Monday, 17 December 2012

16th December – The Big 7...Well, Almost!

Photo of the Day
Andrea's Awesome Cheetah Sighting...........

Young Jacaranda pride male

Morning Drive
(Chad, Andrea, Peter, Marka and Shaddy)
6 x lions (Jacaranda Pride – 3 young males, 3 females) – De Luca, Drongo Drive
2 x lions (Ximpoko and Maande males with male kudu kill) – De Luca, Drongo Drive
2 x leopards (Rockfig Jnr and male cub with impala kill) – Vielmetter, Double Highway
3 x breeding herds of elephants – De Luca,Drongo Drive
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Tchwala Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Andrea, Peter, Grant and Shaddy)
1 x cheetah (Hmmmmm?) – Motswari, Marula Pan
30 x wild dogs – Tanda Tula, Rhino Loop
6 x lions (Jacaranda Pride – 3 young males, 3 females) – De Luca, Jackalberry Pan Rd
2 x lions (Ximpoko and Maande males with male kudu kill) – De Luca, Drongo Drive
2 x leopards (Rockfig Jnr and male cub with impala kill) – Vielmetter, Double Highway
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Bluewaxbill Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Voel Dam Northern Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Pump Crossing
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Peter Pan Access
4 x elephant bulls – Jaydee, Makulu Crossing
2 x rhinos

Daily Synopsis

It has been a rather strange sensation being at the lodge but not having been out on drive for the last 10 days, so I was quite keen to get out there on Sunday morning, and headed off with Marion and Fabrice’s kids, Elea and Victor, to see what we could find. The answer soon became “very little”, but luckily Johannes had taken some strong magic potion last night and was on fire this morning!

I headed off towards Vyeboom Dam to see if Argyle Jnr or her cubs would be around, but we only saw impala and hyena on the airstrip, and later two hyenas at our new hyena den in the north – Johannes has seen at least one baby, but it was still tiny and we shall have to wait a little while until it is confident enough to come out with us there.

Impalas and hyena, as well as hyenas at our new northern den site

Arriving at the Nhlaralumi river, we found tracks for a pride of at least 4 lions crossing north into Ingwelala and I assumed it was the 6, but on hearing that Johannes had lion tracks just east of Motswari (where they had been roaring all night), I wasn't so sure.  Needless to say, after finding a herd of elephants, he found the Ximpoko and Mabande male lions with a large male kudu kill right next to the road!  He was still convinced that they had stolen it and that there were other lions close by, so he carried on looking as I enjoyed the lions, and later also the herd of elephants drinking in the riverbed in the east; this herd was then joined by two other groups of elephants in the lush mopane woodlands of the east.

Mabande male lion with a stolen kudu kill and some nearby elephants

It was while watching them that Johannes radioed me from up the road to tell me to come look at some more lions, so off I went and saw the six Jacarandas, but sadly the youngsters were nervous today and moved off, leaving us just with a good view of two of the males and one lioness.  Still, this was so typical of our lions – either they all disappear for ages, or they all come back into the area at the same time!  They really need to develop a better time-management roster!

Victor and the Jacaranda Pride

As the morning heated up, I headed back to camp, not seeing much else out there, but for a first drive back in the bush, it wasn't a bad start!  Especially as down south rhino, leopards and wild dogs were found, setting us up nicely for the afternoon!

It was a hot day when we arrived back from the morning drive but cooled considerably as the wind picked up in the afternoon and the lightning flashed around to the south – while it materialised to nothing, it was enough to make me change my mind about going south to see the leopards, well that, and almost every other vehicle in the reserve was heading there except Peter and I, so I stayed and chilled in the north enjoying waterbucks chasing one another around, some impalas, dung beetles, tortoises and two prides of lions!

Waterbucks and impalas under a stormy sky

The Mabande male was feeding on the kill while his partner rested nearby, and further up the road the six Jacarandas had relaxed much more than this morning and while still in a thicket, we had a good view of the six of them together before moving for drinks and heading back to lodge as the chill increased!

Mabande male feeding on the kill, and a Jacaranda Pride lioness a couple of kilometres away resting with the other five lions

Grant had Ingwelala guests for just one drive and had a blinder of a drive – he saw a herd of buffalo, a herd of elephants, a crash of rhinos, a leap of leopards, a pack of wild dogs and a pride of lions....not too shabby for an afternoon drive!!!  But, it was not just what he saw, but the quality of the sightings, and in particular the 30 wild dogs running around chasing impalas and then one another in the open after an unsuccessful second hunt for the afternoon (they had killed an impala earlier).  But the lion sighting was tops – arriving to find the two large male lions playing tug-o-war with the kill...only a few minutes later did they notice a lioness a bit to the north eating the scraps of the kill – then the big males noticed her and charged in, only to have all six Jacarandas jump up and bolt from the area as the large males began roaring to assert their claim to this land!  Wow, I must say I was quite envious of missing out on all of that!

Andrea also had a wonderful afternoon and got to see much of what Grant did, as well as a cheetah – this was an amazing feat seeing as she and her mom (who was out visiting her – and no Cecily, I won’t mention your birthday ;)!!!) had a bet with Victor as to who would find cheetah first imagine our surprise when she radioed to say she had a cheetah right near off we raced to find this specimen sitting in the road....not sure if it counts as a sighting, but it was awfully cute...although it does look more like a baby serval to me don’t you think Andrea ;)


  1. There's your book cover!

    Happy Christmas & a Blessed new Year to ALL that make Motswari & this blog so delightful :)

    Love Barbara (Melbourne, Australia)

  2. One of your most outstanding pic-of-the day photos!!Might consider it for your book cover:) It is always a thrill to read the blog and enjoy your outstanding photos Chad but needless to add, I also get very excited when Andrea taps in on the blog. A big thank you for adding to the enjoyment of our visit.