Tuesday, 13 October 2009

11th & 12th October – Great Sightings of Rockfig Jnr Female & Argyle Male Leopards!

Sunday and Monday saw us have some quality sightings of two of our less regularly seen leopards, as well as a good number of rhinos – Andrew saw five different rhinos on Sunday!

Sunday morning was a pretty good one and both Palence and Andrew got to tick off the Big 5. As my guests’ only wanted leopard, that’s what they got! The morning started off with Herald finding the relaxed Mtenga-tenaga male rhino wandering towards our eastern boundary, just north-east of Hide dam. He moved steadily in that direction and crossed into the adjoining property after a couple of the guides got to see him.

Around the same time, one of the southern stations found the four Sohebele sub adult lions resting just north of Entrance dam, and they spent the entire morning enjoying the relative coolness of the day. They were sadly not looking in a good condition and had clearly not eaten for several days; the good news however was that the lone male that had been wandering around up north had managed to find the rest of the group. The only pride member missing now is the adult lioness, and we have not seen her for almost a week now.

As the one guide was leaving the lions, he spotted a leopard not 100m away, and it turned out to be Rockfig Jnr female leopard – once again utilizing the northern extent of her territory which is really pleasing for us, as we are seeing this beauty far more regularly now than we have ever before. I arrived to find her wandering towards Eagle-owl Plains, and after posing nicely for the camera, she spotted a steenbok and then spent about 15 minutes stalking the diminutive antelope before unsuccessfully charging in and missing the kill.
Late in the morning, Palence found another two white rhinos together in the north; it was a female and sub adult, and they were semi-relaxed and were followed for a while before they wandered into a Mopane thicket. The large breeding herd of buffalo were also found in the south after having been for a drink at elephant dam, and I had seen three buffalo bulls near the camp in the morning. The elephants were represented by sightings of a couple of bull elephants as well as a small breeding of elephant in the north.

In the afternoon, the four Sohebele lions had moved further north and were found near Leopard Rock Hide, resting on the shady banks of the Nhlarulumi riverbed, but yet again their lack of energy meant that they were largely inactive.

Andrew found another two white rhino’s early in the afternoon just south of Karan’s camp, so it is doubtful that they were the same as the two seen in the morning. There were also sightings of two different groups of buffalo bulls as well as two lone bull elephants and a large breeding herd of elephant east of Makulu dam.

I had a reasonably quiet afternoon, but did see some nice hippos, some fair general game, and an African wild cat on the way home.

Monday morning was a bit quiet, but I really enjoyed it because we got to see one of my favourite leopards; the dominant Argyle male leopard! My tracker had found some tracks for him south of Argyle dam, and he soon spotted a drag mark in the sand; a clear indication of a predator dragging a kill. We followed up and found where the leopard had eaten a small duiker, but had finished everything and then his tracks carried on south. Petros was following the tracks along the Sohebele riverbed, so I jumped ahead and spotted the leopard in the distance as he rested on top of Sohebele dam wall! We weren’t sure which leopard it was so approached slowly and when we arrived the leopard was gone. We thought that it was a skittish male until Petros spotted him heading to the west in a small drainage line, and when we got closer we realized that it was the Argyle male! He went and lay on top of a small rocky outcrop, but soon got up and carried on in a westerly direction following one of the drainage lines which did make keeping up with him a bit tricky. He crossed the road right in front of us at one point, and wandered within 5m of the vehicle; something that six-months ago would have been totally out of character for this leopard! It is truly amazing for me to see how much he has relaxed over the last few months. All of our guests got to see this leopard before he went to rest for the day near Francolin pan.
My focus was again on leopards, and I went and spent some quality time with the Argyle male leopard once again after he was relocated west of Francolin pan. He was static for the first while, but soon got up and moved off towards Concrete crossing, scent marking as he went. In the riverbed he rolled about in the sand in typical cat fashion before heading south along the riverbed towards the crossing. We went and parked on the bridge and watched as he walked straight to the water near where we had parked and arrived to quench his thirst after another hot day. As he lay near the water, a herd of elephant passed on the eastern bank, and after a few minutes the male leopard moved up to the bank and lay down again. He was totally unphased by our presence as we pulled up next to him – almost on par with our other leopards! While he was sleeping, a bushbuck appeared from nowhere and spotted the leopard and gave off a loud bark to alert all nearby animals of the leopard’s presence! Argyle male hadn’t seen the bushbuck until it barked, but when he did see it he jumped up and momentarily started stalking after it! However, he was too late and the antelope had fled. He then walked back down to the bridge of Concrete crossing and had another drink before heading south towards Peru dam, and that is where we left him!
Andrew saw a breeding herd of elephants down south as well as some hyenas, and I got to see a nocturnal porcupine briefly as it scuttled about near the old Bush Camp.

And that was another two days of good leopard viewing for my guests, although it was a bit quiet for the lions; so let us see what the next few days bring!


  1. Wonderful pictures. Thank you for a marvelous time in Motswari game reserve. See my youtube-movie
    Regards from Ingela Nilsson, Sweden

  2. thanks so much ingela! glad you enjoyed it, and i will go and check out the video!