So after a few days off drive, I returned to the fray on Wednesday hearing that whilst the lions hadn’t been playing along so well (only the Ross females showed up in the south) over the last few days, at least the rhinos and leopards had returned – Nthombi female leopard had two kills in the far south, Shongile female leopard was up in the north calling for her cub, Inkanye female leopard was seen near Giraffe’s Nest, Machaton male leopard was found resting in the middle of the road close to the lodge, and Mondzweni male leopard had a large male impala kill in on Java, and thankfully was still there for my first afternoon back.
I began by scratching around for Shongile in the north and started off ticking off vervet monkeys, a lone giraffe bull and a gorgeous, old male elephant. Whilst in the north, word was received that not only was Mondzweni male leopard still with his kill, but Duma male lion had also pitched up in the west; I slowly headed in that direction, but not before finding a relaxed female duiker and some nyala bulls along the Sohebele riverbed. Further along we saw impala and then a large breeding herd of elephants that occupied our time as the sun set on the western horizon. We moved towards Duma, and as is always the way when you have to get somewhere, the animals all started showing up; vultures, another elephant bull, more giraffe, waterbuck, a large male kudu, a herd of kudus, a herd of giraffes, more elephant and eventually, a male lion! Whilst I didn’t get photos, it was a nice sighting as this regal male sat up yawning, grooming and stretching before flopping back to the ground again – what a beautiful boy he is, and so good to have him back in the area! It was already dark, and having missed out on the drinks, we opted to carry on and see if we could get lucky with Mondzweni male leopard, which we did. Arriving in the area, a hyena wandered past, and we hoped its presence would disturb the leopard and force him up the tree that housed the measly remains of his kill, but Mondzweni was not interested and slept soundly until we were about to leave and a hyena moved in. Despite being less than six feet from the snarling leopard, the hyena was unfazed, and in a way, Mondzweni himself wasn’t all that perturbed, and just lay watching the hyena that skulked around the area sniffing for scraps. When the hyena wandered off, we too decided to make tracks, and headed home enjoying the stars, but not much nightlife along the way – still, it was a very good first drive to get under one’s belt!