Thursday, 4 October 2012

1st and 2nd October – Our Pride Returns…with an Extra Member!

Photo of the Day

The gorgeous Nthombi

1st October Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant, Andrea and Marka)
1 x leopard (Argyle Jnr female) – Peru, Long Rd
1 x leopard (unidentified, relaxed young male) – Motswari, Northern Access
5 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
3 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Long Rd

1st October Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Andrea and Marka)
2 x lions (Jacaranda lionesses) – Argyle, Argyle Rd
2 x leopards (Nthombi and cub) – Kings, Double Highway
5 x rhinos
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Back 9s
5 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Camp
9 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Crossing Below Argyle
3 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Umbabat Cutline
4 x buffalo bulls – Vielmetter, Sweetwater Pan

2nd October Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant, Andrea and Marka)
7 x lions (3 males and 4 females) – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
1 x leopard (Nthombi female) – Vielmetter, Sweetwater Northern Access
3 x rhinos (male, female and calf)
10 x buffalo bulls – Vielmetter, Vielmetter-Alberts Cutline
4 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Northern Access
5 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing
1 x elephant bull – Karans, Western Cutline
1 x elephant cow – Peru, Boolala Rd

2nd October Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Andrea and Marka)
7 x lions (3 males and 4 females) – De Luca, Umbabat Cutline
6 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Ingwelala Crossing
1 x elephant – Argyle, Crossing Below Argyle
3 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Western Sohebele River Rd

Daily Synopsis
I was going to stick to my excuse of a slow internet for my delay in posting this, but it was more my slow brain that stopped me from doing an update yesterday, and a couple of individuals keeping me up until 1:30 last night, but I won’t mention names!

I’m wracking my brain to recall just what has happened the last couple of days, but the scorching heat is still slowing down my brain!  It has been very warm, but that hasn’t really stopped the good game viewing from continuing.

Monday morning was its usual quiet self, but you cant blame the animals for taking it easy at the start of a new week in the bush.  We bumbled around in the north, enjoying sightings of general game in the form of impala, steenbuck, kudus, waterbuck and giraffes; attempts at finding the Machaton male leopard and his impala kill were fruitless and he was not present at the kill. 

Kudus and impalas

We went for coffee at Argyle Dam and passed some buffalo bulls in the thickets, and then spent time having coffee and enjoying the hippos and crocodiles at the dam.

Hippos at Argyle Dam

I had no sooner gotten mobile when Herold radioed to tell me that he had found Argyle Jnr leopardess whilst out doing bush work, and as I was only 5 minutes away, I went to join him.  She was sadly not that relaxed today and we had to keep out distance in some very thick bush and rocky terrain making for a difficult sighting.  

Argyle Jnr moving through thick bush

We made space for Andrea and slowly headed back to camp while the trackers tried to track down the Mafikizolo Pride with no luck – seems the lions once more saw the trackers and ran off.

In the afternoon, we had been informed from a transfer to the lodge that two lionesses had crossed onto our property in the west, and they were located early in the afternoon, so I slowly headed there, but not before enjoying a fair bit of general game around Argyle Dam – sightings included impala, waterbuck, bushbuck and 9 buffalo bulls with one confused wildebeest below the dam!  The hippos and crocodiles were out and about, as were a good number of birds as we headed west.

Buffalo, a wildebeest wanting to be a buffalo, and a crocodile wanting to eat a buffalo

The lionesses were just resting in a mopane area, and were looking in fantastic shape!  Considering they have only just turned two years old, and that they have been on their own since February, it is amazing just how well they have done for themselves!

Jacaranda lionesses

I had some guests for just one drive, so I chose to head to the south to see some leopards, as I couldn’t count on Machaton male to return, so I headed down Argyle Road to the south.  I almost didn’t make the leopards, as Andrea was sitting with an extremely relaxed serval in the daytime!!!  Sadly, I was just a bit too far to get to her, so had to be made jealous by her photos instead; don’t worry, when she returns to blog duty one day, I am sure she’ll share them with you!

I bumbled around waiting for the line up to clear, and came across a hyena and some more buffalo before getting to the leopards.

The young boy was just chilling in the riverbed while mom rested high up on a tree on the bank – always great to see them together, but they were not in any mood to be active today sadly.

Nthombi and her boy

I went for drinks nearby, and must have just missed a 5 rhinos drinking at the dam, but it was already dark, so after a G&T, we headed back to the camp ticking off a civet and a glimpse of a hyena as we went.

The night in camp was exciting, although we all missed it by being in the boma!  A leopard killed an impala in front of the verandah and was trying to drag it to cover on the other side of the riverbed when a hyena came running past the boma and stole the kill, leaving the leopard hiding unseen in the shadows; we got to watch the hyena munching on the impala, but the leopard never returned unfortunately.

The next morning was a tough one to get out of bed on, but well worth it!

Starting with 5 elephant bulls a few minutes from camp, we just sat and enjoyed them feeding near our vehicle for a while before going to drop Petros off on some lion tracks just down the road; together he, Jacky and Moosa tracked down some lions, but sadly they kept running off when the trackers located them – Grant eventually located them in a vehicle, but the lions were now very nervous and moved off through horrible mopane thickets to the east, and were lost!  Andrea managed to locate them late in the morning, but had to keep her distance so as not to cause them to run off, making for a bit of a frustrating morning, especially as that pride of lions is normally super chilled with the vehicles…despite this though, the most interesting thing was that they appear to have adopted an extra pride member, and rather than only being six lions, the pride now has seven adults!  A fourth lioness was with the three males, and this behaviour of adding new pride members definitely fuels speculation that these lions are actually, in some way, part of the Jacaranda Superfamily!

My morning was far less frustrating and actually filled with animals; we saw plenty of impala, waterbuck, steenbucks, a lone female elephant and some good birds as we headed south.
A large group of buffalo bulls then popped up next to the road as we were going towards a rhino sighting.  The rhinos were the same three that we have been enjoying of late, and remained so relaxed in our presence, feeding right next to the vehicles as they went about their business.

Buffalo and rhinos

I left them to go see Nthombi leopardess again as she was resting high up in a marula tree nearby.  For a dozing leopard on a hot day, she put on a good show – she was awake most the sighting looking around and scanning for her next meal, even changing positions a few times for us!

Leaving her, we headed back north, enjoying just some general game as the drive drew to a close.

My afternoon was a chilled affair and all I wanted was to see the lions, so I bumbled about in the north until it got cooler.  We had sightings of hippos, kudus, impala and waterbuck near the camp, as well as another 6 elephant bulls whose company we enjoyed for a while.

Kudus, elephants and impalas

Moving towards more waterholes, we kept coming across sightings of kudus and impala before we made our way back to the east to where the lions were, now totally at ease with our presence again.
After a glorious sunset, we arrived at the lions just as they were starting to wake up and stretch in preparation for the nights activities; I made space for Marka, as they looked like they might get mobile into some very thick bush and I went for a drink to end off another successful day.

Our northern pride returning with a new member!
With such a glorious evening in the bush, we had dinner on the outside verandah and were spoilt with five hippos feeding in the riverbed, as well as a hyena ambling past during dinner, all while a nearly-full moon rose over the eastern horizon...i could think of many worse ways to spend the evening!


  1. stunning pictures ! I feel that I'm not in Argentina but in the bush with you!

  2. Chad you are making me feel so much worse than I already feel - I have been ploughing through the large number of emails all morning while you have been seeing leopards, lions and whatever else you saw. Without a doubt my heart and soul have stayed back at Motswari
    To make things worse on the way back from Nelspruit to Jo'burg our luggage was broken into and we lost some of our memory cards besides the video camera and other odds and ends
    Please give our warm regards to all at Motswari for making our trip there truly memorable