If yesterday’s zero percent chance of rain led to us getting wet, then I don’t know why I was surprised that this morning’s two percent chance of rain led to the same thing! We woke up to the sound of rain falling, but luckily for the safari-goers, this rain eased off by just after 6am and we headed out with a stunning sunrise on one side, and an incredible rainbow on the other – what a start to the day! And this start just kept up; we went to check around Argyle Dam to see if there were any signs of the male lions – and hoping that the rain hadn’t destroyed the tracks too badly. Whilst watching the hippos, alarm calling impalas on the southern side of the dam drew Difference’s attention and we started making our way around there, first checking in the riverbed where the male lions had been last night; there we found a wet and bedraggled Burchell’s coucal and spent time photographing him when, for the second time in only a few days, a mighty roar came emanating from the bush not far behind us. We quickly made our way in that direction and soon found the proud-looking Duma male lion walking through the bush, followed closely by an ailing Ross male lion. The difference in condition was stark. Their situation was unusual. But the bond that these two lions seem to have formed out of nowhere was nothing short of remarkable, and it was supremely evident in the way that both males showed a great deal of affection towards one another, and if I were one to anthropomorphasize animal behaviour, I would most certainly have read into it that it was Duma’s way of encouraging the old Ross male to stick with him, and he would be looked after. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people, and as a result cant see how long this relationship will last as hanging out with the old male and being slowed down as he is, is not in Duma’s survival interest. Time will tell what happens, but for this morning, we just enjoyed being abel to spend time with these boys as the moved about. As we were preparing to leave them and go and follow up on the impalas that were still calling near Argyle Dam, another station found that it was Inkanye female leopard back in her usual territory that was causing this concern, and we made our way to go and see her. unfortunately, she was lost in a thick area, so we carried on to check in the area that she was heading, and Difference found tracks for her walking towards a small rocky protrusion, so we circled around there and soon found her walking along the top of the rocks, scent-marking heavily after the rains, and her absence from the area. We followed behind as she made her way towards a marula tree to scent mark it, but she then caught me off guard with the camera as she sprung up the tree and lay there grooming. A gorgeous sighting, and another wonderful way to start the day. Zebras and giraffes were next on the menu for the guests, so we headed west in search of them, and found a large herd of giraffes feeding in one of their favourite spots, and this was followed by a dazzle of zebras joining us for coffee. We also ticked off kudu, waterbuck, impala, and a lone elephant bull during the course of the morning before closing down after a successful one night stay for my guests.
My afternoon drive was also not abad one, and it started with us spending time with a large herd of elephants that we found not far from Giraffe’s Nest – they were in the company of some baboons and impalas too. Leaving them, we opted to head south hoping to see the large herd of buffalo that had made their way into the area in the morning, with the two Sumatra male lions as company. We succeeded in finding some kudus, impalas and another two herds of elephants – including one drinking at Java Dam. With a stunning sunset about to happen, we stopped for drinks on Java airstrip before moving south after dark, and arrived to hear that the Sumatra male lions were on the move towards Entrance Dam; we joined up with the sighting as they found a lone male wildebeest in the moonlight, and we sat with lights out and tried to see if they would have luck, but with the brightness of the moon, it wasn’t long before the wildebeest saw them and ran off. The lions sniffed the air for their next meal but soon fell back asleep as the Machimba males roared to the east, but their confidence was not enough to roar back, at least not so close to their territorial boundary. We left them and made our way home passing two elephant herds in the dark as well as a few chameleons before closing down at the lodge. Robynne found a leopard on the airstrip that she thought could have been Inkanye, but it may well have been Shongile’s daughter; either way, she was lost when she moved into a thicket and didn’t come out.