Friday, 4 February 2011

3rd February – Back to its Best!

Photo of the Day
The beautiful Shongile

Morning Drive
(Marka and Elliot)
1 x leopard (Argyle Male with impala kill) – Argyle, Xinatsi Dam Rd West
3 x lions (Mahlathini males) – Argyle, Great North Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Argyle, Horizon Rd
3 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Pan Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Marka and Elliot)
1 x leopard (Argyle Male with impala kill) – Argyle, Xinatsi Dam Rd West
1 x leopard (Shongile female) – Motswari, Wedge River Rd
1 x leopard (Argyle Jnr female) – Motswari, Motswari Airstrip
5 x lions (Jacaranda Pride – 3 females and 2 males) – Motswari, Motswari Airstrip
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Peru, Sohebele Dam
2 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Sohebele Dam

Daily Synopsis
Okay, I don’t want to put a curse on the north, but it seems to be back to its best, at least if the afternoon drive was anything to go by!  
The morning required lions, and after all the tracks from yesterday, it wasn’t a surprise when some of the northern guides soon found fresh tracks for the Mahlathini males and tracked them down to where they were resting at Hyena Pan; so after viewing Argyle male who was still at his kill, Marka and Elliot headed over there. 
Even though I had the morning without guests and could sleep in, I headed out just after 5 hoping to get some nice shots of Argyle male in some golden light.  He was feeding when I arrived, but not in a photography-friendly pose!  After he had his share he moved into a better spot, but there were clouds and no sun!  Luckily the sun broke through for a few seconds and I got one shot that made the morning worth it!

Argyle Male - King of his world, and he knows it!
I did a ‘town-trip’ and got back and had just sat down to enjoy a beer with Dave and Thea when we got a call from Elliot telling us that there was a surprise on the airstrip for us!
So the three of us went out for a quick drive that ended up producing a sighting of 5 lions and 3 different leopards around camp!
Marka had gone onto Motswari wedge to follow up on tracks for the Jacaranda Pride (the original pride) that he had been told about by a worker at a nearby camp.  While looking for them, Marka found Shongile resting up in a beautiful Weeping-Boer Bean tree! 

In the mean time, another guide had found the five lions, 2 big males and 3 adult lionesses, resting on the airstrip, but sadly it was in amongst the grass, and they were all ‘flat cat’, only occasionally rolling over.  Not even a herd of about 10 giraffe and impala not 60m from them got them to rouse!  Later in the evening, between Giyani leaving them dead to the world, and Marka responding (after seeing elephant and buffalo at Sohebele Dam), they had moved off, and could not be relocated, despite our best efforts.

Giraffe and impala on the airstrip
While looking for them, I found Argyle Jnr female leopard sleeping up in a marula tree on the side of the airstrip, not 300m from where the lions had been sleeping!  I think I picked a good afternoon to not go for an afternoon jog on the airstrip like I had the day before!!!!
A bit earlier in the afternoon, another guide reported a young male leopard on the northern end of the airstrip, and Giyani got a glimpse of the leopard before it moved into thick bush near our staff village.  I was sitting in the grass photographing a herd of impala with the sunset in the background when they all started alarm calling, not at me, but at a leopard!  Despite being right there, I couldn’t find the leopard, but I suspect that it was not in fact a young male as first reported, but rather the large Argyle Jnr; but with all the leopards we have around camp at the moment, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was indeed Vyeboom Dam male!

the end of another tough day...with both me and a leopard stalking the same herd of impalas!
Oh yes, and lest we not forget, Argyle male leopard was still sitting up his tree with some of his impala kill left!  I am hoping that he doesn’t rush to finish it tonight, and that he hangs around for one more day, as I come back onto drive tomorrow, suddenly very eager to get back out there and see all these animals that have returned to the north!

Elliot's guests enjoying Argyle male!  He proceeded to climb down and go lie 3m from his Land Rover!
We shall have to wait and see if the form of the north follows last month’s “bachelor’s fridge” trend continues...what???  Yes, like the fridge of a bachelor, the beginning of the month starts off with anything and everything being found in it, but by the end of the month it appears empty and lacking in excitement...until the next payday that is!  I am hoping I’m wrong, and that the great viewing continues all month; if not, I have enjoyed being able to literally just pop out, while typing this blog, to go and see the male lion that was roaring not 100m from my house!  Got to love living in the bush!
Will catch up again tomorrow!


  1. WOW Chad,
    Great news, let's hope they stay for your drive.
    You had awesome light with the impalas, and the leopard shots are out of this world.

    Thanks for the updates

  2. Amazing photographs and incredible colors, Chad!
    Busy busy airstrip!

  3. What a great day! The photos are stunning. What camera was used.

    Keep the updates coming!


  4. thanks soooooo mcuh for looking and comments :)

    yeah, the sunset was amazing with those impalas, so was out my car photographing them when they spotted a leopard 50m away!

    Lile, it is crazy how busy the airstrip has been lately with all the leopards and lions on it...its wonderful to have all the animals around camp!

    thanks SM! i use canon 1DmkIIN and 1DmkIII bodies with 24-70, 70-200, 120-300 f/2.8 lenses, and a 500 f4 lens...if that makes sense :)