Monday was the last morning for our large group that was in camp, and it got off to a great start – Inkanye female leopard was found resting up a marula tree on our airstrip before heading off east – she is turning into a wonderful and confident leopard! There were a number of elephant herds in the immediate vicinity of the lodge, and we spent some quality time with them before going east to see if the Western Pride had returned from the Kruger; passing zebra, impala, giraffe and wildebeest in the east, we soon found tracks for the pride of lions coming straight back into our concession, and began the process of narrowing down where they had gotten to; Marka was assisting, and after some time, we narrowed it down to a rather large block of land that they had followed a herd of buffalo into, but only tracks for the buffalos came out, but not the lions. With Diff and Petro on foot, we enjoyed another late coffee that concluded with a radio call to say that the lions had been found resting up in a thicket – we went to see them and it looked like they might have had a small meal during the night as they were all breathing quite heavily, but they were not going to be doing too much so late in the morning, and we decided to head back to camp, satisfied with another great tracking effort from our team. We also saw an elephant bull in the area, whilst Richard headed south to see Nthombi female leopard on an impala kill, but she had taken to sleeping under a bush near her kill, so wasn’t her usual photogenic self.
It was only Andries, Robynne and myself driving in the afternoon from Geiger’s and the main lodge, and we all enjoyed wonderful drives. I had some return guests that were here at the height of the rough last year, so it was wonderful to show them the changes – not only in how everything had turned green and filled with water, but also how we have since filled with animals, including lions that they only glimpsed during their last trip!!! I started off going to Argyle Dam after we could see some elephants in the distance, and passed impala, kudu and hippo before locating on what turned out to be only a mother an elephant calf. Richard was on his way to bring out some new guests of mine, so we passed quickly through Piva Plains that was full of warthog, impala, zebra, kudu, waterbuck and wildebeest. After meeting the new guests, we checked along Sohebele Dam, and after some ground hornbills, impala and wildebeest, we found a herd of about 15 elephants drinking in the riverbed and had a stunning sighting of them – one youngster came and grazed less than 1m from Difference! Carrying on, we looked for signs of Inkanye female, but to no avail – the spots we did see were on some giraffe on Piva Plains, so we returned, and WOW! It was one of the most magical scenes i have seen in my time here – there must have been over 200 animals made up of about two dozen zebra, two dozen waterbuck, a dozen giraffes, a family of warthogs, kudu bulls and countless impalas. It was full of animals, and the giraffes all stood int he open necking and playing as the other animals filtered through! Quite a special sighting!!! The guests had asked to see lions if possible, so we opted to head off towards the Western Pride to see if they were still around; we passed hippos, waterbuck, impala and another two herds of elephants with some small babies before arriving to find that the lions had moved! It was close to sunset, so we checked around, but found no tracks leaving the block, so chose to go on foot in the fading light, but luckily Difference is quite good at his job, and we soon stopped their twitching early about 100m from where they had been this morning, and managed to get in to see them as they rested in the open before moving off as the darkness descended over the bush. Petros had found a rhino and calf whilst helping look for the lions, and Andries had an incredible drive in the south; besides the Western Pride, he found elephant, two sets of rhinos, buffalo, had another two male lions (Sumatra males) bump into his drink spot, and got to see Nthombi female leopard up a tree with her kill! To top that off, they ended off the drive with a honey badger – some days are just perfect in the bush; today was one of them!