01 June 2017

Maybe my memory is short, but this winter is feeling like it is shaping up to be the coolest one we have had in a while, and this morning was again not too different – beanies, gloves and a few layers kept us warm as we headed out; some guides went south looking for rhinos, but I opted to check the north to see if the Western Pride might have made a return, and after impala and a lone waterbuck, we struck it lucky when Difference somehow spotted a male lion walking a distance away into a mopane thicket; we managed to catch up with him – it was the injured pride male – and followed as best we could until he gave us the slip, but after a bit of searching we spotted one of the females up ahead, just as she spotted some buffalo bulls who were less than happy to see her; the male didn’t show much interest in helping, and after being chased, the lioness joined the male and he shadowed her as they made their way down into the riverbed in front of the lodge where we left them for the others to enjoy.  Turning back onto the open radio channel, it was abuzz with noise – Ntima male leopard in the west, Xiviti male leopard in the east, and Madzinyo male leopard in the south!  Spoilt for choice, I opted for Ntima and headed off past the hippos and waterbuck at Argyle Dam in his general direction.  We found a herd of elephants before we moved along the Nhlaralumi to the south; impala, hippos and a magical herd of buffalos at Lion Pan kept us busy until we arrived at Ntima male leopard just as he was moving down towards the riverbed which made it a bit difficult, but we managed until he eventually crossed over into the thickets on the bank and we parted company.  Making our way back to the lodge, the animals all started coming out – impala, zebra, giraffe herds, kudu, waterbuck, warthogs – it was a great way to end the drive, and my guests stay!

The afternoon saw me starting out with new guests at Geiger’s Camp, and as their sole request was for leopard, that was the focus of the afternoon.  We began by getting distracted by a herd of elephants on our airstrip, but then had to ignore more elephants at Argyle Dam, as well as news that the two lions from the morning had caught a large waterbuck bull at the dam!  I opted to go and look for Ntima male leopard, but with a herd of buffalo in that area drawing some attention, I chose to rather avoid that part of the reserve and moving through the eastern sections, headed south towards Madzinyo, who was still sitting on the termite mound into which he had chased a warthog this morning.  It was a quiet drive south, but we saw impala, waterbuck, kudu, zebra and giraffes; with light fading though, we didn’t spend much time and carried on towards the leopard that had been left unattended, but luckily found him still grooming himself on the mound he had spent the day.  He clearly lost patience and moved off within a few minutes of us arriving – I have seen this boy for a while, but it was awesome to see just how comfortable he is with vehicles now, and he waltzed within 5m of my parked vehicle as he moved to a new spot to groom; not even a passing hyena disturbed him, but he eventually got up and moved south as he set off on a territorial patrol, even ignoring the alarm calling impalas in the area.  Although he seemingly spends most of his time south and east of our concession, I am hoping that this is the beginning of some more regular viewing of this skew-toothed, cool cat!  We pretty much made our way straight back north after that, not seeing more than the usual chameleons, impalas and a herd of elephants before closing down.  The other guides got to enjoy the buffalo herd, some elephants and the two lions on their kill.  I will be checking up on them tomorrow 🙂