The Nduna pride got it right. Well sort of.
With Manyari at the helm the pride were on the move before sunset. One gets the feeling that if she wasn’t around, the other lions would spend their days sleeping (Sort of much like the males do. Male lions that is.) And hoping food would be delivered, MacDonald’s style!
After dark out of nowhere the Nduna male joined the pride. I wish I had some of his tactics finding these guys. The youngsters were all happy to see him rubbing against him.
After several attempts on zebra in the mopanie woodland the lions eventually arrived on Banyini. I just love it when they hang out here as it’s fairly open and easy for us traverse. We’re not having to crash over trees to keep up with them.
A herd of impala on the south eastern corner were soon surrounded by the pride and as they closed in on them they bolted. Manyari took the prize! She intercepted an adult female and immediately the rest of the pride were on top of her. Nduna commandeered the kill but the pride weren’t giving in that easily and piled in from all sides. Nduna had no option but to share.
Half an hour later there was only a bloodstain on the grass that a Black-backed Jackal was now cleaning up.
Having drunk at Banyini pan the pride were on the move again. Attempts on impala and zebra were unsuccessful.
Manyari led the pride after sunrise all the way south to just west of Chekwa pan where they rested up for the day.
A white rhino bull came grazing through the area which attracted the attention of this young lioness. Luckily for her, she gave him a miss.
Expecting them to move again I spent several more hours watching sleeping lions. I was in my own shade and have to admit I didn’t do much watching. After a long night I passed out on my camera box for a couple of hours.
31st October 2000
The bitterly cold weather persisted all day, which is no wonder why Tjololo was on the move for a lot of the morning, besides looking rather lean and obviously hungry.
At dawn we found him frantically following a trail until he came up against his neighbour to the southeast. Showdown time. Presumably they had been at it all night as Tjololo had hardly moved from where we had his tracks going into Kruger.
But the showdown was over now and the 2 males headed into their respective territories, Tjololo heading west along the Sand river. He followed the river almost to his western boundary before cutting across the corner and heading into the river to rest.
We tried our luck again in the afternoon hoping to see the White Cloth female cubs, but no joy.
Heading back south we bumped into Shololwane. He’s looking well and was hunting. Resting for a short while, he was suddenly roused by movement in the grass next to him. Next he was standing over a puffadder, a very poisonous African snake. The snake lunged at him when he got too close, but he was quick to jump out the way and left the snake to go its own way. We stayed with him as he went off in search of prey, but had to leave him when it got too dark to film.
I was watching the sunset at Banyini pan expecting it to pick up against the cotton-wool clouds but it never materialised.
It was then I heard the faint roaring of a lion way to the south. Nearly 5kms away we found the Nduna male roaring his heart out. He spent the whole night here giving it a full tonk, roaring about every half hour. No response was forthcoming.
So is this how they find each other? One roars and waits. Somewhere else far away another roars and waits. Doesn’t look too hopeful to me that they can find each other in this way each expecting the other to come to them.
At dawn Nduna took to the road heading east. (he finally realised it wasn’t working) The bush was thick and I soon lost the dude. Hwata pan seemed like a good place to wait, but I never heard or saw him again.
While waiting I heard more lion roars, this time it was several lions a very long way to the north east. Off I went again in search of lions. Again!
This time I got lucky. Actually very lucky. I found Manyari and 6 youngsters resting up in the shade near Chivi. They all look well but not well fed.
With the temperatures sure to hit a high today they eased themselves into whatever shade they could find and so hopefully waiting for me in the area when I return this evening.
Hunting tonight with the lions? Lets hope so.
Not far from camp I came across this humour. Here were all these guineafowl sitting in the shade, seeming to be keeping these nyala from sharing it with them. It’s unlikely this was truly the case but sure spiked my bent sense of humour.
And the nyala bull was so frustrated at all these antics he was ploughing up the mud with his horns. Just his little dominance display. I’m not sure anyone was watching.
30th October 2000
Were we really missing spending our nights out that we spent last night out? We headed north to the area where the White Cloth female had her cubs and spent the night sleeping there hoping she would return to suckle them, but no joy.
In the morning we searched forever for Tjololo and found his tracks heading east into Kruger.
But there was some good news around. We spotted our first impala lamb of the season. So in the next couple of weeks they will start to pop up everywhere and there will be those unfortunate little guys who won’t make it as they fall victim to predators. But many more will survive.
The babies are really dropping with a newborn zebra foal seen this morning and a warthog with 3 piglets yesterday. They must be about 2 weeks old, as they don’t venture out the hole until around that age.
In the afternoon a really cold wind and dark clouds descended on the whole area and luckily the rain held off till after sunset when a gentle drizzle set in, while Tjololo was still doing whatever in Kruger.
Last night we saw no evidence of lions and heard not a peep from them. Me thinks they have really gone into hiding!
After a rough day in the office and not finding lions yesterday and again now, I should be unbearable. But hey I’m on a high! For a change I took my iPod out with me and was blasting away while driving around looking for lions. That’s a sure recipe to put me in a good mood.
But I don’t usually listen to music in the field as I need to be in touch with what’s going on around me and sound is so important. But every now and then it’s great to have a release.
And then added to that I had a brilliant workout. So yes I’m flying again, but no sign of the lions.
At dawn I was on Malilangwe dam filming a Yellow-billed Stork fishing which was quite the rave with my iPod blasting me on.
Back at camp briefly and iPod retired to home I ventured down to Banyini and Chekwa pans.
One-tusk was at Chekwa with her family. She was having to wrestle a young bull to get at the clean water, while her youngsters entertained themselves in the mud.
All was rather peaceful until this young bull arrived in a mood of his own. He stormed around the pan ranting and raving, trashing trees, kicking up dust and just going absolutely ape! Having a bad hormone day? And then he wanted to take it out on me, but luckily stopped short and rushed away to the side.
5 minutes of this behaviour and then it was all over and he was being his peaceful self.
29th October 2000
Our two main missions for the day were to establish how many and what age the hyaena cubs are at the den, and to get to see the White Cloth female’s cubs. Alas both went by unaccomplished. There was no activity at the hyaena and no sign of the leopards in the area we were told to search.
There was no sign of Tjololo’s kill and we soon picked him up to the west heading into the Sand river where he rested up in the reeds. I was surprised to see his kill finished and presume he either dropped it to waiting hyaenas or he’s moved it down towards the Kapen river. He couldn’t have finished it already and his gut doesn’t have the tell tale signs of having done so.
We later did find a bunch of rather lazy lions with a male who seemed to want to get into the vehicle. But he didn’t plan to do so in an orderly manner. He soon calmed down and went to sleep not even 10m from the vehicle. Probably just having a little attitude problem.
Quite a way south of them a herd of some 300 buffalo had already taken the time off for their midday siesta.
In the afternoon we went straight back to the buffalo and spent a few hours with them, but didn’t manage to pick up any behaviour. At least the afternoon produced good light and the potential was almost there for some good images, but again another lean day not filming.