Friday, 28 September 2012

26th September – Luckless Leap of Leopards Loses Lunch to Lonely Lion

Photo of the Day
Umfana male

Morning Drive

(Chad, Grant, Herold and Peter)

3 x leopards (Argyle Jnr and two cubs with impala kill) – Argyle, Straight Rd

1 x lion (Mafikizolo Big male stole Argyle Jnr’s kill) – Argyle, Straight Rd

2 x lions (Ximpoko male and lioness) – Kings, Ridge Rd

3 x rhinos (male, female and calf)

8 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Sharalumi Access

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Kings, Mafikizolo Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Kings, Ridge Rd

2 x elephants – Argyle, Oppikoppie Rd

Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Marka, Peter, Grant, and Herold)

3 x lions (Ximpoko males and lioness) – Kings, Ridge Rd

1 x lion (Mafikizolo Big male) – Peru, Sohebele Dam

1 x leopard (Argyle Jnr’s Boy) – Argyle, Lumphana Rd

1 x leopard (Umfana male) – Vielmetter, Bushbaby Loop

1 x leopard (Xindzuti male) – Peru, Klipgat Crossing

3 x rhinos (male, female and calf)

2 x rhinos (2 males)

2 x rhinos (2 females)

6 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Wisani Trough

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Entrance Dam rd

5 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Sharalumi Camp

1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Back Nines

1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Entrance Dam Rd

1 x elephant bull – Kings, Rockfig Rd

Daily Synopsis

I was going to try and use another alliteration in that title, but I got a little lazy!  Well, that was basically the only story of the morning for me – that Argyle Jnr and her cubs had their kill surprisingly stolen by a lion in the north after most of our guides went a long way south to see the Ximpoko males and an unknown lioness enjoying their honeymoon.

As lions had been heard roaring in the north and east, I checked north, and Herold checked east; as I was with Andreas, Monika, Kieran and Celina – regular visitors to Motswari – I took it very easy and we enjoyed chatting about trees, birds and the smaller things, not finding any sign of lions to the north as we did so (we did see a group of buffalos, but not much else), so instead we went east to help Herold, but we had no sooner approached the area when his tracks crossed off our traversing and I was now left looking at mopane trees!

Buffalos and squirrels

We stopped in the Sakarongonzo Riverbed for coffee so that Kieron and Celina could dig for water in the river bed, but despite their best efforts and finding moist soil, we (Petros and I gladly joined in!) were unable to find the precious liquid, so we drank our hot chocolate instead!

Petros helping Kieran and Celina digging for water!

Argyle Jnr and her cubs were relocated and the sighting seemed to have stabilised once everyone moved out the area, leaving just Herold there, so I headed towards him...i was about a kilometre away when he radioed me to tell me I had better  hurry as a big male lion was approaching the leopards and was going to steal the kill!

I raced the last bit and caught up shortly after the leopards had all scattered – we did relocate the young male cub high up in a knobthorn tree watching the nearby Mafikizolo male that was feeding on the kill.

Argyle Jnrs male cub safely up another knobthorn tree

The light and position wasn't great for photos, but the sighting was a treat – Herold said the female cub had also run west, while the mom had run north, so on leaving the area, I checked north and spotted something in a tree in the distance – I looked with my binoculars and confirmed to myself that it was a head and tail on a branch, so radioed in that I could see a leopard and made my way closer...however, as I did so, the shape started to disintegrate into a number of branches and I could barely contain my laughter as my idiocy in calling in a log over the radio!

Mafikizolo male feeding, and my "leopard"in a tree

We headed back to camp for a siesta on a hot afternoon before heading out with some new guests in the evening.

As there were likely to be sightings of lion and leopard in the north, I half contemplated staying up here, but when I told a guest I wasn't sure where to go, she said “go south”...and so I did!

The drive down Western Cutline was a bit quiet, but we had a few impala, and a nice sighting of a bateleur and tawny eagle that we suspect had been trying to get a large monitor lizard in a tree.

Monitor lizard that drew the attention of some eagles

The hyena den was inactive, but we then started picking up more game; wildebeest, a lone bull elephant, a herd of elephants with giraffe and zebras in attendance and some kudus.  Sadly, I was drawn quite quickly away from them for one of the main reasons for me coming to this area, so I excused myself and carried on...

Elephant bulls and elephant herd

We arrived at a dam as the three rhinos made their way closer and got to enjoy the large male wallowing in the mud while the mother and calf drank in stunning sunlight to make for a wonderful sighting.

Rhino bull having a drink

As usual, as the male approached the female, she began growling and he backed off, and then the sounds as the little one drank milk were just too cute.

Stunning rhino sighting!

Umfana male was found about 500m away, so we left the rhinos and went to see that stunning cat; he was lying on the banks of the Nhlaralumi, and was chilled for the most part, but at one stage growled at the other vehicle before getting up and moving in their direction with intent!  He soon lost interest and went to rest in the sand again where we viewed him before making space for the other guides.

Umfana male leopard

After a drink in the riverbed, we made our way towards the Ximpoko male lions that were still in the company of the lioness; while we spent about 20 minutes with them, there was no mating, although all three lions were awake and doing things at some point; our time had run out long ago, so we parted company with them and made the trip home.

Ximpoko males and a lioness

At one point we had to drive with our lights of so as not to disturb a nearby bush dinner, and we passed a lone elephant at that point, and it was magic to watch him in the moonlight; even more amazing was then sitting at the hyena den in the same bright moonlight as all five cubs came up to the land rover and walked around us investigating what we were – super special doesn’t even begin to describe it!

We were now very late, so we had to make a speedy trip back to the lodge and unsurprisingly didn’t see anything, but considering what else we had been privy to this afternoon, it didn’t seem to matter!


  1. Outstanding photos Chad - the leopard shots are incredible and the rhino photos are just wonderful! I love your photos.

  2. My effort with a title – could not help myself. I just adore this young man’s work. Thank you for sharing with us, Chad.
    “Lovely Leopards, Lions & Lodgers Leads to Lazy Leisure, Log Liabilities & Laughter”