Friday, 12 October 2012

10th and 11th October – Leopardo, Leopardo, Where for Art Thou Leopardo?

 Photo of the Day

Relaxed sub-adult Serval!
10th October Morning Drive
(Chad, Andrea, Grant and Shaddy)
2 x lions (Ximpoko males) – Argyle, Mfene Crossing
2 x rhinos
1 x rhino
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Java Dam
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Klipgat Crossing

10th October Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Andrea and Shaddy)
2 x lions (Ximpoko males) – Argyle, Mfene Crossing
1 x leopard (Umfana male) – Vielmetter, Crossing Below Entrance Dam
2 x rhinos
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Java Dam
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Peter Pan Access
5 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Flooded Crossing
2 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Western Sohelebele River Rd
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Long Rd
1 x elephant bull – Jaydee, Tchwala Rd
1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Camp

11th October Morning Drive
(Chad, Andrea, Grant and Shaddy)
1 x rhino
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Jaydee, Nkombi Pan
1 x buffalo bull – Argyle, Rudi’s Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Double Highway

11th October Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Andrea and Shaddy)
3 x rhinos
5 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Wisani Access
6 x buffalo bulls – Vielmetter, Sweetwater
1 x elephant bull – Mbali, Buffalo Kill Rd
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd

Daily Synopsis
I thought I was done with the double posts, but still really busy this side, and as the last two days were not overly productive, I thought I would just combine the posts to get up to date again!

For starters, the weather turned!  Clouds, coolth and wind replaced the sun, warmth and sweat from the last few days; but having had lions roaring near the lodge all night, I was hopeful that we would soon get lucky with some cats, so off I set to the northern parts of the lodge after enjoying a lovely sunrise.  Sadly, an hour later, we hadn’t even found any track we could follow up on, and on hearing that Western Cutline was being productive, I decided to cut my losses and move in that direction, especially as Marka had tracks for two lions crossing north off the property.

I made my way south and by-passed on the two separate buffalo herds in favour of an active hyena den; the first morning it has been active the last three weeks!  I almost couldn’t believe how big the little cubs had gotten, and their spots are eventually starting to show through now!  They were quite active, and even the two larger cubs were around drinking milk from mom.

Hyena cubs at last!

Murphy’s Law, as I had committed to going south, the two Ximpoko males were located near Mfene Crossing, just next to our airstrip! I thus headed back north, this time spending time with the buffalos that I skipped past earlier.

Buffalo herd

General game took the form of impalas, waterbuck and giraffe, and then we arrived to find the lions resting on the banks of the Sohebele Riverbed; the collared one was awake and sitting up, but his partner was not interested in doing much, so we soon left them and returned to the lodge.

Ximpoko males, impalas and waterbuck

I received a complete change-over of guests in guests, so had to begin with everything all over again, and luckily for me, this meant a very chilled afternoon in the north!  Two guests arrived a touch late, so after ticking off impala, waterbuck and kudu, they joined us and I wasn't going to take a chance with the Ximpoko males like last night, so I went straight there and found them resting in the riverbed – sadly they were totally inactive, and I guess it was the price I paid – Grant on the other hand took the gamble and it paid off – late in the evening he got to watch them trying to catch a buffalo!  One male managed to get on the buffalos back, but as it raced through a mopane thicket, the lion got dislodged and the buffalo got away...i guess you win some and lose some!

Lazy lions

The rest of my drive was very chilled; we had two groups of buffalo bulls, impala, hippos, crocodiles, giraffe, waterbuck and then a stroppy elephant that later interrupted our drinks stop at Lover’s Leap and we all had to climb back into the vehicle!

Buffalo, giraffe and elephant

After dark we tried for some leopards, but had no luck – we did tick off brief sightings of honey badger and white-tailed mongoose which is not half bad!  Later, a lone elephant bull also joined us for dinner!

The next morning was another cloudy day, but sadly the wind had picked up immensely and we were all, well, a bit blown away!  

The gloomy weather turned into a gloomy drive, and it was not the best I have had of late!  I began checking the east, and after starting with giraffe, impalas and a small herd of zebras, things got a tad quiet my side.  Okay, a tad quiet is an understatement!

We saw impala herds, a few giraffe and some waterbuck, but the my drive got a bit frustrating when I tried to respond to a herd of elephants that just turned and ran off, leaving me looking at the bum of one bull running into a mopane thicket!

Giraffe, impala and zebra

More frustrating was that my plan to go and see a rhino in the west would have put me in a great position to see lions and buffalos, but both crossed out into Klaserie, leaving me with not much to do besides have a cup of coffee!

Luckily after coffee, the buffalo herd had turned and arrived at Nkombi Pan just as I drove past; it was  a big herd and we spent time watching them come and drink.

Large breeding herd of buffalo at Nkombi Pan

I then went to relocate the rhino, but he had moved, so Petros went on foot and as I was about to give up, Petros called to tell me he had found him, so we spent time watching the large bull before having to rush back to camp as we were already late!

Rhino bull

The afternoon saw most of us in desperate need of leopard, as Andrea was the only one of us to have found a leopard the last few days (when she found Umfana male up his favourite tree at Entrance Dam).  Grant had seen fresh tracks for Nthombi in the morning, so we headed in that direction.  Drive started with the usual general game of impalas and plenty of waterbuck, warthogs, bushbuck, hippos and a lone elephant bull.

Waterbuck, giraffe, warthog, elephant bull and buffalos

After dropping off the trackers, we got to enjoy a lovely sighting of a crash of rhinos, with the large male deciding that it was an ideal time to go and wallow in the mud, even on such a cool day!

Mud wallowing!

He eventually got out of the water and followed the mother and calf, and the calf bravely walked up to him as if to challenge him; when the mother snorted, the male backed off immediately and we left them feeding around the dam.

Rhino stand-off

The conditions were not good for tracking, so the trackers made slow progress before running out of light, but as the tracks were not overly fresh, it was a bit of a long shot; bumbling around only produced impalas and a group of buffalo.

The highlight of the last couple of days though came in the form of a relaxed young serval!  I was hoping to be able to respond to Mbali leopardess near Argyle Dam, but when she was lost, I got a bit despondent, only to have the best serval sighting I have had since May 2007!  It was the same young serval that the guides have seen a couple of times on Vielmetter and Jaydee, and they weren’t exaggerating, that thing is really as relaxed as most of our leopards!  We followed her for a while as she walked about hunting, but eventually we had to part company and head back to the lodge, leopardless…again!  I now sincerely hope that tomorrow brings a serious change in fortune for us.,…but hey, I still got to see a serval!

Relaxed serval!


  1. Wonderful Chad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. ... 'n tierboskat ... en wonderlike aksie foto's ... kan net nie genoeg van die blog kry nie!!! Dankie Chad.

  3. Love the little Serval - looks very cat-like washing her face!! Thanks for the super pics. I love this blog-site, it really makes my day to go through the bush with you all.