Thursday, 1 November 2012

31st October – Cats...and a load of Dogs too!

Photo of the Day

Young Machaton male lion

Morning Drive
(Chad, Marka, Herold and Johannes)
3 x lions (Machaton lioness and two young males with wildebeest kill) – Tanda Tula, Giraffe Plains
1 x elephant bull – Buchner, Koppies

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Andrea, Herold and Johannes)
24 x wild dogs – Peru, Woza-Woza Cutline
2 x rhinos
3 x lions (Machaton lioness and two young males with wildebeest kill) – Tanda Tula, Giraffe Plains
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Lily Pan

Daily Synopsis
Wow, a blog that is posted on time...that is bound to bring more rain (and possibly snow) to the Timbavati!
So yesterday, a day that included a fair amount of sunshine and included animals that eat other animals, didn’t start out as well as it is the story of my morning drive............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

In the afternoon, things were nicely set up for us, and despite the windy conditions, it turned out to be a good afternoon.  Okay, okay, the morning wasn't that bad, but you know when the highlights of your drive all involved humans that is was a pretty quiet one!

I needed cats, and I searched Motswari Wedge and towards De Luca for Shongile, but the only spots we found were for a couple of giraffes, but nothing else.

Arriving at the Buchner Access Rd, I mentioned to Petros that I was half-tempted to just carry on to the remote corner of our traversing, and he said “yeah, let’s try” we did.  The End.

I knew it was bound to be a mistake when tracks for a pack of wild dogs were called in our central region, but I persisted and enjoyed a wonderfully scenic drive around this property, but baring a few skittish impalas, a couple of skittish zebras, and yes, skittish steenbucks, we didn’t have much joy.  Arriving at the Koppies for a coffee break, we found ourselves in the company of a large elephant bull feeding just below us, but his presence was overshadowed by the antics of my guests; Paul gave me a heart attack when he looked like he was about to fall backwards over the rocks, Chris kept dropping his glasses, then dropped them again straight down a small crevice (and I ended up with a shoe that now smells like coffee) which left us all in fits of laughter...luckily Mission Impossible saw Petros retrieving the shades with no harm done.
Heading home, Paul’s ninja-like reflexes amazed us all when he caught Petros’s cap one handedas it got blown off in the wind!  Then Jorinne caused more laughter when she got attacked by a dung beetle, with the only “sympathetic” words coming from Jason, “he just wanted to roll you....”

Arriving home having added almost nothing to the list, we still all ended the day reflecting on what a fun drive it had been!

This however left us with a lot of work to do in the afternoon; luckily the wild dogs had been found in the morning and settled after feeding on a kill, and as always happens, I was further from the only lion sighting this morning than I could possibly have been (more than 40km away!), but as they also had a kill, I knew that they would still be around this avie.

Moving towards the dogs at the start of the drive, we checked Argyle Dam, and as usual, impalas, hippos and the large croc were in the area, but besides more impalas, there was not a great deal else around.  

The wild dogs were found resting in the same spot, and I joined appeared to be out “regular” northern pack, but where they left prior to denning season with 10 dogs, they returned with about two dozen!!!  Yip, around 24 dogs in the pack now, but they were all resting in a thicket which made counting them impossible, but let us hope that this is their return for summer, and that we shall enjoy seeing them often over the coming months!

A massive pack of about 24 wild dogs!

We left the dogs resting (not my ideal way to see them, but as cats were desperately needed, I had no choice) and moved further south.  Arriving at Vielmetter, we suddenly realised why we saw nothing this morning, as all the animals were clearly here!  Moving from clearing to clearing as we made our way towards the lions, we saw plenty of general game in the form of giraffes, zebras, wildebeest and hundreds and hundreds of impalas...oh yes, and two rhinos as well!

Abundant general game; impalas, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest and even some rhinos

The lions, a Machaton female and her two young sons, had killed a wildebeest last night and we arrived to find them resting in the open with enormous belies – a stark contrast from when I saw them just before my last leave!  

Fat Machatons after a wildebeest feast

All my pessimism about them not making could well be down the drain if they continue to look this good and hunt so well!  

The mother was a laugh too, as despite being the size of a house and dead to the world, she would wake up at any approach from two hooded vultures, and while she seemed to want to run in and chase them off, her fat belly would not let her move very far, and she would just flop back down...until the flies started bugging her!

Young Machaton males looking great for a change!

Leaving them, we continued back north to Hide Dam for a drink, and saw another several groups of zebras and giraffes and plenty of impalas....abundant is a word that I don’t often use here, but general game could be described in no other way in that area this afternoon!

Sun, a sunset, and giraffes at, you guessed it, sunset!

Heading back to camp, we had only 35 minutes to find some spots, but all we found was a clear starry sky...but hey, I could think of worse ways to end off a day!

Enjoying the evening in the boma with a great group of guests, we all had a wonderful laugh about the day’s adventures and I realised how lucky I am to be able to share in these days with my guests...even if I couldn’t find them a leopard; needless to say, I am almost certain a leopard will pop up tomorrow morning while some of us are sleeping in!

My Highlight of the Day
Now, you would think seeing 24 wild dogs would be my highlight (but I’m saving that for tomorrow when I plan to find them active and hunting!!!), but to be honest, my most memorable thing today was the drive to the southern sections of the reserve.  The rain has been better there, and the open areas are like golf courses; vibrant greens colour the landscape, and there was more general game in that area than I have seen in ages!  Eagle Owl Plains had a massive herd of impalas spread across it, and Cheetah Plains had zebra, wildebeest and impalas all feeding together in a perfectly African was just wonderful to drive around seeing this, and for that, it became my highlight of the day!

Loved seeing impala, zebras and wildebeest in all the clearings in the south!


  1. Although it could not have been fun getting wet a few weeks back, the results are absolutely amazing. Great stuff,Chad!

  2. So enjoy your comments and great photos. Thanks for doing this each day.

  3. The whole page with photos and script is great ! Thanks for sharing. We can sit back and enjoy your work, but feeling so jealous inside.

  4. Chad as usual the blog brings the reserve alive

  5. LOL... Great blog post Chad...
    Must admit it is great to see the lions looking so good!!!
    Hope for some spots for your guests as it seems you guys are having a great time even without spots ;-)


  6. Hey Chaddles, so glad to be of service to give you human fodder for your blog...well not me personally of was a very funny morning. I was actually checking your blog whilst writing my travel blog to check a few things but now I feel a little inadequate after reading yours LOL. Thanks again for helping make our trip amazing!

    PS: No leopards on the drive out :)

    Cheers Rebecca

  7. Becky!!! Hahaha, thanks for catching up, and sorry the leopards avoided you all this trip :( as lucky would have it, they came out in force since then!

    but thank you once again for a wonderful time...regards to Paul as well!

    Take care :)

    and thanks everyoe else for the lovely comments, glad you all enjoy the blogs so much!