Thursday, 7 May 2009

07th May – Superb Leopard Sightings

Following a personally quiet afternoon yesterday, I was keen to make up for it this morning, and was well rewarded!

I headed straight over to check on Argyle male, and although he had not taken his impala kill up a tree, he had succeeded in not loosing it to the hyenas! I spent some good time watching him, he covered up some of the remnants of the kill with sand, and continued his growling at the vehicle, but less vehemently than yesterday. While watching him, a warthog wandered up to the impala carcass, seemingly unaware that the male leopard responsible for its demise was lying not 10m away! For some reason, Argyle male was uninterested in the warthog and did not even make an attempt to stalk it!

From there, we drove towards our common boundary with the Kruger National Park, and saw four different groups of zebra – not bad considering we, on average, have more leopard sightings than zebra sightings! At Karans Big Dam we watched a great tussle between two impala rams fighting for territory, and while the dominant male was preoccupied with the fight, a group of bachelors ran around chasing his females and trying to mate with them – I also got to see impalas mate; my first ever witnessing of such an event!

Herald had located Kuhanya female leopard, and I thought that she would be nice to see on a now-cloudy morning. As I turned onto the road she was on, there was a leopard in front of me...but no Herald! Weird. Well it was until I saw which leopard it was; it was Mbali female! I was now blasé about leopards, and literally let her walk past us before driving a couple of hundred meters further to the next leopard sighting!

Kuhanya was probably following her moms scent trail, and was not far off, but got distracted by a group of male impalas and some waterbuck. She watched intently, taking up a stalking position, but the alarm calls from the waterbuck alerted the impala to her presence, and she soon gave up, before disdainfully walking towards the waterbuck who held their ground, but later scattered! I left her with Johannes, who spent the next half hour watching her humorously trying to catch a squirrel that kept running up and down a small tree!

Down south, many of the Motswari guides had responded to a sighting of Nhlangula male rhino, not too far from Sweetwater Pan. He gave them a bit of a run around, but was eventually relocated and most of the guides got to see him. Godfrey also found a few buffalo bulls, and other general game was not too bad – although for me, the leopards ruled the morning!

The afternoon saw the return of the large herd of buffalo to our property, and they were found near Hide Dam in the south. There was no luck relocating on either Mbali, Kuhanya, or those three nomadic lions that had been around in the morning. Godfrey managed to find a nice group of giraffe; a species that had been avoiding him the last few days! He also commented on the good number of hyenas he had see this afternoon – the Rockfig clan at Hide dam, some hyenas while watching the buffalo and the giraffe, and then another as he was returning to camp!

I just went on a short drive, and spent some quality time watching Argyle male feeding on his impala kill, before he moved off a short way to start grooming. Then after dark we didn’t have much luck, bar the sighting of a lone elephant at Argyle Dam.

There were also separate reports of Rockfig female and Mangadjane male leopards down south on Vielmetter property, but none of our guides responded there. Johannes had also tracked Argyle Jnr female and her cubs this morning, in the vicinity of Argyle Dam. He had suspected that she was taking them back to a kill, but unfortunately the hyenas had already stolen the meal and neither she nor the cubs could be located.
Still, without those sightings, we had a rather special day of leopard sightings – and long may it continue!

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