Thursday, 7 July 2011

04th July – Flying Leopard!

Photo of the Day
Vyeboom Dam male and his prize impala kill...or maybe it was his sisters?

Morning Drive
(Chad, Godfrey and Colbert)
12 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 lionesses and 9 cubs with giraffe kill) – Kings, Generator Crossing
1 x leopard (Vyeboom Dam male with an impala kill) – Motswari, Ingwelala-Wedge boundary
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Hide Dam Northern Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Western Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd North
3 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Ingwelala-Wedge Boundary

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Godfrey, Colbert and Herald)
1 x leopard (Vyeboom Dam male with an impala kill) – Motswari, Ingwelala-Wedge boundary
1 x leopard (Shongile female at Vyeboom Dam male’s kill) – Motswari, Ingwelala-Wedge boundary
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Long Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Ingwelala-Wedge Boundary
2 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Bush Braai Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Ingwelala Crossing
5 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Airstrip
4 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Argyle Dam Link
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Camp

Daily Synopsis
This morning was the last morning drive for my guests that had been with me for ten nights to photograph leopards, and while we had seen many sightings of no fewer than nine different leopards, we still needed to find Kuhanya and/or Shongile!  I thus, just for a change, went to check the areas north of the camp...surely it had to produce a leopard sighting!!!

Sunsrise over Motswari

Sadly, for the twentieth drive in succession, I checked the area with no luck, and was heading towards where Kuhanya’s tracks had been yesterday when Johannes called me and asked if I wanted to see leopard!  As he had just left camp, I knew it was close, and sure enough, about halfway between Sharalumi Cottage and Motswari, Johannes had found a leopard no more than 100m from where I had driven earlier...maybe my bad luck is returning!
I quickly turned around and went over to where he was bypassing some elephant bulls along the way, and arrived to find the beautiful Vyeboom Dam male leopard up in a marula tree feeding on half of a fresh impala kill.  Our tenth leopard, and the first time I had seen this leopard in 5 months!

Vyeboom Dam Male leopard and his impala kill
We spent some good time watching him, just as the sun broke through the cloudy morning, but as he was walking about trying to move the kill, we feared he might try and move it, and as he was literally 10m from our boundary with Ingwelala, I didn’t want the other station responding to miss out.

Thinking he might move off with his kill
So after a few more minutes with this leopard, I made a space and carried on with my drive.

We found fresh track for Kuhanya and tried to follow up, but she went east into the thickest of blocks on De Luca and Petros had no luck.  After some coffee, I saw some nice zebra near Xinatsi Dam but not much else this morning.  The other guides received an invite by King’s Camp to go south to see the Machaton Pride of lions that had been found in the south with a fresh giraffe kill.

zebra herd
 With a new set of guests, I could just take it easy...and that I did!  I didn’t even leave the property and managed to see over a hundred elephants, two leopards, crocodile, buffalo, impala, porcupine and hyena in only 15km of driving!
The drive started off with a group of elephant bulls a few hundred metres from camp that were feeding on the mopanes.

Elephant bulls near the lodge
Leaving them I headed to the eastern side of Argyle Dam, and there I found a large breeding herd of elephants that I spent some time with, and in their midst were two buffalo bulls.

Elephant and buffalo bulls near Argyle Dam
From there I headed back to the northern side of the camp, seeing some impala, before I went to see Vyeboom Dam male leopard who was resting up in the marula tree that still housed his kill.  After about half an hour, he eventually jumped down and wandered off to the east, and thinking that he was going for a drink at Giraffe Pan, I was going to follow him.

Giraffe at Argyle Dam

Vyeboom Dam male still at his kill
Dave then came to have a quick look at the sighting, and soon asked me who the female leopard was.  I was about to correct him and tell him that it was a male when I saw where he was looking, followed his gaze and saw Shongile standing sniffing about at the bottom of the tree!  Brother and sister reunited?  Maybe not!  We had suspected that the male had lost half his kill to a hyena, but what possibly happened was that it was Shongile that lost her kill, and not to a hyena, but to her brother!

Shongile female arriving on the scene to eat her brother's kill - or maybe it was hers?

She followed the male leopard as he walked off, and then she circled around to make sure he was out the area before running up the tree and beginning to feed as quickly as she could before he returned.

A hyena soon arrived on the scene and milled about as Shongile fed.

Hyena waiting below where Shongile was feeding

We spent much of the afternoon there, but then left as it was getting dark to go for a drink.  Herald had a bit more patience, and soon Vyeboom Dam male returned but lay a short distance away.  After close to half an hour, and after seemingly disappearing, he suddenly appeared from the other side and ran up the tree, had a brief scuffle with the “thieving” Shongile and in the processes ended up knocking her out of the tree!  She fell a frighteningly long distance of 8-9m from the very top of the tree to the ground!  Fortunately being blessed with amazing agility she had managed to swing herself around to land on her feet and ran off in an instant, and thankfully didn’t appear any the worse for wear!
Some of Heralds guests captured this short video clip (, and if you watch carefully you shall see this amazing seen of a flying leopard!

I just bumbled a bit after drinks, as I was already practically at the lodge, and went to look for porcupines near old bush camp, and got lucky in finding a chameleon along the way, as well as a porcupine walking down the road!  But what was most pleasant to see were the elephants about!  I saw at least three different herds as well as a bunch of elephant bulls between the leopard sighting and the lodge; elephants everywhere!
I wish every plan worked out that simply!!!  So let’s see if tomorrow’s plans work out as well!
Be sure to check out the last three amazing blog posts in case you missed them!  An unbelievable day-time sighting of an aardvark (, the Machaton Pride feeding on a buffalo full of fantastic photos ( ), as well as the return of the Sohebele male lions ( ). 


  1. WOW Chad, some stunning shots of Vyeboom Dam Male leopard bud!!!
    And "just for a change" I will say thanks for the great updates :)


  2. Shongile, Shongile, you are a naughty girl !!!!!

    I did'nt have the pleasure to meet you, but maybe the next time ....

    Thank's Chad for sharing !
    Big hug !