Saturday, 26 March 2011

25th March – My New Favourite Leopard

Photo of the Day
The captivating Thumbela female!

Morning Drive
(Chad, Marka and Johannes)
3 x lions (Mahlathini males) – Scholtz, Big Dam Wallow
1 x leopard (Thumbela female) – Vielmetter, Entrance Dam
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Reception
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Argyle, Vyeboom Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Peru, Western Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp
2 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Voel Dam

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Marka, Johannes and Elliot)
3 x lions (Mahlathini males) – Scholtz, Big Dam
2 x leopards (Rockfig Jnr and Thumbela females) – Vielmetter, Crossing Below Entrance Dam
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Wisani Crossing
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Trade Entrance Pan
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Scholtz, Kudu Pan
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Trade Entrance Pan

Daily Synopsis
The ‘disappointments’ of yesterday (from a cat front anyway) were short lived, and today proved to be a pretty good day for game viewing at Motswari; not only with the return of some lions, but also some great leopard viewing!

That being said, I did have a bit of a quiet morning personally, and failed to find any of the spotted cats that I was so desperate for.  Marka and Johannes did fair a great deal better; Marka tracked and found Thumbela female leopard sleeping at her new favourite spot, Entrance Dam, and Johannes went to check if there was any sign of the Mahlathini male lions returning.  He too soon found tracks and didn’t take long to track them down, resting near a mud wallow close to Scholtz Big Dam.

African Hawk Eagle
My morning’s highlight was a small breeding herd of elephants that arrived to drink at Vyeboom Dam, and in the beautiful morning light, provided my guests with some very good photographic opportunities.

Elephant herd at Vyeboom Dam (except the one with the hat, that is Petros =P)
Other than that, I had sightings of waterbuck, hippos in and outside of the water, a couple of buffalo bulls, impala, giraffe, bushbuck and a nice crocodile basking in the sun.

Young Nile Crocodile at Buffalo Pan

Buffalo bulls at Voel Dam
There were tracks for a leopard going from our airstrip past Argyle Dam, and while we had half hoped that it was Kuhanya leopardess, but it turns out it was not (most likely Argyle Jnr female); this we knew because we found Kuhanya coming to have a drink at the birdbath at reception in the middle of the day.  The reason for this was that Grant and Johannes located a drag-mark and followed it to the site where she had killed a small antelope; something for the afternoon we thought?
Well, it would have been had she not chosen the most inaccessible area – the bush was just so thick that we didn’t even bother trying to locate her in it.  We just hope that she takes whatever it is that she killed up a tree before the hyenas get it!
Despite that disappointment, we actually had a very good afternoon, thanks primarily to a trip down south to where Thumbela leopardess had been found, then lost, and then in trying to relocate, the guide found Rockfig Jnr sleeping full-bellied in the Machaton Riverbed north of Entrance Dam.  I made my way there, and arrived to find Rockfig Jnr still sleeping under a bush and not offering any chance of good photos.

Rockfig Jnr sleeping near her kill
Just as my patience was about to falter and I was getting ready to leave the sighting to go and look for Thumbela, Rockfig Jnr looked up and out of the thicket came Thumbela!  She lay down in the riverbed not far from us and began to groom!  The cameras in the land rover went crazy, and looking at these photos, I am sure you can see why!  She is quickly becoming my new favourite leopard!

Thumbela cleaning up for the cameras!
After some time we made way for the other game drive vehicles to come and view her, and I then made my way eastwards towards where Johannes had re-tracked the Mahlathini male lions to Scholtz Big Dam. En route, we also found a breeding herd of buffalo at Hide Dam, with a dramatic sky in the background.

Petros and a buffalo herd at Hide Dam

The Magnificent Mahlathini Male Lions!
They looked fat and sleepy, but after spending some time with them, and again as we were ready to leave, they awoke and started interacting and grooming before moving down towards the water’s edge where we left them with Marka.
Besides those good sightings, we also saw an African Wild Cat drinking at Kudu Pan; the same place that Elliot had earlier seen a herd of elephants drinking.
Back at camp, we finished off the drive with a sighting of a buffalo bull and an elephant bull at Trade Entrance Dam!


  1. What an amazing day!! Loved every pic. Goodness me those iceblue eyes of the leopard are cold and calculating. The "black" elephant in the herd made me wonder about it's parent's morals.


  2. Again what a super day. Wanda is right those iceblue eyes. Fantastic

  3. Oh wow - what fantastic photos! Love the leopards and the elephants.

    Looking forward to returning in September already!!

    Sue UK

  4. Great to hear that my favorite leopard is now your favorite too. That should mean more photos of this true beauty for us to see! :)
    She is lovely... and she likes do pose!

  5. Wow! Stunning photos again! Have I seen Thumbela? I can't remember. She is definitely a BEAUTY! And she is going to be my favorite too. Those blue eyes, love it! Love also the little Elephant drinking. And all the other photos of course. You have such great days out in the bush. Thanks for sharing with us.
    Greetings to everybody from Switzerand

  6. one of my favourites too
    On another note Chad - which lens do you use most of the time on your drives?

  7. thanks for all of the kind words!

    Gabi; i dont think you saw her last time you were here, and she was born just after you visited in 2009...she is Rockfig Jnr's cub...and yip, a real beauty!

    @janet - thanks for the comments....i use most a 500mm lens for the portrait stuff, and then a 70-200 for the full body shots of the animals, as well as for the elephants...

  8. I visit a number of lodge/ranger sites and I fully understand why every guide thinks they're photographers notwithstanding the fact that they're in the best places in the world!, but keep coming back because I rate your pics best Chad - kudos!
    Now if you ever find a pangolin . . . . don't put a pic up as I'll have to go and throw myself off the top of Sandton City (and their new building is going to be twice as high!!)

  9. Stunning pictures Chad. Love Thumbela as well with that beautiful eyes!!!

    Lovely photos of the elephants drinking as well.


  10. Lee-ann Pitcher29 March 2011 at 04:33

    Petros is just sooo photogenic!!

    GREAT photos Chad! I'm jealous.

    Always such a pleasure to see the blog each day.

    Really miss Africa and you guys.

  11. @ janet - thank you so much - always brings a smile to my face to read such wonderful comments about the blog - as i have said before, comments like that make it worth all the effort we put in to it!

    @ lourens - yip, was a good day for photos - hope my photographer guests got some even better ones!

    @ lee-ann; howdy! so great to hear from you again! hope all is well down under and that you and peter are not working too hard (unless of course it is on your house - hope that is coming along nicely!!!)

    i will pass those words on to Petros - gotta get some of these shots printed for him :)

    thanks for following the blog, and hope its motivation enough for you t be plannning your next trip here!

    take car and send my best wishes to peter as soon :)