Wednesday, 26 December 2012

23rd December – Persistence Pays!

Photo of the Day
Ximpoko male lion

Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant, Shaddy, Marka, Johannes and Andrea)
2 x lions (Ximpoko and Mabande males) – Vielmetter, Back 9’s West
1 x leopard (Shongile female) – De Luca, Drongo Drive
5 x rhinos
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Entrance Dam
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Wedge Boundary Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Marka and Johannes)
2 x lions (Ximpoko and Mabande males) – Vielmetter, Back 9’s West
2 x leopards (Argyle Jnr’s cubs) – Argyle, Buffalo Pan
1 x leopard (Xindzuti male) – Argyle, Klipdrift Crossing
5 x rhinos
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Vyeboom Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Buffalo Pan
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Piva Bamba Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Jack’s Camp
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Sharalumi Access
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Bluewaxbill Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Vielmetter, Western Sharalumi

Daily Synopsis

My guests had asked to see some more lions following a lionless day yesterday, so I thought I would check the east to see if the Jacaranda or Sohebele lions might have returned, but I was only entering into the area when we were informed that lions had been calling near Back Nine’s on Vielmetter, so I changed my plans and headed further south, checking only some of the east along the way, but it didn’t produce much besides impalas and steenbuck.

Emerging from the east, we came across a group of giraffes and zebras together – interestingly it was where the Timbavati Pride had their zebra kill stolen by hyenas last week and one zebra was walking around sniffing the site of the kill – I wonder how much of what had unfolded there the zebra could gather or even remembered?

Moving to the area where the lions had been heard roaring, we drove about and found no track at all on any of the roads we checked, and as I was about to give up, we came across a few tracks before they too left the road to the east.  Knowing that we hadn’t seen any tracks emerging from the area, Petros and I were confident that the lions were close, and so he jumped off on foot and began tracking.  Much to the guests concern, I carried on with the drive, and stopped a few hundred metres away to watch a duiker; it was then that Petros called me, and I knew he had already found the lions, so we turned around and two minutes later we pulled up to find Ximpoko and Mabande resting (just for a change!).  Both were awake, and pleasingly, while Mabande had seen Petros, he didn’t run away, a clear sign that they are getting more used to us and the area.  We spent time with them, but knowing that we had some new guests coming in the afternoon, I explained that we would return later and we left the lions to sleep in peace.

At the spot we saw our duiker, it had now been replaced by a couple of hundred buffalo drinking at Entrance Dam, so we enjoyed them before leaving them heading to the north, and sadly not in the direction of the lions, so we parted company and went for coffee at a crossing on the Machaton River where there was a small pool of water.  Ray, one of my guests, pointed out ripples in the water and joked about a crocodile, but as it was so tiny, I knew that there was nothing in the water, so we set up coffee and began pouring when I heard the words “hippo?”, and looked around to see a hippos head popping out of the water about 20m away!  Luckily he was chilled and didn’t mind our intrusion, so I got to spend time photographing him from the water’s edge.

We resumed with the drive and made a quick return to the north to where Andrea had earlier found Shongile leopardess resting up the most perfect marula tree!  Sadly, she climbed down and moved through the least perfect mopane woodland when we were with her, but we persisted and followed her for some time before she got into an area that was too much, even for us!  Typical of all of our leopards to come out now!

Shongile female

Leopards weren’t on the agenda for the afternoon, and my two new guests had asked for lions and elephants, so after arriving a touch late, they joined up with us and we continued having spent the first part of the drive with hippos and a crocodile.

The north is presently much greener than the south, so all of the elephants are making good use of this and as a result, the north is full of elephants, and we came across a lovely herd along the Nhlaralumi Riverbed and spent some quality time with them as they fed alongside the Land Rover.

Carrying on south to get to the area of the lions, we saw impalas, waterbuck, kudus and steenbuck again, as well as giraffe and some good birds.  Arriving south, we managed to find a lone buffalo bull, and not too long after that, we got to see a crash of 5 rhinos feeding on the green grass along a riverbed.

Closing for drinks nearby, we could still see some of the rhinos in the riverbed below our rocky outcrop and we watched as the sunset on another fantastic day in the bush...but it wasn't over yet!

The line up for the lions had been a bit of a mess all afternoon, but eventually it died down and I got to go in as the last station.  As I was approaching the guide in the sighting broadcast their roaring over the radio, so I stopped and watched in delight as the new guests realised what was waiting just ahead of us!  As we pulled in, they got up and came walking within a metre of the Land Rover – what an experience!!!

Ximpoko and Madande male lions

Then as we got in front of them again, they began roaring once more, but this time Mabande did it as he walked past the Landy, and to have a lion roaring literally 3m from you is an experience not to be forgotten!  They went to rest again before we had to leave them and head back to the lodge, once again being late...but for roaring lions, I didn’t mind!

(apologies for the sore neck watching this, but i dont know how to rotate the video!!!  Thanks Daniela for the video!)

If you missed yesterday’s blog, here is the link for some lovely leopard photos:


  1. The lions roaring ....... how I miss this ...Thank you

  2. Thank you for the video! I loved it.