Sunday, 27 January 2013

25th and 26th January – Mafikizolo Pride Make a Return!

Photo of the Day
Mafikizolo young male - back in our area, albeit with one eye less!

25th January Morning Drive
2 x rhinos
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Hammerkop Rd

25th January Afternoon Drive
(Chad and Giyani)
1 x leopard (Rockfig Jnr Female) – Vielmetter, Western Cutline
2 x rhinos
1 x rhino

26th January Morning Drive
(Chad and Giyani)
5 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride – 2 males and 3 females) – Jaydee, Ndlovu Rd
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing
1 x elephant bull – Karans, Western Cutline
3 x rhinos

26th January Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Giyani and Herold)
5 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride – 2 males and 3 females) – Jaydee, Ndlovu Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Java Dam Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Western Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Karans, Western Cutline

Daily Synopsis
You can tell I am near the end of my month cycle at work as the blog posts take longer and longer to go up!  So once more, apologies for that!

Luckily, the last two days were rather good ones for me, so it is great to be able to share them!  Friday morning started out with us all feeling a bit fragile having only managed about three hours sleep following a rather extended boma session, but the fresh morning air brought us all to life as we headed to Argyle Dam and sat enjoying the baboons and hippos in the area; as usual, there were also some impalas to keep us company.

Enjoying the view from Lover’s Leap, we soon moved on and found ourselves a very relaxed male giraffe, as well as a herd of elephants nearby, so we went and spent time with them as they fed on the lush greenery.

Two rhinos had been found in the west in the morning, so we headed over to see if we could have luck relocating, and the morning went through a rather quiet patch, and only a few impalas popped up, and we arrived to find no rhinos.  Luckily Petros had better luck tracking them down this morning and a minute later he radioed to tell me he had them, so we drove the hundred metres to where the two young males were resting under a shady tree on a now very warm morning!

Despite the heat, I went on a bush walk with some of my guests and the new camp hippo put on a great show splashing about in the dam, but besides that, we enjoyed the smaller aspects of the bush.

I was keen for cats in the afternoon, so went south via Argyle Dam and Piva and Sohebele Plains – we saw nice hippos, impalas and waterbuck along the way. 

A de tour through the east was unsuccessful, and the elephant that had been so evident the day before were nowhere to be seen, and only a couple herds of impala showed themselves.

Even Vielmetter was quiet, and only at Hide Dam did we find some impalas and a warthog that we stopped to watch.  Through the wind, I could hear some guineafowls alarm calling, and decided to check it out. Stopping a few hundred metres away, I listened again and heard a single impala alarm snort, so now I thought we were on to something.  It was while stopped a second time seeing some guineafowls up ahead that Petros spotted something on the road – a peek through my binoculars revealed a the raised tail of a leopard walking down the road so we moved closer and for the second afternoon in a row found Rockfig Jnr out and about and followed her for some time before moving off to go and enjoy a sundowner – sadly we missed the rhinos that Giyani had seen in the south, but we did get some zebras.

The guests asked Petros for a chameleon on the way home, and he kindly obliged, but there was not much else about, however, we still had a wonderful day in the bush!

Saturday morning didn’t really have a mission, but as it was my last drive with my guests, I wanted to end on a high.  We began by finding fresh elephant droppings, and soon found the two elephant bulls responsible for them and sat and watched them digging up the tubers of bushman’s grape bushes right next to the vehicle, making for a lovely sighting.  A bit further along the road, we found another elephant eating marula berries, but he interestingly/worryingly had some rather strange growths on his body – I await an answer from the researchers as to what they think its from?

The southern stations had invited us south to go and see the Machaton lions, but on hearing that tracks for a pride had been found crossing the Nhlaralumi to my side of the river, I decided to go and check in that area instead.  After coffee at Java Dam we passed the airstrip and enjoyed some impalas and giraffes before going to look for the lion tracks.

Petros found some tracks, but based on who had walked over them, we knew they were from early in the evening, and on hard soils, so this wasn't going to be easy, and as it was already almost 9am, we didn’t have much time, but we tried anyway.  A little further south of where Petros was following the tracks, I found some more and went to pick him up; he began following as I went to jump ahead to the next road when he called me back to say that he had already found them!  Luckily he did well enough to spot them without being spotted, so we got to see five of the Mafikizolo lions resting in the shade!  The lionesses moved off, but the males were as relaxed as ever...sadly though, the gorgeous big male has been blinded in one of his eyes, and those rich chestnut coloured eyes are only half as nice now – wonder if it was a tussle with the Ximpoko males?

With the guests amazed and chuffed with Petros’s work, we headed back to the lodge for some breakfast and checkouts.

With a new group of guests – my last for the cycle – I began knowing that I at least had lions to see!  Some guests arrived late, so I did a loop in the north (seeing impala, steenbuck and waterbuck) before picking the guests up and carrying on with drive.

Seeing more waterbuck, impalas and some birds (which my guests had an interest in) we moved to Argyle Dam for some hippos before more waterbuck and impala on the clearings along the river as we tried to see a herd of buffalo that Herold had found earlier – sadly they had moved into Mbali which is still closed after the rain.

There wasn't a great deal else until we got to the lions just before sunset, and had a lovely 40 minutes with them as they set off on the hunt, but sadly the only impalas they came across spotted them and they looked elsewhere for a meal – was great to see even the lionesses slowly getting relaxed!

It was late already, so we passed on drinks and headed back to camp, quite pleased with what the last couple of days had gifted us!  It is always a treat finding your own sightings, and the last few days definitely proved lucky for Petros and I; lets hope it lasts!


  1. Wonderful collection of photos. Love them all. Thank you so much!!

  2. great photos and updates Chad, the Mafikizolo males and pride are looking great, how do you think the 2 Mafikizolo males compare to the 2 Ximpoko males in size and dominance, have they had any interactions with eachother or with the 2 Sohebele males. The older Mafikzolo male looks like he is going to be a big male.

  3. As usual wonderful photos and a great account of the sightings. All the best to you for keeping up the good work

  4. Love the photos Chad!
    Pity about the male lions eye, but that is part of nature.