Saturday morning was a chilly one, and things started off quietly, but with a lovely sunrise to greet us, we were happy to be out. We had a bit of excitement when a large elephant bull in musth came to chase away the relaxed bull we had been watching until that moment; the then turned his attention to us, so we left him in peace and joined the nearby elephant herd instead where we spent a bit of time. Following on from that, things got a bit quiet, but we eventually ticked off some nice birds, impala, kudu, waterbuck, giraffe and zebras before closing for a coffee on the banks of Mbali Dam; heading home we failed to find any hippos in the dam, and even the ones at Argyle Dam were also hiding when we passed! It was a quiet morning for us, but elsewhere in the reserve, things were not so bad – the biggest surprise was that we spent a good part of the morning looking at fresh tracks for the Western Pride that had already made a return – I opted to follow up on them rather than go to the lions that had been found in the south…as the sighting of the two young males went on, it soon became apparent that the lions were one and the same, and soon all nine members of the Western Pride were found right in the very south of our concession, and it was a bit of a surprise that they ended up so far away – further that I have ever seen them go.
This became a plan for the afternoon, and we headed straight south after having spent the afternoon enjoying elephants all around the lodge; we didn’t tick off too much as we moved towards Makulu Dam, but arriving in that area, we got kudu, impala, giraffe, a large breeding herd of buffalo that we waited for to feed past us, and they were joined by an elephant bull in musth. At the dam, there were a load of elephant bulls playing in the water, and a large herd of elephants feeding on the banks. From there we moved towards the lions and arrived as the sun was setting and they started to stir – so nice to see a pride of 9 adults! Another reason for coming south was that Nthombi female leopard had been seen in the south in the morning, and she was still around in the evening, so we took the chance to go and see her; we had a nice sighting as she woke up and walked of before disappearing down into the Nhlaralumi riverbed. Heading back home we saw bushbaby, civet and a lovely eagle owl to round off a successful day. Ntima male leopard was also seen in the central regions, whilst closer to home Shongile female leopard was seen having a fight with another female leopard just 300m from the lodge! I am sure it was her daughter, but it is good to see that Shongile is using this part of her territory again, and defending it so vigorously.