Wednesday, 7 November 2012

5th and 6th November – SABLE Spotted; Marka and his Magic!!!

Photo of the Day

Treasures at the end of the rainbow

5th November Morning Drive
(Chad, Andrea, Johannes and Herold)
2 x lions (Machaton lioness and young male) – Umlani, Elloff Rd
1 x leopard (Mbali female with impala kill) – Argyle, Argyle Dam
2 x rhinos
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Long Pipe Pan
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Western Sharalumi
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Horizon Rd
3 x elephant bulls – Vielmetter, Sweetwater Pan
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Airstrip Rd

5th November Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Andrea and Johannes)
2 x lions (Machaton lioness and young male) – Umlani, Elloff Rd
1 x leopard (Mbali female with impala kill) – Argyle, Argyle Dam
4 x rhinos
3 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Piva Plains
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp
7 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Sharalumi Access
1 x buffalo bull – Peru, Argyle Rd

6th November Morning Drive
(Chad, Andrea and Johannes)
3 x lions (Ximpoko males and unknown lioness) – Java, Whitey’s Rest
1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Argyle, Long Rd
1 x leopard (Argyle Jnr female) – Peru, Long Rd
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Sohebele Plains

6th November Afternoon Drive
(Andrea and Peter)
3 x lions (Ximpoko males and unknown lioness) – Java, Whitey’s Rest
1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Argyle, Long Rd
1 x leopard (Makepisi male) – Java, Java Old Airstrip
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Garage Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Illegal Crossing
1 x elephant bull – Schlotz, River Rd
1 x elephant bull – Scholtz, Scholtz Camp

Daily Synopsis
After yesterday’s excitement, I was planning on a much more chilled morning, but still decided to go and see if we could get lucky with hyenas eating on Mbali’s kill; quite surprisingly though, she was still there and had managed to keep the kill safe during the night...maybe the hyenas saw her performance and thought that it was best to avoid her for a while?

As we had seen her yesterday, we moved straight on and went in search of some other animals; after a large croc resting on a rock at Lover’s Leap, we sat enthralled by leaping impalas as they stotted all over Piva Plains with waterbucks for company.

Wildbeest, Mbali resting, hippos, crocodile and leaping impalas

Marka had found some elephants on Java, so went to see them, but after searching around, we found nothing but a two elephant bulls, one of which was in musthe and started coming for the vehicle at speed, so we made a hasty retreat, not wanting to tempt fate twice!

Elephant bull in musthe

Eventually we managed to relocate the herd after they walked exactly where we had checked 10 minutes earlier, but out timing was perfect and we got to watch the herd, babies included splashing about in a mudwallow only a few metres from the Land Rover, making for a stunning sighting!

Elephant herd having a mudwallow next to the vehicle!

Some rhinos had been found a bit to the south west, so we made tracks in their direction and managed to relocate two rhinos resting in the shade of a large tree – they eventually lay down and we decided to go seek some shade ourselves for a cup of coffee.

“Sadly” though, a herd of elephants had already picked our spot on the Nhlaralumi, so we spent time watching them digging for water and playing in the riverbed before finding a new location for a cuppa as the temperatures soared as the morning moved on.

Rhinos and another elephant herd

With the mercury touching 38 by the time we went out in the afternoon, I thought I would chance the east and check some of the mudwallows there before making a long trip for some lions that the other guides had been invited to go and see in the morning.  It started off well enough with a large elephant bull feeding on kudu pan clearing, as well as zebras in the area, but then hitting the eastern section, things turned very quiet and we saw only 5 impalas!

Elephant, zebra and little else in the east

Even going further south didn’t really bring the game out, and the areas that had been so productive a few days ago only produced scattered herds of impalas, but we did get lucky with a wonderful rhino sighting on one of the plains!  It was the mother and calf, now joined by a new young male, and then the big boy himself, Mtenga-tenga!  They were on the plains, but Mtenga-tenga was not in a good mood and soon came charging at us, so some more door banging was involved!  Not sure if I need to change my deodorant or something, but the animals aren’t liking me much at the moment?

Crash of rhinos

They all eventually ended up in a mudwallow, and with a stormy sky and two rainbows overhead, it made for a magical scene, and one that was a delight to sit and watch!

Lovely rainbows making for a magical setting

Moving on towards the lions, game didn’t really pick up, but with such a magic sunset, we were probably driving past most the animals as out attention was focused on the sun!

Sunset over the Drakensberg

The lions were quite inactive when we arrived, but at least the one was awake – it was two of the other Machaton lions, the sister and her one son, and they sadly were not looking as good as the other three, but those three were picked up moving in the general direction of the two, albeit about 3km away, but hopefully they can meet up soon and start hunting well together as a pride.

Machaton lioness and young male

Stopping for a slightly late drink, we enjoyed some bubbly to celebrate a guests birthday before making the long trek back to the north – the game was a bit scarce, but we did see a buffalo, herds of impala and a enjoyed a nice cooling breeze, to round off another great day in the bush!

My last morning drive for a couple of days was only a short one, so I didn’t expect much...i was wrong!  we started off with a saddle-billed stork, zebras, impalas and wildebeest on our airstrip before going to check up on Mbali.

Zebra, saddle-billed stork, wildebeest, baboons and a fish eagle between the lodge and Argyle Dam

Approaching the area, I saw her resting on a termite mound, but by the time we got around, she was gone!  Then after a bit of searching, one of the guests spotted her almost directly above our heads sleeping on a branch of a knobthorn!  I find it hard to believe that  in a minute she got from the mound, up a tree and fast asleep?  So either I didn’t really see her (I have been known to be tricked before, even with the aid of binoculars!!!), or it was another skittish leopard that moved off?

Mbali resting up in a knobthorn

We spent a bit of time with her before making our way towards where Marka was pulling out all the stops for his Java guests – besides finding the two Ximpoko male lions and one lioness this morning as well as Argyle Jnr female leopard a bit later in the morning, he unbelievably called in something yesterday that almost ruined my afternoon.  Both he and I were checking the east, and while neither of us saw much at all, the magic of the east is the unexpected, and they don’t come more unexpected than finding a massive SABLE ANTELOPE standing on the road!!!  Sadly he was on the Kruger Cutline and soon moved off, but based on the tracks, Marka said there were more!!!  Wow, it is the first Sable seen in our area for about 10 years, and the first one I have heard of at all in the Timbavati in my time here!  How lucky can you get!

Well, making use of his good form, we responded to the lions seeing waterbuck, impala and zebras on the way, and arrived to find the lions in a very thick area – no idea who the lioness is, but whenever she moved, the bigger male shadowed her very closely, growling as he went – the collared one followed a bit behind, but on going to rest in a thicket, we left them and made our way back to camp, seeing a few more zebras as we went.

Waterbuck, zebras and the Ximpoko males following an unknown lioness!

I came off drive, so was looking forward to a restful afternoon, but when Pete managed to get an invite from a friend of his to go and see The Giraffe Farm Pride of lions in the far south, the temperature only put me off the idea momentarily...but realising that we could go and see white lions, I came to my senses and off we went in the midday heat!

The pride had been eating a giraffe, and as it was 37 degrees and the middle of the day, we found them resting in the shade, but man, what an impressive pride!  Fourteen lions without a big male, but the five young males were an impressive sight, but as we weren’t there for them, we went to see the lionesses, including a 3-year old white lioness and a 10-month old white male lion – strikingly, he had the normal tawny eyes of lions, and not the grey-blue eyes that we became accustomed to with the Xakubasa lions, proof that they are not albinos!

White lions from the Giraffe Farm Pride way down south - not a bad way to spend an afternoon off!

We enjoyed our time with them, but had to head back to the camp for the afternoon drive; I did join and Dave, Thea and I went to scout the east, hoping to get lucky with the sable was not too bad out there, and we saw two elephant bulls, a lot of steenbuck, a couple herds of kudu, impalas, duiker, slender mongoose and some giraffes after a drink at Majavi dam before I headed straight back to camp to catch up on missing out on my precious afternoon nap!

Andrea and Pete went out with their guests, and both managed to find their own leopards as well as to see the mating lions again, so not a bad start to their guests stay!

I am back on drive tomorrow afternoon, so will catch up again then J


  1. Gee, I do hope the sable antelopes have not crossed out of the area for good, and that you are able to get some good photos of them. Pleased to hear that you seem none the worse for yesterday's hair-raising adventure.
    Appreciated the pics of Mrs Saddle-billed stork.

  2. I know some like the black and white photos, but I love the colour ones. Africa has such beautiful vibrant colours all around and it is such a delight to see when we are embroiled in grey,cold rainy days here in the UK ! Wonderful pictures, as ever Chad, thank you so much for sharing ! Just wanted to ask something about the young white lion, is his skin pigment black, or does he have a skin complaint ? Rosie.

  3. Chad good to see that you are none the worse after your hair raising experience. Keep blogging and showing us the beautiful pictures that take us back to our brief stay at Motswari