Tuesday, 23 October 2012

23rd October: A Beautiful Day.

Pic Of The Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold, Shadrack & Marka.)

Lion ( Jacaranda Pride: 3 x Females & 4 x Sub Adults) / Motswari – Hangar Rd.
Lion ( Mafikizolo Males) / JayDee – Argyle Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Enkhombi Pan Rd.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Ekuvukeni Access.
Leopard ( Argyle Jnr & Cub) / Motswari – Motswari Bush Braai.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Herold, Shadrack & Marka.)

Lion ( Jacaranda Pride: 3 x Females & 4 x Sub Adults) / DeLuca – Western Cutline.
Lion ( Maghlatini Male) / Motswari – Motswari Camp.
Leopard ( Argyle Jnr & Male Cub) / Motswari – Motswari Bush Braai.
Leopard ( Argyle Jnr's Female Cub) / Motswari – Airstrip Rd.
Leopard ( Ntombi Female) / Vielmieter – Jiga-Jiga Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Western Sohobele.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Argyle – Straight Rd.
Rhino ( Male)
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Motswari – Motswari Dam.

Daily Synopsis.

Heading off on drive Jacky and I had not quite decided where we were heading and truth be told I think the both of us were not to sure where to head. After a moments hesitation we decided we would head to the North West and try follow up on a herd of Buffalo that was around the area yesterday. Having taken the wrong road we would have to make a slight detour but before correcting ourselves Jacky raised his hand indicating for me to stop. He asked if I could see the Lion tracks that were heading back in the direction we had just come from. I contacted Shaddy as he was just leaving camp asking him to keep an eye out as the tracks were heading in his direction, he was also trying to get hold of Herold as he had already picked up on the tracks heading straight onto our soccer field. While Shaddy went onto foot to check the direction of the tracks I headed to the North of camp to check if they may have crossed the river to the North and also to check our boundary as we did not want to waste our time tracking only to find they had already crossed out our traversing area. Herold also joined in the search as he found tracks on the airstrip, this is were things got a little complicated as they found tracks heading in nearly every direction as the pride set about chasing Impala and Zebra. Not finding tracks heading to the North we continued to the South while the others tried to ascertain a direction to follow up in. Hearing that Diff and Tiyani had the tracks heading South West I headed in their direction to drop Jacky off to join in the search on foot as we now felt we were not far behind. I continued to drive around the area as did Shaddy and Herold checking the roads to make sure they had not crossed out the block. It was not long before Jacky contacted us to tell us he had found them but he was not sure how many and who they were as there were cubs amongst them. As is usual when Lions come across the trackers they run and we then have to relocate with the vehicle and stick with them till they settle. With all three of us in the immediate area, we have learnt from previous experiences, we were able to close in on the area quickly and under the trackers guidance it did not take us to long to relocate them. A little startled, as I'm sure it is one of the first times that the cubs have seen man on foot, they kept a steady pace and moved off from the vehicles. Giving them space they seemed to relax with the vehicles but there still seemed to be something bothering them as they constantly kept looking over their shoulders as they moved further and further to the East. The cubs were especially nervous and the slightest noise would have them bounding off and thus pulling mom along as well. Catching them in a number of clearings we had ourselves a good view and could identify them as the Jacaranda Pride. Having their territory further to the North now they were a long way from home and therefore maybe also felt a little uneasy.

Leaving them still heading to the East and back towards home we headed off to the West as we heard a breeding herd of Buffalo had been found on our Western Boundary. We had to move quite quickly as they appeared to be getting up and mobile towards the boundary. Pushing a little to get there before they crossed we had to turn a blind eye or two to other general game and birds along the way. While heading there we also received the good news that the two Mafikizolo Male Lions were also in the area not far from the Buffalo, all the more reason to get there sooner than later. Getting to the area we found the Buffalo rustling themselves from their mornings rumination period and starting to feed again to the North West. We did not spend much time with them as we received news that the two male Lions were now also up and heading to the West a little North of the herd.

Not wanting to miss out on these impressive males we chose to leave the Buffalo and head in their direction. Not having far to travel we found them settling down to rest again in amongst a Mopane thicket. Getting ourselves into a great position we sat with them downwind of the Buffalo. As it turned out it did not matter that we had left the Buffalo early as they now could be seen feeding in our direction totally oblivious to the Lions. The Lions interest was now peaked but not to the extent that I thought it would have been. They were in a great position downwind and hidden in a Mopane thicket the perfect situation to launch an attack from. With the Buffalo now within fifty metres the Lions still seemed unexcited and did not go to any lengths in hiding themselves or orchestrating an attack. Twenty meters away a female Buffalo got visual of the two of them and moved forward head up to investigate while sounding the alarm, with the rest of the herd now in attention the two Lions stood and slunk off deeper into the Mopane thicket. From what we witnessed it looked like the Lions were a little wary of the Buffalo, rightfully so, and they may have had a run in prior to our arrival. It could also be that they were saving their energy for after dark when an attack would be more practical, none the less it was nice to see the interaction of the two and we eventually left them with the Lions settling in the Mopane thicket and the Buffalo rerouteing to the West and across our traversing boundary.

Having a long way back to the lodge and with not much time left we forwent morning coffee and rather spent the extra time with a nice herd of Giraffe and a couple Zebra. While viewing them we were also visited by a couple of Hyena that appeared to be following some trail or other. Choosing not to risk the Buffalo on the boundary, Herold and Shaddy stayed up North and found their own herd of Buffalo, they also found Argyle Jnr with her cub on a Impala kill that appeared she reclaimed from Hyena very close to Motswari's Bush Braai. So all in all it was a great morning out, a surprise considering the high winds.

Not wanting to travel far this afternoon and wanting to spend a little time around Argyle Dam we chose to bumble around Motswari and the North. Jacky joined Herold to help Difference track the Jacaranda Pride as they had new guests aboard, so it was a good thing I didn't drift to far for fear of getting lost. First off I tried my hand at relocating Argyle Jnr and her cubs who had been found in the morning with an Impala kill very near Motswari's Bush Braai but arriving at the scene I found neither Argyle Jnr or any sign of her kill. Beginning to question my abilities I was glad to hear that Johannes checked the area soon after me and he to found nothing. Not giving up a decided to check the surrounding area believing they would not be far and true enough it was not long before I spotted the distinctive outline of a Leopard up in a Marula Tree, hmm........... we approached tentatively as we did not know who it was and we had a one in three chance of it being a relaxed individual. Getting closer we soon identified it as a young Leopard but was it the relaxed male or the shier sister? This was soon answered when it climbed down the tree at our approach and made for the thickest vegetation about, question answered. Having a fairly good sighting of her even though it was from afar we were satisfied and we moved on.

It is amazing how when you under no pressure to find anything things seem to just jump out at you and it was not long before we stumbled across a beautiful herd of Elephant slowly feeding along the Sohobele River. With many youngster in the herd we spent some good time with them as they first quenched their thirst before setting off to satisfy their hunger. We are starting to find that every herd now has at least one baby in amongst them that is no older than a couple weeks if not days old, always a sighting that brings on the OOo's and Aaaaah's. Eventually drawing ourselves away from them we set off to fetch Jacky who had once again successfully tracked down the Jacaranda Pride.

We combined this with a visit back to Argyle Jnr's kill site where Jacky had noticed the slightest of drag marks and when they followed up they found Argyle Jnr herself and her more relaxed male cub. They had moved the kill and now placed it into an extremely thick Knobthorn Tree. With she being as shy as her cub she moved off but the cub kept us entertained for some time.

Still wanting to stop in at Argyle Dam and visit the Hippo and get in a little birding we headed off to have early sundowners at the dam. Again the animals obliged us and put on a show during our drinks. Resuming afterwards we had literally driven around the corner when we found a large male Rhino drinking from a isolated pool in the dam. He must have been there the whole time we were at drinks. We sat with him awhile but as it was after sunset we did not put the light on him and we eventually left him to look for more nocturnal creatures. Asking Jacky for a Chameleon it was not long before he delivered not one but two! It was just one of those afternoons when everything fell into place and it sounded like we were not the only one's to benefit as seven different Leopards, four different prides of Lions, Buffalo, Elephant and Rhino were all out and about to be viewed and with the Jacaranda Pride stalking Buffalo On Motswari's Airstrip and a Maghlatini Male stalking Dagha Boys next to Elephant Room, as well as a herd of Elephant in front of the lodge it looks like we could be in for an eventful morning.

Highlight Of My Day.

Difficult to choose as it was great to see the Jacaranda Pride again and see how well their cubs are doing but I think my highlight for the day was the two Mafikizolo Males and their Buffalo interaction. It was interesting to see the Buffalo get the upper hand, or should that be upper hoove, for a change. I wonder if that will be the case after dark.


  1. Murphy's Law ... if you don't look for it, you shall find it ... Awesome post, Grant. Thank you.

  2. Wonderful - wow and wow again

  3. Great post Grant.
    Also agree that the Mafikizolo Males and buffalo interaction was the highlight.
    Great to see the Jacaranda pride cubs doing so well, they are getting pretty big now!!!
    Great day anyway with beautiful leopard shots as well.