Tuesday, 9 October 2012

8th October – It Pays to Watch Impalas...

Photo of the Day

Jacaranda lioness stalking some impalas on Piva Plains

Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant, Andrea, Peter and Shaddy)
2 x lions (Jacaranda lionesses) – Argyle, Piva Plains
2 x rhinos
2 x rhinos
1 x elephant cow – Peru, Boolala Rd
7 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Mfene Crossing

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Peter and Shaddy)
2 x lions (Ximpoko males hunting buffalo) – Argyle, Buffalo Pan
3 x rhinos
2 x rhinos
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Argyle, Buffalo Pan
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam Rd
9 x buffalo bulls – Karans, Majavi Dam
7 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Crossing Below Argyle
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Horizon Rd

Daily Synopsis
Following a good start to yesterday’s new group of guests, I had a mission to find lions this morning, and went to the area where all the tracks had been yesterday, hoping to get a set moving in a single direction that I could follow; we started off well with a nice herd of wildebeest on the airstrip, as well as a few groups of impalas.  


Moving to the Sohebele River, Petros soon spotted tracks for one lioness, so we turned around to follow up, as they headed to Argyle Dam.  Tracks headed towards Piva Plains, and when we arrived, there was a nice herd of impalas feeding in the clearing, so we stopped to watch them.

I often do this, as watching impalas can be very rewarding; Petros has adopted this approach to his guiding too, and has joked at how some guests have asked him not to stop at impalas anymore!  Today was a perfect example as to why one should always stop and watch them!  While sitting watching them, out popped a lioness onto the clearing just in front of us, stalking the herd intently!  We immediately recognised her as one of the young Jacaranda lionesses, and enjoyed watching her as she stalked across the clearing in front of us, eventually chasing the herd in the direction of her sister, but sadly the ambush failed.

Jacaranda lioness stalking impala

The two sisters reunited and moved off before we left them to it and carried on in search of some rhinos.

Jacaranda sister reunited

Our journey south was a tad quiet, with only impala and waterbuck on show, but luckily it was worth the trip.

We managed to relocate on two rhinos that Giyani had found earlier in the morning, and spent some lovely time watching them as they tried to get comfortable in the windy conditions (and yes, I haven’t complained about the heat today as it is a wonderfully cool, cloudy day, albeit rather windy!).

Rhino pair resting on a windy day

Moving towards a coffee stop, we came across a nice herd of giraffes with a new calf, as well as our second herd of wildebeests for the drive!

Giraffe, wildebeest and impala

After coffee, we headed back north, only ticking off more impalas and giraffe as we went, but a successful morning none-the-less.

Having seen the Big 5 in the last two drives, I decided to take a chilled afternoon in the east; Karans was a bit quiet, but we stopped and chatted about termite mounds, kudus, impalas and lone hippo; eventually a group of nine buffalo bulls also came down to the dam to drink.

Hippo and buffalo at Majavi Dam

Moving back to Argyle Dam, we enjoyed some hippos, the large crocodile, and a flock of birds that none of the guides could ID!  We all immediately picked up that they were not from our area, but they were not in our bird books!  It was a flock of terns that Grant thinks could be Whisked Terns, but we will review his photos and try ID them, but still the highlight of the drive for me up until our great drinks stop at Lover’s Leap.

I then went in search of leopard along the Nhlaralumi (so it was mildly annoying that Marka found one, Mbali, at the same crossing I had used earlier with the only intention being to find a leopard), but luckily I didn’t actually care that I failed in that mission.

Grant had spent the whole drive on Argyle looking for lions, and I had now moved in to join him; we worked roads together, and he soon called to say that he had found a male lion that popped out into the road in front of him!

I was not far so quickly went to join him, and just in time; it was one of the Ximpoko males and he had joined up with his partner, and they were following 100m behind a herd of buffalos that had moved to Buffalo Pan.

Ximpoko male lions just before trying to catch a buffalo

The lions set themselves up and eventually ran in to cause chaos, and indeed they did!  They managed to separate three males, that one of the lions decided to chase...unfortunately for us, he chased them in our direction, and for the most part it looked like the buffalos would run straight south past us, but then one turned east, and straight for us!  I immediately started banging my door as Petros braced himself for impact, but at the last split second the buffalo slammed on brakes, less than 1m from Petros on the tracker seat and ran off!  Nervous laughter erupted as the battle between the lions and buffalos went on; with both parties taking a short break!

With adrenaline pumping through our veins, we opted to leave and give the others a chance, absolutely enthralled with what we had just witnessed!  It is not often that one can start and end the day with hunting lions, but such is the beauty of the bush, that you never know what to expect!

While tomorrow morning is no doubt going to be an anti-climax, I have been known to be wrong in the past, so I guess we just have to see what it brings with it!


  1. What a day Chad!!! Must say that I have found a few leopards as well while sitting with impalas for a while. That buffalo being chased by the lions must have been an amazing experience and great sighting.


  2. ... lions, the highlight of the day ...
    Some of my Facebook contacts must be curious by now and also started following this blog. Hope so. Thanks for sharing - it's amazing!