Sunday, 21 October 2012

20th October: Do My Eyes Deceive Me.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Shadrack.)

Lion ( Sohobele Male) / Argyle – Rudi's Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Motswari Southern Access.
Leopard ( Machaton Male) / Peru – Phiva Plains.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Shadrack.)

Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd North.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Peru – Western Cutline.
Lion ( Sohobele Male) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd North.
Lion ( Female) / Peru – Phiva Plains.
Leopard ( Machaton Male) / Peru – Phiva Plains.
Leopard ( Makipi's Male) / Peru – Phiva Plains.
Leopard ( Umfana Male) / Kings – Hyena Rd.
Rhino ( Male)
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Motswari – Wedge river Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

Waking at three I could see flashes of light on the Northern horizon but could not hear the thunder that should accompany it, clearly it was still a long way off and hopefully missing us. Waking to the sound of thunder at four it was not long before the rain began to lash down accompanied by high winds and a light show that could rival the forth of July. This was not good! How were we going to find Lions under these conditions. Dragging myself out of bed a little despondent, truth be told, we were handed a life line though as in true African thunderstorm style it started to ease up after an hour and shortly before the guests were due for morning coffee it stopped, perfect. Things were going to be tough as all signs had definitely been washed away and we would only have the tracks subsequent to the rain, should anything have moved in that little time. With things lifting quickly it did look promising that things would get moving early, least we new the tracks would be fresh. At coffee John informed us that he had Lions contact calling shortly before the storm South of camp. Being a contact call it would not be loud and therefore they should be close, so the three of us set off checking the roads in and around Motswari.

It did not take Shaddy long to find a small herd of Buffalo sitting on our Southern access, unfortunately they did not look that perturbed and were resting alongside the road. Not finding anything in the immediate vicinity we expanded our search and Jacky and I headed out towards Phiva Plains hoping that Machaton Males Impala kill had attracted the attention of our Lion. Making our way around Argyle Dam we received a radio message from Difference, a ranger at our neighbouring lodge, that he had picked up on a male Lion highly mobile to the East. Not being far we responded and joined the sighting as he turned to the North, things were a little tough going though as due to the amount of rain there was no off road driving so we had to loop around every time he headed off the road hoping to catch him on the next road. Luckily cats don't like to get wet so he did tend to stick to the roads as opposed to walking through the wet grass. As you can imagine there was a lot of interest in the sighting so we got our good views and then made space for the next station while he still was on the road. While we were with him though he did stop on one occasion and looked intently towards the East we could hear off in the distance the distinct contact call of his brothers around Motswari. They must have still been in the block and he was making his way there. I later heard that he crossed Argyle Dam wall and eventually came to rest very close to Xinatsi Dam on Motswari.

With Lion under our belt we could once again focus on everything else. With the conditions being as they were we decided that we would head West and try our luck with Rhino but checking our entire Western boundary we found no signs of them or anything else. The few Impala we did find were all sitting as if they knew that there was more to come. Lucky for us it held off till the end of drive but it does look rather threatening, we wait and see.

Getting off to a far drier start than the morning we all headed straight for the Sohobele Male who had come to rest within a kilometre of camp. To our surprise we still found him there fast asleep and paid very little attention to us during our visit and only lifted his head partially to acknowledge our arrival. With the raining starting again we thought this would have him up but he seemed resigned to the fact of getting wet and remained in his comatose position.

Needing to still found Buffalo, Rhino and Elephant we headed on our way South as we thought this would be the best place to find Rhino and hopefully find the others along the way. It was not long before we found the Buffalo as a small group of Dagha Boys were up and feeding after their afternoons rumination. With no off road driving and a couple of properties closed we were back to old fashioned viewing from the roads so as things drifted further away so did we.

Continuing South we saw little else as the rain started to get that little bit heavier but arriving on our Southern Boundary it suddenly stopped and things started to make themselves seen. Not having much luck with our Rhino and with Herold struggling to locate the Elephant Herd he had found signs for, we took the opportunity to visit Umfana Male who we were invited for. He had been found in the morning with two kills, one Duiker and the other n Impala. Hearing that he was in a Marula we thought that this would be a good time to visit but on arriving we found that he, like the Lion, was fast asleep, only difference was that he must have been far more comfortable as he did not even acknowledge our arrival. 

Sitting with him we received news that a very skittish Rhino had been found and although there was no sighting as he had run off, Jacky and I decided we would head to the area and first track him on foot and then try approach him on foot. Getting to the area it did not take us long to find his tracks and following them was relatively easy, unfortunately he was moving at pace. Getting further and further away from the car I decided to head back and bring it closer as if we did find him we did not want to be to far away. Getting back to the vehicle and bringing it around Jacky was still on the tracks and under his guidance I drove to an area that we thought he would pop out at. Sure enough Jacky was right on the money and a little bit up the road that we were travelling we found him standing next to it watching us very closely. Killing the engine and trying not to make any noise we coasted up to him, this allowed us a couple minutes of a sighting before he became nervous and headed off deeper into the bush. We got one more sighting of him a little later as he again wandered back towards the road wanting to cross to the East. Having lost our light we turned back North on our way home. Hearing that Machaton Male had been joined by Makipi's Male at his Impala kill on Phiva Plains nearly tempted us to detour on our way home but when we heard that a Lioness had appeared on the scene and was sitting at the base of the Marula Tree staring up longingly at the kill,we could not resist a short detour, after all it was kind of on the way home. Arriving on scene we found both Leopards up trees and the Lioness wandering around the base of one of them not knowing what to do. At one stage she drifted off from the Marula with Machaton Male and his Impala kill, at this point Makipi's thought it was a great opportunity to try creep across the plain and join Machaton in his tree but when the Lioness saw him making his move she chased him back to his Marula and once again set about pacing below the tree. Despite the weather it was an amazing day filled a whole lot of adventure and there was no better way to end it on Phiva Plains.

My Highlight Of The Day.

Although seeing the Sohobele Male is always a highlight for me, today it had to go to the two Leopards, two Hyena, one Lioness and a dead Impala on the open plain with the Sohobele Male calling for his brothers to the east of us. Don't think you get better than that.


  1. Leopard and lion in one sighting - awesome ...

  2. What a beautiful lion, he reminds me very much of Blondie and Dozy of the Nkuhumas, I think Dozy as called Mandleva up your way ? (Not too sure of the spelling). Rosie.

  3. Rosie , Dozie and Blondie were too far from Motswari , their area was in central Manyeleti and north of Sabi Sand .
    The lion is definitely the son of old Sohobele male , and we do have a lot of material about him , a lot of pics . Mele