter – Double Highway.

Daily Synopsis.

With new guest aboard for morning drive it was a fresh start for us and a bit of a relief as we could direct some of our focus elsewhere apart from Lions. Having gone to sleep the night before to the sound of Lions taunting call beyond our Northern boundary it did not stop us from heading directly to our Northern boundary. If we did not get lucky there at least the road would take us to were Argyle Jnr and her cubs were the previous evening with their Impala kill, maybe we would get lucky there. Checking along the boundary it was nice to take in the smaller things like the Steenbok and Duiker once again, sometimes you get so caught up looking for one species that you are blind to everything else. Not finding anything we made our way into the Tsharalumi River where Argyle Jnr had her kill on the Western bank but like the Lions it looked like she also headed North. Checking the surrounding rocks and thick vegetation there was also no sign of her offspring. We did find a small herd of Buffalo that was feeding on the lush grass of the riverbank. 

While sitting with them we received news that Lion tracks had been found a little South of us with more than enough people following up we chose to avoid the congestion and headed for a breeding herd of Elephant. Along our way we bumped into another breeding herd of Buffalo, this time it was far larger, no wonder we had Lions in the area. Not being able to bypass them our arrival to the Elephant was momentarily delayed. Getting into the sighting a while later we positioned ourselves perfectly as they broke through a Mopane thicket and out into the open heading directly in our direction. Having placed the vehicle in amongst small shrubs we hoped they would approach closer to feed. We were not to be disappointed on this occasion as dually obliged and approached the vehicle to within a couple metres and began feeding on the small shrubs. It was only to get better though as a mom and calf, no older than a couple weeks, also joined in and began digging within touching distance. We all sat in silent awe of these magnificent creatures and for a short while became fellow herd members, no better experience in the bush. 

With others waiting to access the sighting we made our way out as the Elephant moved off from the vehicle. Hearing that the Lion tracks had headed further South and into a property that the guys could not travel we took up the search with both Herold and myself dropping off Jacky and Diff to continue on the trail while Shadrack checked the surrounding roads. As we are only allowed one vehicle on the property at a time it gave me the opportunity to head off to see a Leopard that had been found out on the open area of Phiva Plains not far away. The Leopard was very shy and could only be viewed at a distance, judging from the size it looks like Machaton Male to me. Knowing his character we viewed him from afar while he sat on a nearby Termite mound giving him his space. We did not want to push him as we know that come nightfall we will be able to approach far closer and with the position of his kill in the Marula Tree it should provide a great sighting.

Nearing that time we decided to take a coffee break at the nearby Sohobele Dam hoping Jacky and the guys could work their magic. Returning to a very lively radio it sounded like the guys had in fact located on the Lions and Shaddy was sitting with one of them. Getting an update from him he mentioned that it was one of the Mafikizolo Females who they had located while she was trying to contact call to the other. Unfortunately she was very shy and was hiding under a Terminalia bush which she later exploded from and charged the vehicle before returning to the safety of her thicket. Trying to reposition himself Shaddy gave her some room which she took as the opportunity dash off in the opposite direction. It is possible that she reacted in this way as she had seen the trackers on foot and being alone she felt vulnerable. Not wanting to put any further pressure on her or her companion we chose not to respond and we all withdrew from the area. Maybe we will try again in the afternoon with the vehicle, hopefully they will have relaxed.

Shortly before heading out on drive I received a message that there were Lion tracks in our Central section that had been missed in the morning. Being desperate for Lion all three of us headed in their direction immediately on getting mobile. It has now been four days since our last Lion sighting and it looked like my guests of four nights who have seen some amazing things both big and small could possibly leave without seeing Lion. Arriving at the scene of the reported tracks there they were plain as day in the middle of the road. Following a whole bunch of sighing and head shakes we got to the business of following up again, this would be our third drive in a row that we would invest all our time to finding the “ King Of The Jungle”, lets hope it goes better than the last two. Sticking close to the trackers all three of us drove the immediate area's trying to speed things up but once again after a relatively easy start the tracks left the road and into thick grass and thus slowing everything down. With Jacky, Diff and Tiyani working well on the tracks and relocating them time after time they speedily headed to the South East but somewhere in the block they changed direction and began heading to the South West but always keeping to the block. Herold, myself and Shaddy drove the roads in the area multiple times double checking one another but found nothing and eventually not contributing anything to the search we dispersed to roads further afield to check that we had not missed something, once again we found nothing.

Consuming our entire afternoon we all took sundowners in the immediate vicinity hoping that either the trackers would pick up on something or we would get audio or any other little clue to their whereabouts, but drinks came and went without any signs. Loosing light we eventually had to pick up the trackers and begin our long trek North after yet another unsuccessful attempt. It was not like we had a bad afternoon as we still saw Kudu, Dwarf Mongooses, Wildebeest and a Honey badger during our search and on our way home we visited the sight of Machaton Males Impala kill were we found a Hyena snooping around the tree with the kill and later we found him resting to the East far more relaxed and allowing us to approach far closer than the morning, so all was not lost, just frustrating! We get one more chance in the morning, lets see what we can do with it!

Highlight Of The Day.

Following yesterdays White Helmeted Shrike battle today we witnessed another battle, this time between two Dung Beetles fighting over a fresh pile of Elephant dung. We had stopped to watch one beetle busy creating a ball of dung from the pile when another arrived on scene just as he was completing his work of art and rolling it away. The newcomer being a little larger promptly approached and dispossessed of his hard work. Not to give up easily the dispossessed Beetle stuck around for the next ten minutes trying various ways to reclaim his ball. At one stage he climbed to the top of the pile of Dung and sprung from above onto his assailant, unfortunately this was unsuccessful as he rolled over onto his back. We were transfixed and forgot totally that we were on our way to fetch Jacky, twenty minutes later I received a radio message asking me if I was lost. 


  1. Adorable baby ellie. Like the new "highlight of the day" feature! Thanks, Grant.

  2. Thanks so much for the Blog, for keeping us informed and for the the wonderful pictures. It was this time last year that we were at Motswari and this day last year that we saw three of the white lions. We wonder when they were last seen? Also where is Kuhanya she has not had a mention for ages?
    Greetings to you all
    Sue and John