Sunday, 28 August 2011

27th August – Leopard At Last!!!

Photo of the Day
Mbali - has she dropped her cubs?

Morning Drive
(Chad and Herold)
1 x leopard (Mbali female) – Java, Back of Java
2 x rhino (2 relaxed female white rhinos)
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Back of Java
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Giraffe Kill Lookout

Afternoon Drive
No Big 5 Sightings

Daily Synopsis
So, my last drive with my guests, and my last drive for the cycle...could I redeem myself and find a leopard for my guests...surely, I could not go 8 drives with no leopard!
For the umpteenth time, I headed to the wedge, hoping that one of our leopards would be lying up in a tree as the glorious morning light bathed the autumn-tinged bush in an array of colours that was only amplified by the gather dark clouds in the west.  Sadly, as the morning went on, the clouds won over and it turned out to be a blustery and cloudy morning, and loads cooler than yesterday’s 33 degrees!
There were impala, steenbuck, duikers and kudus around, but no leopards.  We saw some hippos and waterbuck at Sohebele Dam, but no leopards.

Impala, kudu and waterbuck
Hearing that a mating pair of leopards was seen near Illegal Crossing, and despite having run-off into the reeds of the Nhlaralumi, I still took a chance.
On the way, there was a nice breeding herd of elephants in the riverbed that went to drink below Giraffe Kill Lookout, and we ended up having our coffee watching as the herd dug and drank from the riverbed, while the young bull elephant played about with one another.

Elephant herd in the Nhlaralumi
Two of my guests, Denise and Geoff, had to leave early and Patrick came to pick them up.  I was most disappointed as they were a lovely couple, and I really wanted to show them leopard, but for the second time in the last few days, I had guests leaving without seeing leopard – and that never makes me happy.
It was thus with a cruel irony that shortly after coffee stop the radio crackled with Herold’s voice to notify us that he had found a leopard on Western Cutline, near Java Access.  I spun the Land Rover around and headed straight in his direction!
It was Mbali, and she had climbed down the tree and was now walking west, but I joined Herold to see this old gal as she strutted her stuff.  So while Geoff and Denise had missed out, at least my other guests got to see her...well, two of them had to join Herold as he headed back to camp, as the poor weather meant that their flight from the lodge would not be taking off, so they needed a road transfer to the airport.  That left me with just two guests, and we spent some wonderful time with Mbali.

Mbali on the hunt
She eventually climbed a tree and surveyed her surrounds, and that was where we left her to make space for Giyani and his Java guests.

Mbali up a marula tree
Some potentially very good news is that Mbali is no longer pregnant!  When we saw her on Java a couple weeks back, she was looking quite pregnant, but that fat belly is gone, and her teats do appear to have been suckled upon – so there is a very good chance that she has had cubs, possibly in the drainage line near Java, but only time will tell if we are correct (bearing in mind that we haven’t seen any of the last two litters that we suspected she has had!).
For the first time in a number of drives, I headed back partially satisfied with what we had seen, although truth-be-told, the bush had not lived up to its usual superb sightings!  But I guess that is the beauty of the bush – you just never know what you are going to see!  And I wouldn’t want it any other way J
So that is me done for this cycle: its been a goodie with some wonderful highlights!  I have personally seen no fewer than 17 different individual leopards, aardvark, cheetah on a kill, five different prides of lions (30 different lions in total), great rhino sightings and good elephant and buffalo!  I can’t wait to see what next cycle has in store for me! 
Until then, I will keep you posted on the other guide’s sightings for the next few days before I go leave.  Enjoy!


  1. And what a great sighting and photos of Mbali to end off the cycle. VWD Chad!!!
    I hope you guys can find her with the cubs, that will be awesome...


  2. As usual you didnt let us down, asolutely Beautiful.