Sunday, 8 January 2012

6th January – Lovely Leap of Leopards

Photo of the Day

Makepisi male resting on a termite mound while his brother feeds not far off

Morning Drive
(Chad, Petros, Herold, Shaddy and Grant)
3 x leopards (Klakisa female, Makepisi male and Klakisa 4:4 young male with hyena and stolen impala kill) – Java, Java Airstrip
1 x leopard (Ximungwe’s brother) – Argyle, Buffalo Pan
2 x rhinos (2 semi-relaxed males)
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Jaydee, Makulu Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Vielmetter, Dizzy Drive
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Jaydee, Peter Pan Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Buffalo Kill Rd
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Airstrip
1 x elephant bull – Mbali, Fallen Tree
1 x elephant bull – Java, Java Access
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Peru Entrance
1 x buffalo bull – Scholtz, Kudu Pan
1 x buffalo bull – Peru, Peru Entrance
1 x buffalo bull – Argyle, Buffalo Pan Access

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Herold and Shaddy)
2 x leopards (Makepisi male and Klakisa 4:4 young male with stolen impala kill) – Java, Java Airstrip
2 x rhinos (relaxed young males)
20 x buffalo bulls – Buchner
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Vielmetter-Alberts Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Leopard Rock Hide
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam
1 x elephant bull – Jaydee, Tchwala Rd

Daily Synopsis
So it didn’t take me all that long to fall behind on my blog posts now, did it!  So apologies for that, but almost four weeks of solid driving are taking their toll on me!  Also, we had such a fantastic day today that it did take me quite a while to sit down and sift through all the images I captured!
It didn’t start off great, and as I headed to the Kruger boundary in the east, we saw very little besides a rhino...well, it was a rhino until it turned out to be a bush, but I swear I saw it move!

I swear i saw a rhino there...somewhere

At Majambi dam, we had some nice impalas and a lone wildebeest drinking, but there was no sign of the zebra herds in the area.

Impala, wildebeest and dwarf mongooses

At Kudu Pan, we found a lone buffalo bull having a drink.  While watching him, I had to listen to Herold back on drive; this is only annoying because in his second drive back, he found a leopard after about half an hour!  To make it worse, while following the leopard, he found two rhinos there as well  (in fact, that is the third time in 4 days that cats in that area have led to these rhinos being found)!

Buffalo bull and guineafowl

I was half tempted to go there, but I really owed my guests a good elephant sighting, so I was heading towards Makulu Dam area where the herds have been hanging about of late.  It was a bit quiet.  Very quiet in fact, and as I approached Java Airstrip, the tracks on the road caught my attention, and I soon realised they were for leopard.  Patrick then said “Two Ingwe’s (leopards)”, and I thought to myself, “wow, that is pretty impressive that he can see that the tracks are for two leopards...” it was then I looked up and saw two leopards sitting in the grass 10m from the road!!!

Two leopards!

They weren’t too fussed with us, as they were watching a nearby hyena more intently, mainly because the hyena was eating their impala kill!  It didn’t take me long to identify the small leopard as Klakisa young male (4:4 spot pattern), and I assumed the much bigger leopard was the mother, Klakisa.
I watched the hyena for a bit, then repositioned on the other side, both leopards still quite unfussed by us.  I was well impressed with the mother’s leopards behaviour, and explained a lot about mother-cub relations before Patrick informed me that the “mother” had, um, man-parts!  This leopard was so relaxed because it was Makepisi male!  I couldn’t believe how much bigger he was than his brother!

The gorgeous Makepisi male

The brother moved off, and then Makepisi tried to stalk up to the carcass to retrieve it, clearly not seeing that the hyena was still there, so he got a big fright when the hyena suddenly sat up, and he ran off to go sit on a mound, where I left him.  Later in the morning, some stations found that the mother had joined them, to make it a full leap of three leopards!

Stalking up the kill, not realising the hyena was lying in the bush!

Resting on a mound watching his kill get eaten

I then moved to Makulu Dam where our enjoyable morning continued with a wonderful elephant sighting as the herd splashed about in the water.

Elephants at Makulu Dam

They then moved off at speed, and we followed them for a while until they moved down into the Nhlaralumi and we stopped for coffee.

Elephants on the move to the Nhlaralumi

Heading back to camp, we passed more elephants, giraffe, waterbuck, a glimpse of a Sharpe’s Grysbok and also some kudus before arriving back for breakfast.

Male giraffe

In the afternoon I received some new guests, and being South African and having spent 5 days in the Kruger, there was not the usual pressure to find everything, so we could take it easy.
Drifting past Argyle Dam we saw impala, warthog, waterbuck and some gorgeous carmine bee-eaters, while Sohebele Dam had more impalas.  I stuck to the Nhlaralumi, hoping it would give us some buffalo and elephants, but it was quiet along its course, and knowing that we wouldn’t see Makepisi male took some of the magic away, as he had managed to get his kill back and put it up a tree!

Impalas at Sohebele Dam

We did see more waterbuck, bushbuck, impala, hippos and giraffes scattered about, as well as an enormous rock monitor lizard clinging to a tree!  The bird life was also fantastic around the water, particularly with all the fishes trapped in the puddles below Mbali Dam.

Rock monitor, saddle-billed stork, hippo

Hearing that elephants were near Makulu Dam, I headed in that direction, and ended up having a magic sighting of this herd.
While feeding on the lush green grass of the south, they ambled up to the vehicle.  Right up to the vehicle.  The one large cow must have ended up feeding less than 1m from us, totally oblivious to the joy and excitement she was causing!  It really was a special treat to be so close to such majestic beasts!

Stunning elephant sighting

Carrying on towards the leopard sighting, we saw more giraffe, wildebeest, and zebras, but didn’t spend long as the light faded.

Giraffe, zebras and impalas

Arriving at the leopard sighting, we found the brother up the tree feeding, while Makepisi was resting on the very top of a termite mound, looking a bit uncomfortable, but that could have been from the fat belly!

Makepisi male - king of his castle

We couldn’t understand why, but when the hyenas started walking past, he remained on top, safe in the knowledge that the hyenas couldn’t get him.

Scavenging hyenas around the mound and kill

The brother carried on feeding, and Makepisi eventually ambled over to the tree, but we left him when he went to rest again, and after a drink, we headed back to camp after another wonderful day at Motswari!

Makepisi's brother feeding on the kill in the tree, while Makepisi rested nearby


  1. WOW Chad what a fantastic day to see 2 leopards - Makepisi is an incredibly beautiful leopard with such amber eyes. As for the ellies playing in the dam (so special to witness) and the one eating less than 1 m from the vehicle - reduces me to tears. Thank you for sharing your magic .... only 3 weeks and I will be back in my beloved bush enjoying similar treats (I hope). Thanks hey

  2. Hi Chad. Your images are absolutely beautiful. I am a pencil artist specializing in animal portraiture. Would you mind if I used some of your photos as models for my drawings? You may see some of my work here.
    Thank you. Elizabeth

  3. WOW, stunning pictures Chad!!!
    Man, Makepisi is starting to be one of my favorites :-)
    He is beautiful!!! Thanks for the updates.


  4. Hi Chad. What amazing pictures, we do not realize how fortunate we are living in South Africa and have the opportunity's do live so close to nature.

    If I may ask, what Camera and lenses do you use to create your magic?

    Kind Regards, Fanie Potgieter

  5. Tanya van der merwe9 January 2012 at 13:50

    Hi Chad, great to meet you last week, we saw the animals you took these stunning photos of and are enjoying them even more!
    Kind regards Tanya van der merwe

  6. Hi Chad, From your South African Guests that joined that afternoon. What a fantastic weekend !!! It was magical and your knowledge and understanding of these animals wow !!

    And yes please inform Lee we are not Australian :)

    Kind Regards
    Delmar & Caroline

  7. Tanya van der merwe9 January 2012 at 14:14

    Hi to all our friends at Motswari - a huge THANK YOU for making my birthday an unforgetable experience. Tanya van der merwe

  8. @ Delmar and Caroline! hahahah, i will keep reminding her!

    @ Tanya, thanks for visiting, and hope that you and the family had a great birthday with us!

    @ Fanie - thanks for the comment - i use CAnon equipment - a 1DmkIII with 70-200 f/2.8, and a Canon 1DmkII with a 500 f4 lens as a second body :)

    @UKIngwe, he is indeed a special and beautiful cat! hope you enjoy being back in the wonderful bush!

    @ Lourens, he is one of my favourites too!

    @elizabeth, please feel free to mail me on and we can make some arrangements :)