Monday’s mission was to find lions, and although they had been heard roaring north on Ingwelala, I decided to check along the northern boundary to see if any of the Western Pride had returned, but shortly after drive started, lions were heard roaring in the south, and with Johannes in the area following up, it wasn’t going be long before he found them, and sure enough, within a short while he had located on a very mobile Sumatra lioness making her way north-east as the males roared further south. Not finding tracks coming in from Ingwelala, I opted to make the trip south to see the lovely lady; there wasn’t a great deal along the way, but we saw impala, waterbuck, baboons, bushbuck and kudu as we went. We arrived to find the lioness highly mobile, but she proved for great viewing as she walked along the road giving us some great walk-bys as she did. We eventually left her to it and headed further south towards where Nthombi leopardess was resting with her duiker kill, but sadly when we arrived there, rest was all she was doing and after a bit of grooming she flopped down and that was the end of the sighting, so we moved back north towards the lodge passing just a breeding herd of elephants along the way.
The afternoon was a very pleasant one in the north, and it started with the guides finding Machaton male leopard with a very fresh impala kill just west of our airstrip, but he moved the kill into a thicket, so it wasn’t the best visual. Nthombi female was still in the south having finished her duiker kill, but we all stayed up north with dozens of elephants on Piva Plains and around Argyle Dam in the lovely light of the afternoon. Whilst watching them,. Richard radioed to say that he had found a mating pair of lions at Buffalo Pan, and after we were done with the elephants, we moved in the direction of the lions and had a lovely view of them in the open. The interesting thing was that the same Western Pride female that was mating with the limping male last month was now in the company of one of the old Western Pride males, but he was not looking in the best condition ever; it still didn’t stop him from mating, even if the female was not interested at all!!! It is one of the few times I have seen a male initiating the mating process! Sadly, not seeing the males in the north too often, I am a bit lost about the dynamics of this pride, and where the limping male fits in – I am not sure he is the coalition partner of the male mating today, and if that is the case, why is he allowed in the area!!! That being said, after looking at my photos, it seems that it might just be that he is the other coalition partner, and nothing has changed, which based on the behaviour of late, would be the correct assumption. Regardless, we got to enjoy a lovely sighting of them before moving off to check on the hyena den, passing impala and another herd of elephants along the way. The hyena cubs were out and playing around as mom lay close by resting, but with the light fading, we soon left and went for a drink to end off a lovely day. We made our way home past another male leopard’s kill, but besides several hyenas in the area, there was no sign of him, and nor indeed was Machaton male still around. Angie saw the Leadwood female leopard on her way home to round off a great afternoon for the cats in the north. I tried Argyle Dam for any hippos to complete my promise of hyenas, lions and hippos for today, but they had already left the water…luckily, I know I will see hippos tomorrow!