Saturday, 30 June 2012

28th June – Leap of Leopards

Photo of the Day

Argyle Jnr's cub
Morning Drive

(Herold, Shadrack, Godfrey, Grant and Chad)

3 x leopards (Argyle Jnr female and 2 cubs on impala kill) – Peru, Sohebele Dam

2 x rhinos (mother and calf)

1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Karans, Mananga Cutline

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Nyosi River Rd

4 x elephant bulls – Karans, Old Closed Rd

1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam Rd

Afternoon Drive

(Grant and Chad)

2 x leopards (Argyle Jnr’s Cubs) – Peru, Sohebele Dam

2 x rhino (Mother and calf)

1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Bluewaxbill

Daily Synopsis

Well hello again!  Im back on the blog for the next three days or so before I head off on leave, so hope to share some good moments with you all!

The last few days I have been back on drive, and the game has been alright – I am lucky that I have some familiar faces with me on drive, Andres, Monika, Kieron and Celina, who are regular visitors to Motswari, so we can just take it easy and enjoy being in the bush, and over the first three drives we did just that!

Zebra, impala, giraffe and sunset at Argyle Dam
The first drive was spent with a herd of elephants near the camp, a lovely sundowner at Argyle Dam and then a quick sighting of Argyle Jnr’s one leopard cub, but as she was there too with both cubs and a fresh impala kill on the ground, we couldn’t spend time with her and decided to try the next day.  The interesting thing was that I had seen their tracks right there in the morning whilst doing a bushwalk, but a buffalo that ran off in the area and the sound of what sounded like an elephant in some thick mopane led me to walk around the thicket – had I not heard that, I may just have walked into the leopard and cubs on the kill!

Argyle Jnr's young cub - quiet relaxed for a change!
Sadly she lost the kill to hyenas, but we got to see all three of them on the kill yesterday afternoon, as well as finding Makepisi male leopard all the way up at Concrete Crossing in the late evening – surprising for two reasons; firstly we had glimpsed him briefly while watching a herd of buffalo on Java in the morning (several kilometres south of where he was now!); secondly, he had reportedly been found in that same area in the afternoon; and lastly, Kieron, my young guest, was the one that found him when he “heard something in the riverbed while we were sitting watching the stars – so we turned on the lights to find this gorgeous leopard walking along the rocky riverbed and up onto the eastern bank!

Makepisi male following behind a herd of buffalo, but then finding him several kilometres north later in the day
Still, the highlight of my afternoon was tracking a black rhino – sadly it went into the Kruger, but still amazing to see the tracks and droppings around – the first time I have had the chance to examine the droppings and tracks in the Timbavati (despite having seen one myself in 2008 near the lodge)!  Chatting to Herold and Shaddy, they say that they have seen his tracks a number of times coming into our eastern sections, and with some territorial scrapings going on, it would be wonderful to see him here one sure it is just a matter of time!

The lack of lions has been frustrating, and despite tracking lions literally across the length of the property yesterday, they crossed from Kruger in the north-east to Klaserie in the south-west!!!

Back to today, and I went out with just Andreas, and took it easy really , heading straight south to check up on the hyena den, but in the very windy weather, the game was not out and about, and we saw nothing but impala on the way down, and sadly found that even the hyenas were not keen on playing along and didn’t emerge from their hole.

Curious hyena cubs at the den from a few days ago - sadly no luck today
Carrying on, I went to follow up on some buffalo tracks that had crossed off the property; luckily I found the large herd slowly making their way back into our area, but the lion tracks that had also been nearby were not as cooperative and the lions that made them did not bother returning. 

I left the area and carried on seeing some nice giraffes and zebras with a lot of impala scattered around Vielmetter, but none of the elephants I had been hoping for.  Earlier on in the drive, Godfrey had found the mother rhino and calf in the east and commented on how relaxed the young one was this morning, so we took a chance, and then found Herold who had just walked in to view them on foot, so off we went to try for ourselves, and with Petros tracking and Andreas and I following behind, we eventually found the two rhinos in a relatively good area (well, for a mopane belt anyway!) and stood and watched them for about 15 minutes as they grazed about 40m from us.  We tried to get a bit of a better view, but the wind changed slightly and the mother picked up our scent and became a bit more alert, so we left them in peace and headed back to the lodge.

Tower of giraffes and a male impala at Hide Dam
In the afternoon, the whole family was back on board, but sadly, the animals were not. We went to follow up on the rhinos and dropped Petros to track them down as their tracks did not come out of the block, but it took him a while to locate the tracks in the middle of the massive block, but as I drove around enjoying the masses of mopane trees, two squirrels, one steenbuck and one herd f impalas, Petros let me know that he had found them. It took a while to find Petros, but then the rhinos had moved, so tracking them some more led to a relocation, but sadly the calf was not having any of it and ran off as we approached, leaving us seeing no more than the bum of a rhino as it disappeared in front of mom!

Cutting our losses, we went to try the leap of leopards that had all but finished their kill; we only saw the two cubs, one of which was lying on a rocky outcrop and soon came and climbed down about 7m from us! That is extremely relaxed for these cubs, and encouraging to see! It was dark and we could hear one cub chewing on some bones, so decided to leave them in peace and head for a drink at Argyle Dam in the dark with one hippo out the water before making our way back to camp.

Argyle Jnr's cub climbing off some rocks after finihsing the family's kill
Shongile leopardess had been seen at Motswari Private Camp, but she sadly moved straight into Ingwelala, but wonderful to have her back – maybe next time we shall get to see this beautiful leopard!


  1. I love your pictures and your stories too!!!
    Maia Afrika

  2. Oh my sake - the leopard and hyena cubs are just the cutest, but how spectacular are those leopards - well done!! yet again Chad. THANKS!!

  3. its an absolute pleasure zenda and maia :)