Saturday saw a fresh start to the day following last night’s rain, and with a slight breeze and hard soils, we weren’t all that convinced that the animals would play along, but we went out there to give it our best shot. As most of the guides didn’t get to see the lions last night, they were keen on following up there, and I opted to head south to get out of the way, but whilst heading south, we found tracks for the six members of the “Timbavati” pride, and they had walked after the rain, so we decided to follow up a bit until the Robynne and the trackers could get into the area – unfortunately as I was tracking I found another two guides already busy with the tracks, and I decided to leave the area and go and help Dave with tracks for the two Machimba male lions that had come north from Java. I left Difference on the tracks, and would have loved to have followed up with him, but as Dave hadn’t seen lions with his Java guests, I left them to it and carried on south. It was a quiet morning, although we started out with a brief sighting of two honey badgers, which had been on my guests’ wishlist. Moving south, it was very, very quiet with only some waterbuck, very few impala, hippos at Makulu Dam and a couple of giraffes showing up. Whilst at the dam, Dave radioed to let us know that they had tracked down the lions, but they were a bit more nervous than usual, and had moved into a thicket, but once he let me know that they had settled down, I veered off in their direction, checking some of the south for a change of scenery along the way; we only ticked off zebra and giraffe before moving east. The section was looking nice and green, and much better grass cover than anywhere else in the reserve, but there was a distinct lack of animals – we had a coffee and then ticked off some buffalo bulls at a pan before going to see if we could locate where Dave had last seen those lions. Heading towards the area, we picked up tracks for the lone Sumatra lioness, and followed them into the same block that the males had been seen in, and after seeing that there were no tracks coming out for any of them, decided to tray with a vehicle, and we got lucky when Difference somehow spotted the lioness sleeping in the tall grass just in front of us! Henry told me that when he saw her last, she was in a terrible condition, and whilst she was still rather thin with a few ribs showing, she wasn’t in as dire a condition as I had thought she would be. Even without a recent meal, she is one gorgeous lioness! She was sniffing the air, presumably looking for the males, but they were not to be found, and our time was up, so we headed off back to the lodge. Robynne and Angie’s trackers had worked hard to follow the other lions almost all the way across the reserve and the pride was found on the move before settling in the south-western sections late in the morning. They were still around for the guides and guests in the afternoon, but the leopards didn’t play along today. Tracks for either Ntima or Tshwukunyana were walking around Java, and Kevin found where the leopard had killed an African wild cat and left its body untouched on the road, but the leopards were not showing themselves…at least the lions are back, much to the delight of everyone 🙂
I will be back on drive tomorrow afternoon with more updates.