Sunday, 3 May 2009

01st & 2nd May – Struggle for Leopard Ends Well!

The last two days have been a bit of a struggle for leopard, but luckily it all ended well last night with a great sighting of Mangadjane male leopard.

Friday morning started off rather quietly, Herald found those three young nomadic lions, but they were in the Nhlarulumi riverbed which made following them difficult, and they were left heading north in the general direction of where the Sohebele male was found sleeping in amongst some sedge. He was extremely inactive again, and didn’t move all day, in the afternoon he was relocated 5m from his morning position.

Although there were tracks for Mbali and Kuhanya on Friday morning, they proved frustratingly difficult to track and were not found at all. General game was alright, with giraffe, elephant, waterbuck and hippo being seen.
Friday afternoon was also difficult, only Giyani got to see Nkateko female leopard hanging around her favourite spot; Vielmetter Camp! She too was frustatingly difficult to follow as she walked along the riverbank, only allowing the occasional visual before she was totally lost and nobody managed to relocate her. General game viewing included some giraffe drinking at Hide Dam, some elephant bulls near our soccer field, hippos at Makulu dam, hyena, genet and some good bird-life.

Saturday was a slightly better day. Andrew found the three young nomadic lions once again – they really seem to be making themselves at home! They spent most of the day sleeping in a thick drainage line near Mbali dam. A number of elephant bulls were seen destructively feeding on the bushwillows that are rapidly changing into their autumn colours! A lone buffalo bull was also seen, and we once more struggled to track Mbali around Francolin pan. Our bushwalk saw us encounter three large elephant bulls not 300m from camp.

The afternoon was following the same ‘leopard-free pattern’ and following up on this mornings tracks for Mbali was a fruitless exercise. The three young lions were in the same spot, a lot of impala were out and about, but it was rather quiet!

We then heard that Mangadjane male leopard had been found quite far south of Double Highway with a large impala kill stashed up a marula tree. The sighting was a busy one due to a quiet few days on the leopard front, so I bided my time up north before heading down to the leopard that had been fast-asleep all afternoon!

The trick with Mangadjane is to go and see him after dark, that seems to be his peak time to feed – and that is exactly what we were treated to; the awesome sight of this large male leopard feeding on a fully grown impala that he had stored in the safety of a large tree. The sounds of his powerful jaws crunching through the bones of the impala was something special, and it soon drew the attention of two hyenas that came sauntering in, but luckily the kill was well out of their reach, and Mangadjane carried on feeding as if they weren’t even there! While we were making the long trip home, Johannes radioed in that he had found a young female leopard a few hundred meters from Motswari!!! He left her stalking after a nearby herd of impalas.

Hopefully the leopards will be a bit more forthcoming over the next few days!

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