Wednesday, 26 December 2012

22nd December – Lovely Leopards at Last!!!

Photo of the Day
Some spots return to my viewfinder!!!

Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant, Shaddy, Marka and Andrea)
2 x rhinos
1 x rhino
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Jaydee, Vielmetter-Alberts Cutline
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Soccer Field
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Java-Mbali
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Mpisi Khaya Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Shaddy, Marka, Johannes and Andrea)
2 x leopards (Rockfig Jnr and Umfana male) – Kings, Sibejwane Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Jaydee, Makulu Crossing
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Motswari, Western Cutline
4 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Wedge River Rd
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Northern Boundary
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Giraffe Pan Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Ingwelala Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Western Sharalumi
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd

Daily Synopsis

My excuse for being so far behind in my blog posts could just be that it’s Christmas and I know that most f you would have been busy shopping and eating yummy food, so now that you have settled down after the rush, you can enjoy catching up on what has been going on...actually, I like that excuse, so I want share the real reason!

Anyways, this morning drive was my last drive to find leopard for John and Mary-Jane and I was really going to go south this morning, and so was Shaddy, so off I bumbled until I caught up with him on Western Cutline so I modified my route slightly, but I was still only a couple hundred metres from him when he found a semi-relaxed male rhino at a mud-wallow; sadly the rhino got up and moved off, crossing the road in front of us before heading into a very thick mopane area and we decided not to put pressure on him, but did manage to find some of his relatives nearby, a herd of zebras.

Resuming our journey south, things were a bit quiet, and there was no news coming about any leopards, so we stopped to enjoy a nice herd of wildebeest on Java Airstrip.

A wake of circling vultures drew us into an area a bit further south, but there was nothing to see sadly, so again, we made the best of what we had, and that was a lovely bateleur eagle displaying on a dead tree!

As Shaddy had taken most the roads I had planned on using, I went a bit further west and managed to find a large breeding herd of buffalo making their way north towards Makulu Dam.

A little further along the road, we stopped to enjoy a hamerkop stork at a small pool along the Nhlaralumi when Petros spotted a rhino and calf feeding on the river bank on the other side, so we went and spent time with them before making a turn north.

I checked along the Nhlaralumi all the way back north, and guess what we found, a LEOPARD..........tortoise.  Still, it was a baby leopard tortoise, so we had a look at him before making our way back to camp, leopardless (well, we did have a brief sighting last night, but not our usual standard!), but at least it is a reason for John and Mary-Jane to return!

In the afternoon, I was taking it easy with the Colins family, and bumbled in the north, looking at hippos and some giraffe on our northern boundary.  Then a radio call came in telling us that they had two leopards way down south – clearly it drew attention of a lot of guides, so we decided to play it by ear and take an easy trip down south.  It was a quiet trip, but we saw some decent general game in the form of impalas, waterbuck, steenbuck and kudus before closing for a slightly early sundowner on a rocky cliff on the banks of the Nhlaralumi.

Resuming after drinks, the leopards had parted company and this sped up moving through the line up, so I headed straight to “Rockfig Jnr’s boy” – but unlike usual, he was super relaxed, and I got to within about 5m of him without him moving (he was in a very tight spot!)...he also looked massive.

He soon got up and walked to a fallen tree and began scent marking and sniffing around, not paying much attention to the hyena around.  Grant was with Rockfig Jnr as she headed in our direction to reunite with her son, but he stopped short and we waited and watched the male leopard watching her.

Eventually she came up to the tree and began snarling at him, and he climbed down, scent-marked and carried on before she climbed the tree to where he had been, and we had to leave as we were already quite late, but we had such a lovely sighting that we weren’t too fussed!  The drive back wasn't productive, but we did see some young hyenas at the den site.  It was only when back at the lodge and chatting to Andrea that we realised why the male leopard’s behaviour was strange – it wasn't Rockfig Jnr’s son, it was Umfana male!  That also explained why he was so relaxed and so big!  As good a day as we had, I only wish that it had happened a drive earlier so that my other guests could have seen a leopard sighting like that; I guess that is the nature of the bush, isn’t it!

Umfana male leopard after all of that


  1. LOVE the first picture, wonderful ! Great blog as always Chad and like having the pictures of you included too, would be good to see pics of the other rangers and trackers on the blogs too so that we can put faces to names ! Rosie

  2. Thanks for ID'ing the Umfana male ... I was so confused in reading the blog and viewing the pics because I thought "Wow, what happened to his eyes, they must be hazel not blue because they sure look copper/brown". Thanks much!

  3. Hi Chad!! It´s Najla, from the brazilian family... I CAN´T BELIEVE THAT YOU SAW A LEOPARD JUST THE DAY AFTER WE LEFT!! hahaha... amazing pictures!!! hope to see lots of leopards next time we go there!! :)