Friday, 11 March 2011

11th March – Cheeky Kuhanya!

Photo of the Day 
Kuhanya at her warthog kill

Morning Drive
(Marka and Johannes)
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female with warthog kill) – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
1 x rhino (Nhlangula male)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Argyle, Mfene Crossing
1 x buffalo bull – Jaydee, Makulu Dam
2 x elephants – Motswari, Southern Access

Afternoon Drive
(Marka and Johannes)

1 x leopard (Kuhanya female with warthog kill) – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd
1 x leopard (Argyle Male) – Motswari, Camp Dam
4 x rhino (2x relaxed females and 2x relaxed males)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Scholtz, Kudu Pan
1 x buffalo bull – Vielmetter, Crossing Below Entrance Dam
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp

Daily Synopsis
With Kuhanya having a kill not 2 minutes from the lodge, I decided to wake up early and go and make the most of the photographic opportunities she would present, and went and joined Johannes after he located her sleeping in the grass nearby to where the kill was still safely housed in a knobthorn tree (very close to where she had a warthog kill last week).
Bearing in mind her reaction last night, I didn’t go too close, and besides, she wasn’t presenting many photographic opportunities lying in the long grass.  After Johannes said he saw two hyenas heading along the road towards the sighting, I gave her even more space to run up the nearby trees, should she need to make a quick getaway; but the hyenas never arrived, and as I was getting ready to go back to the lodge to start work, she awoke and walked right up to the front of my Land Rover. 
She was snarling and growling, and went and lay down 1m from my bonnet, still with her new attitude.  I left her, and decided not to move, as it was her choice to come and lie next to my vehicle, so I just sat it out.
It didn’t take long for her to get up, and walk past my door, still hissing and bearing her teeth at me as she walked past, less than 2m away!  She then went and hissed at the passenger-less back seats before deciding to again lie down next to the back wheel.

It was not 6:55am, and time for me to go to work, but I didn’t want to start the Land Rover with her so close.  I quickly changed my mind when Kuhanya changed hers, and jumped up and came running towards my door hissing at me!  I have never been afraid of a leopard in a vehicle until that moment!  After a few seconds of her not backing down, I decided I should move off, and started up and drove forward, she remained unmoved, before casually turning around and going to climb the tree where her warthog was to begin feeding!
It was a strange feeling; an adrenaline rush for sure, but also a bit puzzling as to why she reacted like that to me?  As I said yesterday, it’s great to see her react to the vehicles, but when it was her choice to come and lie next to my Land Rover before then deciding to mock charge it does make me wonder what was going through her cheeky little mind!!! 
I am pretty sure it’s just a phase she is going through, and it will soon pass – but it is a behavioural trait that I am very keen to see where it goes! 
But hey, she is still my favourite female leopard, even if she has got a new found attitude; maybe it’s the “teenager” in her coming out!

The afternoon was a chilled one for the two drives.  I popped out to look for a leopard that had upset the impalas at reception, but had no luck, so instead I popped down the road to see if it might have been Kuhanya that had left her kill to come for a drink, but it clearly wasn’t, as she was resting in the shade below the tree.  She was seemingly back to her usual self, and the only charging she did was at a hyena that wandered up to her!  She had consciously calculated her escape routes, but surprised me by actively making in effort to charge at the hyena to chase it off – something that wasn’t necessary considering the fact her kill was safely up a tree!  Still, hearing her growling and acting like that made me look at her in a whole new light; she is no longer a little girl, but has now turned into a real leopardess!
Johannes spent some nice time with a herd of buffalo at Kudu Pan, while Marka went south and managed to see four very relaxed rhinos which was a real bonus!
The highlight of the day for the guests, including two late guests that arrived late and missed the drive, would have to have been the dinner!  Not only was the food delicious, but Dave had decided to have dinner under the stars by setting up the table on the Deck overlooking the floodlit riverbed.  Halfway through the evening, a guest said, “oooh, look there!”, to which everyone turned around and saw Argyle Male leopard sauntering along the riverbed towards the camp dam.  He went into the reeds to have a drink, then came out and lay in the sand for a few minutes before getting up and slinking off into the darkness, and all of this not 50m from where the guests were eating dinner – what a treat!!!


  1. Hello Chad
    Excellent pictures of Kuhanya! She is so beautiful. Is she the only one who reacts like that or have other leopards done that before? I really can't wait to come back .... Thank's for the updates and the fotos. Looking forward to see what happens tomorrow.

  2. Hi Chad
    Do you think it's possible Kuhanya has been hostile because she's had a bad experience with a vehicle from another lodge recently?
    Although maybe it's just 'that time of the month' and you were the nearest man she could find to argue with!
    Great photos, as ever.

  3. Hi Karen and Gabi! hope you are both ell, and thanks for the comments!

    Gabi; no, no other leopards do that - rockfig used to when she had her cubs...kuhanya used to becheeky when she first became independent, but lately she has been very chilled - was actually talking about her with a guide from another lodge on wednesday...he said he also got charged by her last week when she had a kill on the airstrip...

    so karen, no, i dont think she has had a bad experience...she is not afraid of the vehicle, otherwise she wouldnt have come to lie down next to it. i think maybe now that she is establishing her own territory, and possibly starting to come into estrus, she is just being a bit protective, especially when she has a i said, i am sure it will pass, and probably just a phase she is going through; no need to worry - she is still an awesome leopard, and will provide us with great sightings for many years to come!

  4. GREAT photos as ever Chad.
    Thanks for the update.
    I agree with you that it should only be a phase that should pass. I have never seen this from a leopard. It did happen to me once with a male lion though.