Sunday, 9 December 2012

8th Dec - Cats in Bushes!

Shindzuti male leopard
Morning Drive
(Peter & Andrea)

Lion (pride of 6) / Motswari – Bush Braai

Elephant (Breeding Herd) / Java – Whitey’s Rest

Afternoon Drive
(Peter & Andrea)

Lion (Pride of 6) / Motswari – Bush Braai

Leopard (Shindzuti male) / Peru – Pan Road

With request for leopard this morning we started out with spots on the brain, however, once we hit the airstrip and found fresh lion tracks, we decided they were definitely worth following up on. Petros and Patrick were on foot while Peter and myself scouted out the area. It wasn’t long before we found very excited hyena and knew something was close by but we just couldn’t find it! The tracks went up and down our bush braai road where we could see the lion had been chasing a buffalo…but no sign of the cats. After looping around, Petros radioed to say they had heard a growl somewhere close and we needed to come in with the car. So once again, we drive up Bush Braai road until we found the trackers who hopped on the car and directed us to the audio. We found the hyena again, and as we round a dense pocket of mopane we came across the pride of 6 lion with their brilliantly amber eyes, devouring a young buffalo. What a find! 

We sat with them for a good part of the morning while they tucked in to breakfast. The one male was not too happy with us though and after a couple of warning huffs and puffs we decided to leave them in peace while they finished off their meal. Simbavati guys had been tracking leopard near Buffalo Pan and so after a morning coffee stop we went to follow up. Unfortunately it was not as successful as our lion tracking this morning. Time seemed to catch up with us and so we headed back to camp.

The afternoon started during lunch-time where our resident warthog strolled by with her two youngsters. With another lot of guests only staying for one night, the pressure continued.

I started by returning to the lion kill from this morning to see how much was left. One rather grumpy female was still feeding and was not too happy with us being around and after a few angry growls, snarls and lunges we moved to view the males. With the heat of the day taking it’s toll, the lion had crept into the shade of the surrounding Mopane vegetation. The visual was therefore not ideal, but the full-bellied lions continued to sit and pant trying to digest the buffalo meat they had just devoured. There was already not much meat left so I doubt there will be any tomorrow.

We continued along towards Peru property still in the hopes of any sign of a spotted cat. I was pleasantly surprised then as we turned onto Pan Road that we found a leopard lying in the middle of the road. I stopped quite a way back in attempts to identify the male before edging any closer. However, I had stopped too far and couldn’t quite see the spot pattern clearly enough. As we crept closer, he ducked down into the bushes and there was our ID – definitely Shindzuti. We could still see him tucked in the undergrowth and decided to wait it out. Eventually he popped out, gave us one quick photo opportunity and then started walking off into the thick bush.

It was good to see him however, as I have not had a sighting of that boy in months and he is looking healthy and good. With distant lightening and cumulonimbus clouds buiding up, the sky looked spectacular – photographs (well, mine anyway) never quite do it justice. We had drinks down in the dry Sohebele riverbed and watched the “firework” display of fork and sheet lightning.

The rest of the evening was quite quiet as we meandered back home. Our show of lights continued right through dinner and when the few drops of rain did start to fall, we were thankfully back at camp and undercover!

1 comment:

  1. Shindzuti is beautiful Andrea, and although you had one opportunity to get a photo of him you did very well :-).

    Lovely lion sighting and shots as well.