Greetings all, hope that you have noticed that the Blog has been updated on a far more regular basis and promises to be even more frequent when we, I can now say we, as “The Chad” looks to be returning home. After completing his studies, well the better part of them, left only with his dissertation that he will be able to do from Motswari, we can look forward to his return around New Year. Having said that, he will be helping us out over the next couple days as things start to pick up over the Festive Season. Getting back to the Blog, if Chad has not beat me to it, we are wanting to introduce a daily sightings report with a brief overview of the days excitement. We will still post in depth stories and adventures should the tale warrant it, no doubt a fair few of these will rather be about one another's misfortunes. With two of us busy with it, it promises to keep you in the loop and up to date, it should also be far more interactive, with us being able to answer all your questions and debate issues raised.
So recapping the past few days, alla Grant, before switching to the new format, here goes.............
The good rains have continued with us receiving a further 32mm and another 16mm in the past week, adding a further hue of green to the lush wonderland that the bush has become. A few months back I'd never be able to say this, but over the last week we have had some great Lion sightings, not only in number but also in variety. Ending off last week with the White Lions and the Mahlatini's, the White Lions remained in the area for a couple of days before giving us the slip once more during the rains.
We think they may have crossed back into Klaserie as they were on the Western side heading in that direction. They had not eaten in a few days and were travelling great distances around the reserve in search of a meal. They could have been successful on one of their ventures and killed something in one of the blocks deep in the bush, another reason we may not be able to find them. They would not have to move, as they have food and there is water all about. Only the next couple of days will tell.
The Mahlatini's on the other hand headed to the North and back into Klaserie at the beginning of the week. They remained absent till Thursday morning, when we found them on Mbali following a herd of Buffalo that had entered our traversing area the previous day, no big surprises there. Although when we viewed them they seemed to have changed their ways, as all three were feeding on grass and showing very little interest in the Buffalo, maybe they were trying to blend in.
You may have ascertained that our Buffalo herds have returned, after an absence of a couple weeks and with them have come the herds of Elephant, with us finding small breeding herds throughout the reserve. The only one that is not playing along is the Rhino!
Our Leopards are still proving a little challenging but we still find at least one a day. These past days we have had Ntombi, Vyeboom Dam Male and Mbali.
On this occasion she was found with a male Duiker, a small antelope, that she had recently caught. Breaking the norm once again, she hoisted it into a Mopane Tree, this now being only the second time I have seen her lift her prey into a tree and the first time I have seen her actually feeding in it, something must be in the air!
I have two sightings that contended for this weeks number one spot, well actually, the one, won hands down, but it was of such high quality that any sighting would pale in comparison. Strangely enough both came from the same pride of Lions. On both occasions we were kindly invited to view them down on Tanda Tula were the pride holds part of its territory. If you haven't guessed it I'm talking about the Timbavati Males and the Machaton Females.
In second place, we visited the Timbavati Males, who were fast asleep in the shade of a tree, but as the sunset they became a little more active, eventually rousing themselves enough to get mobile. We were parked a short distance away and appeared to be in their path as they sleepily walked head down directly in our direction, mere metres from the car it was if they became aware of us and lifted their heads to look directly at us, it was at this point that I think we all realised how small our vehicle had become and that we were no longer looking down at them but more like directly at eye level. A sudden silence descended on the car nobody daring to breath. At this distance, and not taking into account their physical presence, looking directly into their eyes we all made a connection and finally realised just how powerful they really are!
After what felt like an eternity, and seemingly unfazed by our presence, they walked alongside the vehicle and beneath the seat at the back making their way towards the Machton females who were resting on Giraffe Plains a short distance away.
In first spot, and a definite top five of the year for me, goes to the Machton Females and their four cubs. I think it was a combination of factors that made this sighting a great one! Firstly it was cubs, and the first time that I'd seen them. Secondly, the setting was perfect, they were lying out on an open plain as the sun was setting surrounded by summers emerald green grass. Last but not least, they were active! On arriving the cubs were playing amongst themselves before sitting down to feed on mom. Once finished they again set about playing with one another but this time they involved mom and their aunts. Unfortunately my pictures don't do it justice, but what a great moment and a privilege to witness.
So that brings me to the end, my next blog will be brought to you in the new format but please let us know what you think and should you have any ideas or suggestions please feel free to let us know.
DOH! Completely forgot to mention that we had some unexpected but very welcome visitors. Waking one morning to find tracks of Lion at the top of our reception road we tracked them down to find a splinter group of the Jacaranda Pride, two young males, a young female and an older female. They have spent the past few days in the area and on one occasion whilst tracking them we found where they had killed an Impala and eaten it, being four, it did not go far and they finished it pretty quickly before moving on. Not used to having this quantity or variety of Lions about!