Friday, 10 July 2009

10th July – Argyle Leopards Big 5!

Argyle property in the north once again proved to be a leopard hotspot this morning, with three of the four leopards of the “Argyle Leap” being seen during our morning drive. The golden winter light slowly warmed us up, but the game was a bit slower to react as usual. We were all really keen for leopard this morning, and we pleased to hear when a neighbouring lodge called in “Argyle male leopard” near Buffalo pan, but unfortunately by the time we were directed to the sighting, the leopard had been lost moving in some very thick Mopane. Luckily it didn’t take us long to spot the leopard, the only ‘disappointment’ being that it was not Argyle male, instead it was his son, and one of Argyle Jnr’s young male cubs, which didn’t bode well with us having to move through thick bush after him. We viewed him from a distance for a while, but once he started moving again, we lost him. The Land Rover was put through its paces trying to navigate the difficult terrain, but we managed to get through, although the leopard was gone, but not to worry, as while driving through the bush, we found his mother, Argyle Jnr! She was in the process of stalking some impala which may have accounted for her continuous movement, which didn’t allow us to get too close (although Elliot reported that when he was watching her lying down in the open later in the morning, she was quite relaxed), so we kept our distance and watched as she moved towards the impala, but without much real intent. I gave Herald a chance to view her and made my way towards the area where the three Mahlathini male lions had been found. Elliot later joined Herald with Argyle Jnr leopard, and after she moved into some thick bush, Elliot was pulling out and found another leopard less than 80m away, this time it was Shongile female leopard, the daughter of Argyle Jnr! So three leopards in a short space, and who knows, maybe the leopard that our neighbouring guide first saw was indeed the large Argyle male!

After that I saw the Mahlathini males, but they were sadly living up to their name again and were resting in an area of thick Mopane. Upon trying to get closer, the got up and moved through some very thick bush, were lost, but Giyani managed to relocate, although the visual didn’t improve at all, and we left them for the morning. Herald saw a bull elephant, and there were a few giraffe and baboons about as well as our ever present hippos, but barring the cats, it was a bit quiet; not that we were complaining with all the felines wandering around!

The afternoon produced some good sightings too. Elliot had the three Mahlathini male lions in the same area as this morning, but at least this time they were in the open! The six lions of the Sohebele pride were also found this afternoon back up north near the southern end of Vyboom dam, looking as though they possibly had a small meal last night, but they were largely inactive. We admittedly didn’t hang around them too long as Nhlangula male rhino had been found south of Nkombi pan and was slowly feeding towards Klaserie. We headed straight down there and managed to get a nice but brief sighting of him before making space for the other Motswari vehicles that all got to see him before he eventually crossed the Timbavati access road into Klaserie. As with the last couple of sightings, this male rhino is becoming very relaxed and allows for great viewing when he is found.

After the rhino, my guests wanted some giraffe and zebra, and we were delighted to find both these species feeding together near the Nhlarulumi riverbed. There was also a nice herd of elephants with some entertaining youngsters. Other than that, there were sightings of another herd of elephant after dark near Entrance dam, seven buffalo bulls on Double Highway, three bull elephants up north, waterbuck, kudu and a good number of impala.

That brought to an end a relatively good day at Motswari, with all of the Big 5 being recorded!

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