I am back on drive, and have my camera as a companion once more 🙂 Sunday afternoon started much later than usual as my guests only checked in around 4pm, but luckily our trip to Geiger’s Camp saw us enjoying a group of nine elephant bulls feeding on the riverbank in front of the main lodge. We eventually got out at around 17h30, so only had a short drive in the cloudy, windy and quite miserable conditions, but it was a nice little jaunt. We couldn’t make it down to see the two Machimba male lions on their buffalo kill, and sadly Machaton male leopard was lost as we were approaching the area, but we still went to see if we could get lucky. Around Argyle Dam, we enjoyed the hippos emerging from the water for their night feed, but sadly found no sign of the leopard. Checking the north, we only had some impala, waterbuck and a chameleon before we closed down at the lodge. The wild dogs were on the Kruger boundary again, which is leading us to suspect that they are denning in the area.
In the morning, we had intentions of going south to see the Machimba male lions (they were still around this morning), but when there were tracks for a lioness moving through the main lodge, we opted to follow up on those, hoping that there was more than just one lioness around; soon tracks for the whole Western Pride let us know there were more than one lion…and from what the trackers saw, they had the cubs with them! We found impala and three elephant bulls as we drove around before dropping Difference off to track, and with Petros’s help, it didn’t take long for them to call me to let me know that they had found the lions, but they were on the move straight towards the northern boundary; luckily, after a bit of persistence we managed to track them down again, and the pride were at rest in a thicket to get out of the cool wind – not the best visual ever, but still great to see the pride back in our concession. Only eight of the adults were present, and the oldest lioness was absent; the cubs were not with the pride either, leading us to believe that they must have been dropped off not far from where the pride was found. The rest of the morning saw us enjoy a cup of coffee on the banks of the Sohebele before heading back for breakfast. We received a report that the wild dogs were back in the east once more, but no one got there in the morning; instead sightings of elephant bulls, a buffalo herd and a couple of crashes of rhinos were found, mostly in the south.
The afternoon saw Henry head east to look for the wild dogs, and he managed to find them coming in from the Kruger, without the alpha female, almost certainly indicating that they have got a den site in the area, but it seems likely that it is just within side the Kruger. We will be keeping a look out on the area, but hopefully this pack will provide for some good viewing over the coming weeks, even if it is only when they are hunting. It is a different pack from the ones that denned last year (although we suspect that this pack denned nearby too, as we found them shortly after the pups became mobile in a very similar area in 2016). After seeing some elephant bulls and impala near the camp, we headed east to try for the wild dogs, but due to the thickets in the area, we managed nothing more than a 5 second sighting of two of them before they disappeared. We also ticked off zebra and wildebeest in the east before a drink to end the day; we made our way towards the Machimba male lions, but found only one of the males near the kill. He was sadly the more nervous of the boys and moved off when we approached, but we managed to get into position after he had roared behind a bush; he lay around for a bit before sitting up and disappearing up the bank towards where the second male was roaring from. The trip home was quiet, but with the clouds gone, the stars (including a shooting one!) came out and we headed back to the lodge for a lovely dinner and a welcome rest.