Sunday morning was my last morning with my group of guests, and having had enjoyed some good game viewing over the last few days, I didn’t have any specific mission, but a request had been made for some elephants, and so I thus spent the first part of the morning checking around the northern sections of Argyle, but everything was rather quiet to begin with, and besides a few impala and kudu, there wasn’t too much going on. The hyena den was active this morning in the cool conditions, so I decided to pop over in that direction after seeing some more impala. There were a number of adult hyenas around and a couple of the young sub-adults, but the little cubs weren’t out – it was still very nice to spend time with the active clan members. Frustratingly, a herd of elephants had popped up at Buffalo Pan not long after I had passed through the area, as did some giraffes – instead, I opted to go and stop at Mbali Dam for a lovely morning coffee with some distant hippos before moving towards Java to look for some elephants that had been seen earlier. We got lucky and found a super relaxed herd moving along the road before slowing down to feed – one of the females came walking within inches of the back row of seats of the Land Rover – a great experience indeed! We then found another herd a few hundred metres away as well as some lone elephant bulls in the area before making our way towards Java Dam; we had no sooner turned off from Java Airstrip and were making our way through a little drainage line when i looked down and saw a leopard lying flat on the ground looking up at us from no more than 2m away!!! I didn’t stop immediately, as we were literally right next to him, so carried on and turned around before seeing that the leopard had gotten up and was walking off to the south; based on the initial reaction, I assumed it was Ntima male as both he and Tshwukunyana male leopards had left the area of the kill from the last couple of days, but upon catching up, saw that it was not Ntima, but a very relaxed Tshwukunyana! We followed him for a while before having to part company so as to allow the guests to get back to the lodge in order to catch their transfers out. It was a great way to end their stay! Our injured rhino and her calf were found, and she was looking in good shape, which is very encouraging.
My afternoon was starting with a new set of guests in the camp for a couple of nights; their requests were for elephant and anything else as it was their first time. The more experience father and son had a slightly more difficult list, but were also happy with what showed up. We found our first elephant not 1km from the lodge where we found large bull in musth ambling down the road towards us; after he passed, we opted to look for others rather than stick with him. It was only a couple of hundred metres down the road where we found a very relaxed big, old bull and spent some nice time in his company. Robynne managed to find the rhinos again, but I went south hoping that Tswukunyana male or Ntima would pitch up, but instead we were faced with a very quiet drive in the south, and although we found a distant herd of elephants, there was actually very little going on. One of the other stations found Duma male lion a few kilometres west of us, so we started heading towards him passing impala and a hippo, but really, not much else at all! We were a few minutes from the sighting when I asked Difference to jump out and get the spot light; as he did so, one of the guests said “lion”, and it took a second to realise that it wasn’t just the only word of a french sentence that I understood, but that he was actually saying that there was a lion – not 15m away, the two Sumatra male lions had been disturbed by Difference landing on the ground, but luckily they hadn’t seen him, so they remained unmoved, and we managed to enjoy a lovely sighting of them as they stirred and started moving towards Duma, roaring as they did so! Sadly I was the only vehicle to see them as they walked down into the Nhlarlalumi and I left the area so that Henry could go and see Duma male, who wisely listened to the roars and moved westward. We made the long trip home not seeing much besides a chameleon along the route. Still, it was a worthwhile trip to the south, and we look forward to what tomorrow brings.