Friday, 22 April 2011

22nd April – The Most Beautiful Leopard!

Photo of the Day
Our newest stunning leopard
Morning Drive
(Godfrey and Herald)
3 x leopards (Unnamed female and 2 x 7-month old cubs with Kudu Kill) – Peru, Hippo Rocky Road
1 x rhino (Nhlangula male)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Buffalo Pan Access
2 x elephant bulls – Peru, Woza-Woza Cutline

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Godfrey, Andre and Herald)
3 x leopards (Unnamed female and 2 x 7-month old cubs with Kudu Kill) – Peru, Hippo Rocky Road
1 x leopard (Nthombi’s male cub) – Vielmetter, Nkhoro Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Hide Dam Northern Access
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Camp
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Sohebele River Rd
9 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Airstrip
8 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Argyle Dam
2 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Peru Entrance Rd

Daily Synopsis
Despite being a public holiday, the animals were not taking a break today, and we had a Good Friday in more ways than one!
The start of the long weekend, and things really picked up at the lodge, and we were almost full camp today!  The morning saw Herald and Godfrey out alone, and in desperate need of leopard and rhino...I wish the animals wouldn’t leave things until the last minute!!!  Luckily the North provided for both of these species, as well as some elephants to round off a nice morning.
Nhlangula male rhino reappeared for the first time in a long time and allowed almost all of the game drives to view him as he slowly fed towards our western boundary. 
In the mean time, our very own Leopard Man lived up to his name, and Johannes found not one, but three leopards with a kudu kill up a mopane tree!  The leopards were two cubs of about 7-months old, as well as their mother, a nervous female.  Johannes commented that the cubs were not all that nervous and came relatively close to his vehicle (maybe 15m).  He decided to not pressure them and make it a ‘one-vehicle’ sighting, and hopefully this will allow us to build up confidence in the cubs over time.  The female was also nervous, and we are not even sure who she is or where she comes from, but have known about her for a while.  Despite this, the guides got to see her as well as a host of other animals this morning.
I joined the afternoon drive, although I did head out about an hour late in some more decidedly miserable weather, but it didn’t stop us from having a great drive! 
Elephants seemed to be the order of the day at the start of the drive, with two different herds of elephant bulls being found near the lodge; one on the airstrip and the other at Argyle Dam.

Elephant bulls on the airstrip
Heading towards Argyle Dam, we found a small breeding herd of elephants with a few young feeding on the banks of the Sohebele River, and at Argyle Dam, there were still several elephants scattered around, as well as a nice troop of baboons on the dam wall.  Besides that, we saw two relaxed bushbucks, impala, kudus, waterbuck, hippos and crocodiles. 

Baboons and elephants at Argyle Dam
Andre went south with his guests and while things were a bit quiet on the way down, he did have some luck in finding a leopard – Nthombi’s young boy – sleeping up in a leadwood tree near Elephant Dam.  He also got to see a large breeding herd of buffalo near Sweetwater Pan.
Herald followed up on the leopards and found the two cubs sleeping about 50m from the kill, and from all accounts they were very chilled and he could get a lot closer than this morning!  After dark the mother returned and went to feed on the kill, so I decided to respond, but didn’t expect much...
Well, let’s just say that I was far more amazed than my guests were!  It was unbelievable to have been able to drive up to the leopard as she was feeding in the tree, and stop no more than 15m from her without her paying the least bit of attention to us, as if she had grown up with vehicles!

Beautiful female leopard with a kudu kill
I even repositioned to get a view as she fed on the female kudu, and she didn’t respond to our presence at all – it was just amazing to see!  What was even more amazing for me was just how beautiful she was!  Move over Kuhanya, you have some still competition!!!  The mother is likely a first time mother, and still looks young (probably 4-5 years old), but is a very large female. 

We eventually left her and headed back to the lodge, and I was just filled with excitement and the prospect of building up these leopard’s confidence with the vehicles and the possibility of some wonderful future sightings of this leap of leopards! 
Hopefully tomorrow I will get a chance to see the cubs...once again, this is why I love the Timbavati so much!!!

Enjoy the long weekend folks J


  1. The strength and courage these leopards have to get a dead-weight kill up into a tree is astounding!!! Beautiful leopard/s indeed.

  2. Great photos of my two favourite animals, the leopard and the elephant.
    Happy Easter to all at Mots and see you all in September

    Sue UK