Monday, 6 June 2011

05th June –So how was your weekend?

Photo of the Day
Kuhanya evading the hyenas
Daily Synopsis
Hello again!  Hope that you all had a great weekend are strong and ready for the week ahead!  Weekends don’t actually mean anything in the bush, but seeing as I wasn’t really working, I did enjoy it! 
Friday afternoon, after spending the day looking at a computer screen, saw me pop out with Leigh to go and see Kuhanya and her kill on the airstrip.  She was resting nearby, not fussed about much besides the pesky flies that were bothering her, but seemed to fat and sleep to care too much.

Resting semi-peacfully!
After some time of lying posing for us, a hyena came wandering past, and Kuhanya lay low, albeit right in the open.  It took the hyena some time to spot her, and I am not actually sure it did!  It walked only a few metres past her, but on the other side of the bush, sniffing madly.

Kuhanya and the hyena
Eventually it circled around the back, having now picked up the leopards scent-trail, and Kuhanya ra for some nearby bushes and lay low there.  The hyena then approached, and Kuhanya started growling in anger, before actually letting out a rather terrifying growl and charging at the hyena that seemed to almost not care and didn’t budge as Kuhanya shot past her and up a fallen mopane tree.

Kuhanya seeking refuge
The hyena carried on her own mission, and Kuhanya then seized this opportunity to go to the loo (behind a bush, what great manners!) and then she cautiously approached the marula tree housing her kill and jumped up and lay there, with the hyenas below her, and a setting sun in the west.  Not a bad way to end off the week?

Leopard Silhouettes, and hungry hyena's waiting for scraps
On Saturday, I had some guests from a neighbouring property join me for a morning walk and evening drive to celebrate Jula’s 50th birthday.  The walk was nice – crisp in the morning, but it warmed up nicely.  We didn’t see a great deal, but appreciated being out and seeing the things we miss by driving – alot of fresh leopard tracks for Kuhanya and Argyle Male, impalas alarm calling at one of them, the braking branches of an elephant bull (sadly just off our property), distant calls of hippo and crocodiles and the screams of elephants on all sides.
We found one breeding herd of elephants, but it was not a good area, and the herd was in the middle of a mopane thicket, so I wasn’t prepared to push our luck and go closer.
The afternoon drive didn’t hold much promise after the morning drives returned, well, at least not from the point of view of guaranteed cat sightings.  Still, that’s the beauty of the bush, and we went out not expecting much, and saw a great deal!
We started off looking for the elephants, but had no luck, so rather headed towards Klipdrift Crossing where Grant had his own herd feeding towards the water.  We had a very good birder with us, so stopped for a few birds, including a flock of White-crowned Shrikes acting oddly near a dark coloured bird.  I glimpsed it quickly and convinced myself that it was a Burchell’s Starling...oops!  Maybe I should have looked closer, as it turned out to be a rather rare melanistic form of the Gabar Goshawk!  It was only the second time I have seen this form (the bird is black as opposed to the usual light grey colour).
Anyway, after some nice impalas, kudus and a buffalo bull, we arrived at the herd of elephants as they were making their way down to drink at the Nhlaralumi Riverbed, with a pod of hippos in the water 30m away.

Elephants and hippos at Klipdrift Crossing
It was a great sighting to have them so relaxed and in such close proximity to the vehicle, but we also had to leave the area to go and see the herd of rhinos that Giyani had found.  We were the last ones in the sighting and despite the fading light, had a nice sighting of them, with even the females stopping to graze nearby us as opposed to just walking off.
We had no sooner left them when a leopard was radioed in on the main road very close to where we were – I tried my luck to find her, Voel Dam Female, but she had disappeared into the mopanes, only to hear that a few minutes after I had left, she was back on the road!
We had drinks in the dark and had a hyena and two elephant bulls come wandering past us to drink at Voel Dam. 
Heading back to camp, Grant mentioned that he had found a kudu in a tree at Argyle Dam, convinced it was from Argyle Male or his son, Gijima Male, but with no visual of any leopard, he left.  I was going to check around Concrete Crossing for two reasons – one, it was the shortest route home, and two, Grant suspected that Mbali leopardess was in the area after seeing her tracks earlier. 
We saw a couple of genets and some bushbabies as we headed to concrete crossing, and could hear hyenas cackling, but ignored it...until as we went into concrete crossing, we spotted a female leopard sitting just off the road!

Argyle Jnr - very relaxed with the attention, and outside her normal territorial core, which is great to see!
Having Mbali on my mind, and seeing where she was, and how relaxed this leopard was, I immediately identified it as her.  While watching her, the crunching bones just to our left told the story – she had lost her kill to hyenas!
I kept looking at this leopard and asked Petros if he didn’t think it was perhaps Khlakisa female, and was he sure it was Mbali, he said “look how relaxed she is”.  But it still bugged me.  Not that I cared too much, it was a really nice sighting, then we went and watched the hyenas eating and fighting over the kill!  Very cool indeed!

Hyenas eating Argyle Jnr's impala kill - a realy pity for the leoard and for us!
It was getting late, so we left them and carried on, seeing a white faced owl, a hippo mother and calf out the water on Piva Plains, some more elephants and then to the kudu sleeping in the tree, but still no leopard.  While that would have been the cherry on top, we returned to camp all very happy with the afternoon, and I was once again very happy that I was out on drive and not stuck in my room!
Sunday started off with Grant finding Argyle Male at the kudu kill, and my intentions had been to go see him, but decided instead to spend the evening with Dave, Thea and Leigh back at the lodge playing petanque and poker!   Although, I couldn’t resist going to try find the leopard in front of the lodge that was causing the monkeys and impalas to go mad!  Sadly we couldn’t find her, although from the tracks it looked like it was Shongile, and based on the fact that there was a leopard calling in the middle of camp last night, I am sure it was her, and the battle for “middle earth” continues between Kuhanya and Shongile, each wanting their piece of our lodge!  What a wonderful situation to be in; being right in the overlapping territorial area of two beautiful young female leopards! 
So that was my weekend; I think I am back on drive later, so will get back to blogging very soon!  Enjoy the week!



  1. Great! Wanda

  2. Very nice spots..
    I hope to return very quickly to South Africa.

  3. Ai Chad, you're weekend was better than mine :-)
    Great shots Chad, love the ones with the sun setting and Kuhanya in the tree.


  4. What a wonderful weekend you have had Chad. These leopard pics are so beautiful. Unbelievable!!!