The weatherman promised hot weather today, and with the thermometer maxing out at 42,5 degrees Celsius, he was wrong…he also said we had an 18 percent chance of rain, and based on how wet I got in the afternoon, it would appear that he wasn’t wrong about that either! Although very localised over the northern part of the reserve – the south for nothing – we recorded 18mm at the lodge, and between 14 and 19mm in the more central regions; a nice downpour to break the heat!
As a day, Friday was perhaps not my favourite ever day, but maybe it was just due to bad choices? I had guests checking out that were very interested in seeing lions, and as none had been showing themselves within our traversing, I decided to try the tarred road in the hope that the western pride would show, but all that we got lucky with was a nice family of nyala and a lone side-striped jackal, still great to see mind you! I carried on and turned back into Argyle just as a herd of elephants I was hoping to see decided to walk over the tarred road, so i missed them too! Luckily, we picked up on some more elephants feeding not long after that. Shongile female leopard was found on the northern boundary, but a buffalo bull came and chased her across into Ingwelala which killed my chances of seeing her; we made do with a lovely herd of elephants along the Sohebele, some impala and a few drinking giraffes instead during the closing part of the morning. Only late in the morning were there any signs of lions – two Sumatra males were found in the far south, tracks for a lone lioness in the central region, tracks for two males in the east, and tracks for a whole pride in the east too…it was late, but we had to take a chance, and headed over to give one of the other guides a hand, and as we were getting closer, he radioed to say that he had found them! I drove into the block to where he was, but it was deep in, in a tricky area, but despite finding Colbert, the lions had moved into an impenetrable thicket, and although I did my best to find them, with time running out, it was not to be, and we returned to the lodge, Difference and I feeling more rejected than the guests, but at least we had a starting point for the afternoon.
The hot weather followed us out on drive, but to the south, the large brewing storm promised cooler weather, but I didn’t think that rain was likely. We headed straight over to the spot where the lions had been and ignored sightings of elephants at Xantasi Dam and by the camp dam, as well as buffalo and general game in the north and heart Argyle Dam. Difference and Goodman went on foot and I bumbled in the east with hippo, wildebeest and impala before I got the call that the trackers had found the lions, and I headed back to them. Whilst waiting for the trackers back at the vehicle, there was a crashing through the bush, right where the trackers were – my heart stopped. In such a thick area, I imagined it to be a buffalo bull, so I was mildly relieved to hear Difference call and say that it was just the lions chasing a giraffe right past them! We had to penetrate the thicket, and eventually managed to find 6 of the 7 lions that we have been calling the Timbavati Pride (although, as mentioned before, I no longer believe they are of the same pride), with one of the males missing. They were mobile in a terrible area, but soon came to rest after their failed hunt, right in the middle of a mopane thicket and right in the middle of a large block of land that took a while to get the next guide in, but eventually we did, just as the rain started to come down! And although it looked like it might pass, it soon fell quite heavily on us and ensured that we were as soaking wet as the wildebeest and impalas that we saw. We made our way to Xanatsi Dam for a drink, and by this stage the rain had stopped and we dried out a bit before checking north of camp (but finding nothing) and then closing down at the lodge – just in time as not long after that, another 13mm of rain fell brining to a total 18mm of the precious liquid to fall over the camp; lets hope that it will be able to give us one last green flush before winter sets in.
So, rain and lions – not something I thought we would have at the start of the day!!!
Let us see how long these lions decide to stick around for this time…