Wednesday, 9 February 2011

8th February – Hide and Seek!

Photo of the Day
Thumbela; living up to her name at Hide Dam (gotta love those eyes!!!)
Morning Drive
1 x leopard (Thumbela female) – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam Link
1 x elephant bull – Kings, Little Ridg

Afternoon Drive
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam
2 x buffalo bulls – Jaydee, Tamboti Pan
1 x elephant bull – Kings, Leisha’s Link
1 x elephant bull – Kings, Hyena Rd

Daily Synopsis
Seeing as the north had been a bit quiet yesterday, I decided to head to the south, not only for a change of scenery, but also hoping for a change of fortune!
I started out by checking a bit of the eastern sections for any lions or buffalo, but came up without much to speak of on the mammal front besides the usual impala and a few nice birds like a Martial Eagle and a family of Southern Ground Hornbills (we actually saw 2 groups today – and I realised how fortunate we are when I read yesterday, on a lodge’s sightings report from a reserve further south, that they had a big section of their monthly report dedicated to their first sighting of the endangered ground hornbills in many, many years!).
Arriving in the south I once again filled with hope of finding something, but there seemed to be little about, until I approached Hide Dam and we spotted something a bit strange sleeping on the steps of the hide; it was Thumbela female leopard!  Her name actually means ‘hide’ after her habit of going to sleep in the hide, but this was my first time to actually witness this for myself!

Thumbela - our blue-eyed gal up in the hide at Hide Dam!
We spent about 30 or 40 minutes watching her as she climbed up and down the stairs, stalked birds at the waterhole, and eventually returning to the steps of the hide before going inside and lying down to rest. 

Thinking that was it for the sighting, I carried on to look for some buffalo, only to hear that minutrs later she climbed down the stairs and went and caught a Grey Go-away bird!
Despite feeling a bit bleak on missing that, we went and relocated a small breeding herd of buffalo south of elephant dam, and enjoyed some time watching them with the small, 2 day old babies amongst them.

Breeding herd of buffalo with some very young calves
Following that I went to see a large elephant bull eating some marula fruit nearby, but while watching him, I was informed of two white rhinos that had been found near the buffalo.  I pulled in to join the station that was with them, and he told me they were static near a big marula, but they weren’t.  They had moved, and the ranger had for some unknown reason failed to follow them!  We tried relocating but had no luck, and it was getting late, so we had to return to the north. 

Elephant bull feeding on the ripening marulas
In the afternoon, I decided to take it easy, and slowly follow the Nhlaralumi River down to the south.  I started by checking the north for any sign of the leopard that was seen in the staff village in the morning, but had no luck. 
There was some general game about; giraffe, waterbuck, hippo, warthogs, steenbok, nyala, bushbuck and some buffalo bulls sleeping in a waterhole near Makulu Dam.  We also had an enjoyable sighting of some baboons, with the best part being when a large, dominant male climbed up a tree that sent the other baboons running...and flying off the tree!

Baboons on Argyle Dam wall
Nyala bull in camp
The herd of buffalo from the morning arrived to drink at Elephant Dam in the golden evening light, and provided for a good sighting with the babies and old bulls stealing the show.

Buffalo herd at Elephant Dam
After that I tried to pick up tracks for the rhinos, but had no luck there either; instead we found a lone elephant bull, again eating on marula fruits.  There was a nice herd of giraffe, and then we stopped for a great sundowner drink with a large elephant bull feeding on the grass nearby!

Sundowners with a friend!
Heading back to the north – which I have to add , is looking so much greener than the south; I haven’t been south much, but I really noticed the difference today! – we saw two sightings of lesser bushbabies, an African Wild Cat and two separate hyenas.

So it was a better day than yesterday, but we are still missing our lions!  Some encouraging news was that the Xakubasa Pride (white lions) were seen for the first time in a long time, and on a property just a few kilometres north-west of our boundary; we are hoping that this means that they are coming home!
There are no guests in camp tomorrow night, but we will post an update of the morning drive at some point, and return to full reporting the next day!


  1. Wow - what can I say? Your photos are simply stunning, leopards are my all time favourite big cat so seeing those gorgeous photos of Thumbela were just magical for me.

    I love the flying baboon - a brilliant capture.

    What camera and lens were you using?

    Looking forward to your next update.


  2. WOW, stunning images once again Chad. The quility of your images is amazing.

    Love the eyes of the leopard, she is a beaut!
    Had a nice laugh at the baboons jumping, and those buf shots are great, especially the light in some of them.

    I hope the white Lions make an apprearance again soon.


  3. Well Chad you have done it again, fabulous photos and brilliant update!

    Is their a male in the area for Thumbela? Cubs?

    I love meeting new characters and following them. Thumbela is one to keep and eye on she is beautiful!

    Thanks Chad


  4. thanks again for the comments:)

    @laikipia...thank you so much! i use a canon 1DmkIII with a canon 500 f4 lens, as well as a canon 1DmkIIN with a sigma 120-300f2.8 lens - its all the camera's work, not mine :)

    @lourens - i was great to see some golden light again i must say!

    @SM - i am sorry that i havent got around to adding Thumbela's profile yet, but will get there soon! she is still a dependent cub, only 14 months old, so will be with mom for a few more months...there is one male in the south, but i dont actually suspect he is her father...since Mangadjane male was killed in 2009, no dominant males have set themselves up, an we dont know who thumbela's father is...

    will add more profiles in time :)

    thanks again!

  5. Thumbela looks really at home at home at the hide. She really is a stunner with those eyes, and I loved the Photos of the Buffs wallowing you can tell thet are really enjoying it. I had to laugh at the one rolloing over on its back. Thanks for the photos, and updates Chad

  6. Thanks for the info Chad - it's most certainly your skill not the camera!

    Going to look up those lenses later - I'm a Canon person myself.

  7. Hi

    Lovely pictures of Thumbela. It is great to see that she is still favouring the hide. I have a lovely picture of her lying on the 'window ledge' of the hide taken last September.

    Great photos as usual

    Sue UK

  8. Oh yes - Thumbela :-) She looks like she is inviting oneself for snuggling with her or just joining her killing the time together.. Well, at the end - or more at the beginning - not the time but oneself would have get killed by her, unfortunately!
    But also the buffalo babies look cute although I know they are everything - but not cute... Funny the buffalo with all legs up!
    Great pictures again Chad. Thanks for keep us informed how things are going on in the bush!

  9. lovely photos of Thumbela .. she is beautiful !! you always manage to produce the most amazing photos.

  10. Thumbela is so gorgeous... no wonder why she my favorite! :)