Thursday, 14 February 2013

10th and 11th February – The Cats Come Out!

Photo of the Day
Rockfig Jnr and her 14-month old son

10th February Morning Drive
(Chad, Peter and Shaddy)
1 x leopard (Argle Jnr’s girl) – Argyle, Buffalo Pan
4 x rhinos

1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Jaydee Access

10th February Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Peter, Grant and Shaddy)
2 x lions (Ximpoko and Mabande males) – Kings, Mafikizolo Rd
5 x lions (Mayumbula Pride?) – Vielmetter, Double Highway
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Scholtz, Mananga Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp
1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Dizzy Drive
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Dizzy Drive
3 x buffalo bulls – Mbali, Moeniejag Mudwallows

11th February Morning Drive
(Chad, Peter, Grant and Shaddy)
2 x leopards (Rockfig Jnr and cub with impala kill) – Kings, Double Highway
2 x rhinos
2 x rhinos
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Machaton Wedge
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Entrance Rd
1 x elephant – Motswari, Camp

11th February Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Peter, Johannes, Grant and Shaddy)
3 x lions (Ximpoko, Mabande and Machaton female) – Tanda Tula Giraffe Plains
1 x lion (Machaton young male) – Tanda Tula, Giraffe Plains
2 x leopards (Rockfig Jnr and cub) – Vielmetter, Double Highway
4 x rhinos
1 x rhino
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Java Dam Access
2 x elephants – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd South
3 x buffalo bulls – Mbali, Moeniejag Crossing

Daily Synopsis

I’m starting to wonder if I can still call this a daily blog!!!  Once more, apologies for the slow postings, but between hosting most nights and doing bush walks, I haven’t been finding the time to sit down and upload these...oh, that, and the sightings the last few days have been pretty special, so loads of photos to edit!  On that note, be sure to check out tomorrows post, and yes, it will be up tomorrow!!!

Anyways, back to like last week when I last updated this...for once, I decided to just take it easy in the north and bumbled about in the area ticking off a lone elephant bull, waterbucks, impalas, a couple troops of baboons, and a young crocodile; it was a nice chilled drive, but not a lot of action.

The afternoon saw me having one mission again with my guests, including some new arrivals – get to the Ximpoko male lions around 7pm for a roaring good time.  I took the brave decision to go east on their first drive – not always a bad thing, as you know that your drives can only get better after some time there!

We dodged a load of spiders, saw some very distant zebras and impalas, a few kudus and even some giraffe in the area, as well as a small herd of elephants that kept us company for a while.

Once reaching the central area again, we were treated to a large breeding herd of buffalo grazing around on the lush grass of Vielmetter, as well as enjoying the mudwallows to cool off after a hot day!

After a drink, we moved towards the lions, but they had woken up themselves and began moving north through some very wet areas, but the guides managed to keep up and Grant and I arrived as the lions pitched up on the road and kindly proceeded to walk along it, giving us a couple of walk-bys before lying was only a matter of time then before the inevitable, and with the bigger of the males only about 10m away from us, he began with a low “ummmmmf” before facing us and breaking into a full on roar!  Once again, what an amazing experience!  I love these boys!!!  If that wasn't a bonus for us, Peter bumped into a pride of 5 lions on our eastern boundary that we believe are the Mayambula Pride, a seldom seen group from that area!  I tried to find them on the way home, but had no luck.

Leaving them late, we had a long, long way to go home, and as per usual, I got back just in time for dinner, but once more, with a wonderful group, we had a great evening of fun, wine and laughter!

The next morning I was keen to go and track some rhinos, so headed south, not seeing much as we went, but as there had been some rhinos in the area the night before, we went to try our luck.  One of the other guides found the rhinos I had just began tracking, and as I wasn't far, I moved slowly towards that direction, but stopped and spent time with a lovely herd of giraffes in the early morning light – was actually a great sighting!

Thinking the rhinos would be easy to relocate, I told the guide he could leave them and I would follow up shortly, another bunch of giraffes later and I arrived to find no we began tracking, but as we expanded the search, their tracks went so far off that we thought we might have been tracking the wrong rhinos.  While Petros was on foot we bumped into a lovely herd of elephants, but as they were highly mobile in his direction, I went to pick him up and we resumed tracking in a vehicle, but finding no tracks leaving the area (except for those of the elephants) Petros went on foot again as I stopped for coffee, and as I finished coffee, he radioed to tell me that he had found them, so we went in and had a view of the rhinos – there were no photo opportunities as the rhinos were resting in the shade already as the morning had heated up a lot! 

Leaving them, we needed to make a quick tyre change before heading back to the camp, a bit disappointed that we missed out on some leopards further south – the sighting had to be closed as the ground was too wet, but at least it is something for the afternoon.

Yet again going out with new guests that asked to see cats, I thought the best would be to go south as there was a chance of leopard, and the lions had also been found again this morning.

Again I tried a bit in the east and saw some impala, kudus, distant zebras and a lone wildebeest after having started off the drive with a lone elephant cow and calf near the lodge.

Things then got a bit quiet as I was making my way south – I first went to check up on an impala kill Marka had found in the morning, but all that was left was the legs, so the leopard had been around, but had now moved on – I then went to check on Rockfig Jnr and her cub on another nearby kill, but there was no sign, so I turned around and stopped to watch a snake eagle when suddenly Petros spotted the leopards walking through the bush towards us!  What luck!  We followed them all the way back to where the other kill was, and that solved the mystery of “whose kill was is?”

We then moved to Giraffe Plains to see the Ximpoko males and a Machaton female, and as we arrived on the plains, the guests spotted a lion, but not the ones we were going to see!  Another bonus!  We identified it as a young female, but subsequently were told it was a young male from the Machatons, and looking at the pics now, I could see Petros and I were wrong...just as we were when we tried to cross a gully to get to the other lions!  And yes, we got stuck...again!  and yes, we needed to be pulled out, again!

We did manage to see the other lions, but our timing was not so good and they didn’t roar or do much else while we were there, but it was still great to see them!

As it was late (again) I headed back and once more just made it in time for dinner, but with delighted guests, no one was too concerned about it!

Normally I say I look forward to seeing what the next few days bring, but as I already know, I can tell you that they were pretty special, so do be sure to read about those stories tomorrow!!!


  1. Fantastic photos, Chad. Looking forward to coming over in August!!

  2. If I was you Chad, I'd leave the tow-rope attached to the vehicle ;) Wonderful blog, as always ! Rosie.

  3. Hi Chad
    Great to see the image of Rockfig jnr and cub. The cub has grown so much since we saw her last year.

    Looking forward to seeing them again this year.

    Take care and keep a long tow rope handy.



  4. Really enjoy your "sharp" waterbuck pictures. Keep up the good work.