Monday, 12 November 2012

10th and 11th November – A Real Pride of Lions Returns!

Photo of the Day
Jacaranda Pride Returns!

10th November Morning Drive
(Chad, Marka and Shadrack)
1 x lion (Ximpoko Male) – Kings, Cheetah Plains
3 x rhinos
4 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Northern Access
1 x elephant bull – Karans, Western Cutline

10th November Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Marka, Andrea and Peter)
6 x lions (Jacaranda Pride – 3 males, 3 females) – Peru, Peru Entrance
2 x lions (Mabande male and unknown female) – Kings, Leisha’s Link
1 x lion (Ximpoko male) – Kings, Cheetah Plains
1 x leopard (Mbali female with baby warthog kill) – Peru, Wilkin’s Way
1 x leopard (Nthombi’s boy) – Kings, Pat’s Drive
1 x rhino
7 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Camp
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Northern Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Camp
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Argyle Airstrip

11th November Morning Drive
(Chad, Marka, Shaddy, Andrea and Peter)
6 x lions (Jacaranda Pride – 3 lionesses and 3 males) – Peru, Malongo Rd
1 x leopard (Mbali female with baby warthog kill) – Peru, Wilkin’s Way
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Western Cutline
2 x elephant bulls – Karans, Western Cutline
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Bush Braai Rd

11th November Afternoon Drive
(Shaddy, Marka, Andrea and Peter)
6 x lions (Jacaranda Pride – 3 males, 3 females) – Karans, Top Rd West
1 x lion (Unknown male) – Peru, Lion Pan
1 x leopard (Machaton male) – Peru, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – De Luca, Western Cutline
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Lover’s Leap
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Karans, Northern Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Broken Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, SteepSharalumi

Daily Synopsis

My age worries me, I put off writing this for a couple of days and now I can’t actually remember what I did and saw, so some of this blog post might be horribly fictitious!!! 

Based on my photos, I must have begun my drive going past Argyle Dam, so I guess I would have seen some hippos too, but not before I went and checked our northern boundary to see if the 6 lions that Peter had seen last night north of camp had cut across to our land; the leopard’s impala carcass was still hanging in the tree, but there was no meat left.  We also saw a few buffalo near the camp, but they ran off into the thickets at speed!

Around Argyle Dam we saw the baboons, hippos, waterbucks and impalas before making our way south following an invitation from Kings to go and see a male lion; as there didn’t appear to be too many stations heading in that direction, and with Shaddy not finding any tracks crossing from Ingwelala to our property, I thought it best to make sure I go see the lion this morning.  Moving south we saw waterbuck, impala, mongooses and some nice raptors, but not much else.  I checked around Vielmetter for any sign of leopard, but came up empty handed before stopping for coffee at Entrance Dam.

After coffee, I headed south on hearing that three rhinos had been found, and passing many impalas, we arrived to an interesting sighting of a large male rhino with the mother and calf; as it was hot, the calf lay down as the mother wandered off to feed, the male then came and rested his head on the calf, before she eventually got up and went to mom, but the male followed her, continuously trying to rest his head on her – the calf was unperturbed, but the mom eventually told the male where to go, and the calf settled down to drink some milk, making the cutest of sounds as she did so!

Leaving the rhinos, we went to the nearby lion, and while he was in the open, he wasn't lying at the best angle, but he sat up on a few occasions as I repositioned the vehicle, but for late in the morning, I wasn't expecting much activity, and he lazed away the rest of the morning. 

We headed back north seeing impalas and zebras as we went, as well as a few smaller things like monitor lizards and snake eagles to round off a good morning.

The afternoon saw a few more vehicles out, and what a great afternoon in the north it turned out to be, with the big 5 all on offer; although, Marka also went south and ticked off the big 5 himself finding his own buffalo, rhinos and elephants in the north as he made his way to the Ximpoko lions and Nthombi’s boy.

Needing leopard, I stuck to the north, and checked around the northern boundaries for Argyle Jnr, but while we didn’t find leopard, we saw many waterbuck, impala, duiker, steenbuck, baboons, giraffes and a very relaxed elephant bull in musthe!

Hearing that some other guides had seen Mbali in the area in the middle of the day, I went to check around Mbali Dam, and luckily was only a few hundred metres away when their trackers located on her, so I went to establish the sighting of the old girl; sadly though, she was lying in a very dense section of mopane, and didn’t provide the best photographic opportunities, but it was still a nice sighting of her; Andrea got lucky later when Mbali moved into the open and took her tiny baby warthog kill into a marula tree giving her guests a fabulous sighting!

I went to go and see Marka’s rhino after he had been relocated in the open, and while it was dark, it was still a nice sighting as he walked around feeding and scent marking in the open.

Argyle Dam was our drink spot of choice, with my plan being to go and check the northern boundary again for the lions, but on getting mobile after drinks, I heard that they had already been found back in the west, where I had driven earlier!  As it wasn't all that far away, I headed over there, and what a treat it was to sit and watch 6 adult lions in such wonderful condition walking in the open in the darkness of the night – some hyenas nearby got their attention, and they all moved in that also happened to be the direction that a herd of buffalo was in, so when we left them, I fully expected to find them the next morning with a fresh buffalo kill...

Back at the lodge, we had an amazing sighting of elephants feeding next to the pool area, and my guests and I got to stand less than 7-8m away from the herd as they fed on the grass below us – some buffalos also visited the camp in the evening.

As it turned out, the question of whether the lions made a kill was answered within 5 minutes of the drive when Peter found the pride on Western Cutline near the lodge!  I didn’t respond immediately, as I was looking for a cheetah that had been just north of our boundary yesterday afternoon; driving about we saw impalas, some wildebeest, black-backed jackal and almost got lucky with a lioness and a cub that were reportedly making their way to Ingwelala airstrip, but we didn’t see them.

Fortunately, the other lions made up for it, and we got to spend about 45 minutes following them through the bush as they interacted, mated, groomed and just did what lions do – be impressive!  I really love this pride, and I hope they stick around for a while!

Mbali leopardess had been with her warthog kill, so I went to see her, but after passing impalas and waterbucks, we found baboons in the area (I haven’t seen so many baboons for ages – we saw three troops yesterday afternoon too!), and knew that they would have chased her off; so sadly she was not to be found...we went for coffee and tried again, but had no luck, so when she was located at the same spot as I closed down at the end of drive, I was mildly annoyed!

The rest of the drive was a bit quiet as we checked out east, but ended nicely with a herd of wildebeest and zebras near the airstrip, and a wildebeest calf that had just been born this morning! 

The rains that soaked as at the start of the drive were a distant memory as clear blue skies bathed the bush for the rest of the day; I wasn't on drive but the others enjoyed some good sightings, and even visiting a neighbouring lodge for a barbeque with Dave and Thea produced sightings of a herd of elephants on the way there and Machaton male leopard walking along the road on the way home...and one of the most magnificent starscapes we have seen for  while!

I am back on drive tomorrow afternoon, so will update the blog again then, enjoy J


  1. Nice sightings Chad. I also hope the lions stay for a while, it is good to have them back!!!

    Great photos buddy. How far is the book?


  2. Chad, your pictures can never suffer from "old age syndrome" therefore it does not matter what you "feed" us, as long as you keep it coming. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Chad are these 3 males with Jacaranda lionesses the Mahlatini males because they look only around 4 years old? thanks