Saturday morning started out a little warmer than the previous day as I headed off in search of my hyenas, giraffes and cheetah following last night’s promises; we watched the sun rise over Piva Plains with impala and waterbuck in the area, and if we had stayed a few minutes later, it would also have included the seven members of the Western Pride of lions that Angie found at Argyle Dam shortly after I left the area – but as they weren’t on my list, I ignored them for the morning and moved towards the hyena den, knowing that there was a good chance of finding giraffes in that area too. It thus wasn’t long before some of the world’s tallest animals popped into view and we spent time with the group before moving on to the hyena den. It was a little active when we arrived with one mother and the two small cubs out, but got more active upon the return of another adult, which resulted in excited greetings and the emergence of another two older cubs. We carried on from there and I was undecided as to whether to go towards Ntima male leopard who was closer to Makulu Dam, or make it towards the Western Pride as we had only seen lions in the dark previously. In the end, I opted to go see neither, and quite unbelievably, headed south towards Cheetah Plains to see, you guessed it, a cheetah! With the cheetah moving towards the very southern boundary of our concession, there was a chance she would cross out before I got there, but it was a chance worth taking, and so I slowly meandered along the Nhlaralumi to the south and then followed the Machaton River towards the general area of the cheetah; as usual, with a place to get to, the animals stared showing up – two elephant herds drinking at Mbali Dam, another elephant bull further south along the Nhlaraumi, a third elephant herd at the confluence of the riverbeds, giraffes, impalas and nyalas. Luckily though, they didn’t slow us down too much and we arrived in the area to soon join the sighting of the cheetah as she got mobile – and what a stunning cat she was! She was probably the most relaxed cheetah I have ever seen here and we had a lovely view of her walking around in search of a meal before parting company and making our way back north to the lodge…I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would have been able to fulfil a promise to show my guests cheetah, but there you go!
My afternoon plan was to go and see a herd of several hundred buffalos that had been seen on Java late in the morning, but it turned out to be a bit of a quiet one, as the buffalo herd was no where to be found, unless of course it was the small herd of 50 odd that had been seen in the area? I had seen a buffalo bull in the morning, and that remained the solitary buffalo for the day! Instead, we got to enjoy thousands of red-billed quelea’s around the lodge, a lovely scenic drive along the riverbed that also included a sighting of a herd of elephants as well as a lone elephant bull, giraffes, impalas and nyala. Crocodiles and hippos were seen at Argyle Dam, and we stopped for a stunning sundowner at Leopard Rock Hide before going back north. Ntima male leopard had been relocated, but we opted to go and see the Western Pride of lions that had gotten active and moved east from Sohebele Dam – we arrived as the pride settled again to groom, but one-by-one they flopped to the ground and entered a deep state of sleep that was not going to result in an exciting sighting, so we left them and headed back to the camp where a lone elephant bull joined us in the moonlight to round off a rather enjoyable day in the bush. I bravely promised active lions, wild dogs and rhinos for tomorrow…lets see if lightening can strike twice!