As a result of the drought in the north, Klopperfontein Drift has recently become a magnet for lions. I had quite a few sightings there both last month and at the beginning of this one. I suspect that there were lions around almost continuously, even though they were not always to be seen. Klopperfontein is tricky, there are lots of places for lions to hide and even when they are not really hiding they are not necessarily that easy to spot.
I do not carry a camera, so my apologies for the poor quality of this cell phone image, but in the picture below three young male lions are lying on the ridge beyond the waterhole (see arrow).
Now these lions were lying right in the open and quite obvious (the wide-angle camera shot is a bit misleading in this regard), yet the occupants of several vehicles never spotted them. They made the common mistake of driving down to the loop, staring at the water for a few seconds, and then driving off again. I'm happy to point out hard-to-see animals to others, but for those who are not willing to put in a minumum of effort it is just tough luck.
Here is some advice for those not familiar with Klopperfontein Drift:
- as you turn on to the loop, stop before you descend down the slope. Carefully study the rocky ridge on the northeastern side, preferably through binoculars. Lions like to lie amongst the rocks, from where they can keep an eye on drinking animals.
- down at the waterhole, the tangle of bush and rocks under the trees on the far side should be carefully scrutinized. The donga itself runs east and then turns north. It is rather deep in places, and those hollows that do not hold water are big enough to hide whole prides of lions. The tree-line (mainly Apple Leaf) on the rise along the southern bank also offers excellent concealment.
Klopperfontein Drift is one of these places where patience may well be rewarded, at times even in the heat of day, although early morning and late afternoon are best. I've seen lions leap out of a donga hollow right under the noses of an unsuspecting herd of buffalo, as well as come loping out of the tree line as soon as the thirsty buffalo have shoved their muzzles into the water.
Just because there is nothing going on at the waterhole, it doesn't mean that there is nothing to be seen. And even if there is nothing to be seen, it doesn't follow that there are no predators or other animals around.