Sunday morning was meant to be a nice, leisurely drive, and it started off as such – we enjoyed the baboons playing on Argyle Dam wall to start the day, with the babies swinging on mom’s tail! The hippos stopped hiding, and we watched them before looking for any sign of Shongile in the north, but with no luck. In the east, Richard tracked and found the four Timbavati lionesses, and based on the size of their bellies, they have been gorging themselves on something the last couple of days. The two Machimba male lions were feasting on a kudu kill in the south-west, but moved off and left the remains to the hyenas. I had stopped for coffee and was going to make my way towards the Timbavati lions when I got the update that there was a leopard and three cheetahs together in the same sighting down in the south-west!!! It naturally drew much attention, but I couldn’t pass this opportunity, especially as we had discussed the remote odds of seeing cheetah for the last two days! We took a slow drive south, but it was a slow morning in the west, with very little popping up to keep our interests up as the other guides moved through the line-up. We saw a few wildebeest, waterbuck and impala, but not a great deal else. Eventually we managed to make our way to the sighting, but by this stage, the three males had chosen to go to rest under a shady bush in the long grass, so it was far from the most exciting sighting to have, but it was three extremely relaxed young males that made for a great sighting considering it was only our second cheetah sighting this year!!! The day was warming up, so we made our way back home, passing elephants and impalas along the way, but not much else – still, it was a drive that included three cheetahs, so I wasn’t complaining!
In the afternoon, it was a more leisurely drive, and we relocated on the four Timbavati lions, but as it was still early, they were simply resting in the shade; Classic male elephant was also at the lodge when we started drive. Marka had seen a leopard on Java Access when he was doing brushwork, so we moved in that direction to see if we could have any luck; Nthombi female leopard was also found with a female impala kill near Elephant Dam, so most of the guides went to see her, but I bided my time and checked on the large male. We drove past the mound that he was apparently on, but saw nothing, so circled the area, and only when we looked back at the mound could we see the silhouette of his head sticking out the long grass! It was far from a great visual, but it was a fantastic display of how efficient their camouflage is! We spent half an hour waiting for him to move, but he wasn’t going anywhere, so we left him in peace and went to enjoy a drink at Leopard Rock Hide. After drinks we saw hyena and check on the leopard again, but he had moved from the mound into a elephant hole, and didn’t provide any better visual, only lifting his head when the sound of distant mating leopards could be heard. As for who he was, it turns out its the same male we saw a little further north in April this year, and we saw him in May 2016 too; a large male, but likely beyond his prime and now slightly nomadic. He is not totally nervous, and could maybe provide for decent viewing in the months to come. We headed home for another lovely meal in good company before grabbing ourselves a good rest.