Sunday, 10 February 2013

8th February – River 1 – 0 Lions

Photo of the Day

Argyle Jnr's little girl

Morning Drive
(Chad and Grant)
2 x leopards (Argyle Jnrs cubs with an impala kill) – Argyle, Leadwood Bush Braai
1 x leopard (Rockgfig Jnr female) – Vielmetter, Dizzy Drive
1 x elephant cow – Vielmetter, Vielmetter-Alberts Cutline

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant and Shaddy)
2 x lions (Ximpoko and Mabande males) – Kings, Ridge Rd
2 x lions (Makifizolo males) – Peru, Snare Rd
1 x leopard (Makepisi male) – Peru, Snare Rd
1 x leopard (Argyle Jnr’s boy with impala kill) – Argyle, Leadwood Bush Braai
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Palm Crossing
1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Dizzy Drive
1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Vielmetter-Alberts Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Buchner
1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Sweetwater Pan
1 x buffalo bull – Vielmetter, Sweetwater Pan
1 x buffalo bull - Buchner

Daily Synopsis
Heading out, I was in desperate need of a leopard, but on hearing that the 12mm of rain we received last night was nothing compared to what the rest of the reserve got (most the south and west got around 50mm), and that this rain had caused all the rivers to start flowing again and closed off road driving across most of the reserve, I sort of resigned myself to the fact that this was unlikely to happen.

I made my way south, mostly wanting to go check up on the giraffe kill, but as it was in the Nhlaralumi River which was now flowing bank to bank, I wasn't sure what to expect?  The trip down was a bit quiet, but arriving where we saw all the animals last night, we did find a large group of giraffes on Java airstrip and spent time with them.

Moving along, we braved Steep Machaton Crossing and crossed easily before pausing at Leopard Rock Hide for a wonderful view over the Nhlaralumi as the sun shone through.  It was at about this time that the game started picking up, and for a day following the rain, the sightings established were quite impressive – sadly with off roading not possible, most of the animals were lost – the two Ximpoko and Mabande male lions were found following a buffalo herd, a pack of wild dogs, and a leopard in a marula tree were found in a short space of time as I sat and watched the water rush over the giraffe kill in the river, but only the hyenas and vultures had stuck around to wait it out – the lioness had moved on!  Of all the things we thought would take the kill, the river was the last of them!!!

Click for a larger view

Grant was watching a backlit leopard some 50m off the road, and I was desperate enough to try get there, and managed to get through the Machaton River again, but it was all in vain, as I had no sooner got through when the leopard jumped down the tree and disappeared!  Luckily in the north, three leopards were found with a kill, and I now had to take a chance and make the long trip back there!

It wasn't the most productive trip back north, but we saw a lone elephant cow, impalas, a troop of baboons, a tree smoking from a lightning strike and some zebras.

Arriving back north, we were lucky to find that the Nhlaralumi had dropped enough to allow us to cross at Concrete Crossing and get to the western side where the leopards had managed to get some of their kill back from the hyenas; we arrived to a rather distant visual of Argyle Jnr’s two youngsters – the boy was resting on a log and the girl was up a marula tree with the kill, but she soon came down and joined her brother before moving off – it was a distance away, but still good to see them considering the limitations!  Two Mafikizolo male lions had also been found in the north, but they too had moved off the road leaving no sighting; luckily the sun was shining and dried up some of the areas during the day.

With some new guests for the afternoon, I was keen for an afternoon in the north with the leopards and the lions, but on hearing all the vehicles heading in that direction, I made my way south; it was very quiet and I wondered if I had made the right choice, especially when the two Mafikizolo’s were found with Makepisi male leopard in a tree 20m from them!

Luckily things worked out for me, and after only impala and kudu, in the south we got some giraffes, a lone elephant bull and then a small herd of elephants that we spent time with.  One more elephant was seen before the wild dogs were relocated – they were making their way to my side of the river, but lost as they approached the Nhlaralumi – I tried on my side, but they didn’t cross and sadly we were unable to find any sign of them, so we stopped for a lovely drink in the Nhlaralumi itself before carrying on.

With the Ximpoko and Mabande males nearby, we went just after sunset, and as per their usual MO, they got active and began roaring only metres from our Land Rover, totally making the whole trip south worth our while!

We then had a long trip back to the lodge that didn’t produce too much, but we were rather chuffed with another good day – lets just hope the leopards hang around in the north until tomorrow morning!


  1. The fifth picture from the bottom would make an exceptional picture/poster !

  2. I noticed some giraffes are alot darker in color than others ... why is that? Do they get darker with age? And how on earth to you tell each leopard from the other?! You always know whos who! They all look alike to me, except the 1 with the blue eyes, lol! Great photos as usual Chad :)