Sunday, 25 September 2011

24th September – Leopards Leave it Until the Last!

Photo of the Day
Leopard at last!  Rockfig Jnr
Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant and Herold)
4 x lions (Jacaranda Pride x 2 lionesses, 1 cub and 1 x Xakubasa adult lioness with giraffe kill) – Argyle, Oppikoppie Rd
1 x leopard (Kuhanya female) – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing
1 x leopard (Rockfig Jnr Female) – Kings, Cole’s Drive

Afternoon Drive
4 x lions (Jacaranda Pride x 2 lionesses, 1 cub and 1 x Xakubasa adult lioness with giraffe kill) – Argyle, Oppikoppie Rd

Daily Synopsis
What started off looking like it could be a nice day soon turned gloomy as the wind and cold picked up.  Whether it was the weather or merely the roads I chose to drive, but the viewing definitely matched the mood that the clouds had set.
Having had no sign of leopard in the north for the last few days, I decided to neglect them, almost.  I used some logic – being a male, its sometimes difficult – and figured out that if Kuhanya is not in the north, she must be in the east, so I went east.  Kuhanya wasn't there...well, not yet anyway.
In fact, very little was there besides tracks for a big crash of rhinos that moved back into Kruger.  Oh, we did see impala.

Impalas and approaching inclement weather
Hearing that Giyani had tracks for a leopard down south on Java, I headed there to help him.  Whilst on route, Morne from King’s Camp radioed to tell me that he had found Rockfig Jnr leopardess on their property, and if the line-up cleared, we were welcome to go south to see her.  That definitely eased some pressure, but I still went to help Giyani and left the trackers on foot.  I carried on without much success, seeing only impala and waterbuck
As another leopard was found in the south, the number of people responding to Rockfig Jnr was halved, and I was actually able to go straight to the sighting.  I had no sooner got to the standby point when the inevitable happened.  Earlier, I had told my guests that the best way to ensure that leopard was found would be to drive to the opposite side of the reserve; sure enough, as I got to that aforementioned opposite side, who pops up in the north?  Johannes.  “Thats not a leopard!” I hear you say, and yes, you would be correct.  But they do call him the Leopard Man for a reason – whilst he was on leave the last seven days, we saw very few leopards.  He returned from leave this morning and was out to do a link-up with some of Herold’s guests that had an early check-out.  It literally took Johannes 3-minutes to find a leopard!!!!  How is that possible!?!!?!
Anyway, it was possible, and he found Kuhanya leopardess on Sean’s Clearing (which for some reason is anything but a clearing!!!) and radioed in to Grant and Herold who made their way there.
I continued on to see Rockfig Jnr and actually had a nice, albeit slightly short sighting of her as she used a couple of termite mounds as vantage points to look for a meal and to rest. 

Rockfig Jnr posing on a termite mound
It was wonderful for my guests to see how relaxed this beauty was as she twice came walking past within centimetres of our Land Rover.

Rockfig Jnr

As she was close to a riverbed that couldn’t be crossed, I made space for some of the other stations and headed back north.  Once more, it was rather quiet and I couldn’t even find a herd of elephants that had been around a few minutes earlier! 
Arriving in the north, I also dropped off some guests with Johannes who was waiting for Herold at the leopard sighting, and as such I got to see Kuhanya too, but also very briefly as she soon disappeared in an open area of tall grass!  No wonder we never see her!  Also, just to prove that logic does sometimes work, we happened to see her in exactly the same area I had gone to check for her in the morning, I was just about two-and-a-half hours early...who said the early bird catches the worm?  And even if it does, its clear that the late drivers catch the leopards, and I much prefer the latter strategy!

A warthog and Kuhanya - Beauty and the beast...
Afternoon was quiet in camp, and only Herold went out – he spent most of his afternoon in sightings that involved giraffes – one had four lions eating it in the form of the Jacaranda Pride that were still feeding on the kill (I took some staff to see it later in the afternoon), and his other sighting was time spent watching a pair of mating giraffes!

Jacaranda cub still feeding on the giraffe kill
So all in all a good day...and, with myself coming off drive for the next while as I head on leave, you can be sure that the sightings are only going to get better!
My predications of what I will miss include: wild dogs coming back, white lions spending time in the area, Mafikizolo Pride with a buffalo kill, Argyle male leopard with a kill, and I am almost certain that at some point while I’m on leave, someone will get to see Mbali’s cubs!
Anyway, I trust that you have enjoyed the updates over the last 2 weeks from me; I once more leave you in the capable (and far more timely and efficient) hands of Grant as he blogs about the sightings for the coming week and a half!
Enjoy yourselves where ever you may be reading this!

Chad Cocking


  1. Hi Chad

    Beautiful photo's as usual.

    Have a good break.

    Sue and Andy UK

  2. Hi Chad, Great leopard pics, Kuhanya is gorgeous!!!
    Enjoy the break...
    Welcome back to the blog Grant, let's see some animals :-)... Just kidding Chad.