Friday started off a lot cooler than yesterday, so with gloves and beanies on, we headed out and spent the first part of the morning with impala and some waterbuck on our airstrip as the sun slowly rose. We had no sooner moved off when Shadrack from the maintenance team radioed to say that there was a leopard on the airstrip, and it wasn’t the same male that had visited Giraffe’s Nest last night – it was a relaxed female. We moved back to the airstrip past some kudus, but soon realised that we didn’t actually know where Shadrack was, and by the time we found him, the leopard had moved off into the bush – Difference and Goodman went on foot, but after spending much of the morning tracking, still came back empty handed. I had moved south after a fruitless hour of searching and headed towards where Marka had found a rhino whilst following up on some cheetah tracks in the south; unknown to me was the fact that the rhino was on a mission and had been left unattended, so arriving in the south, I was greeted with the news that there was no rhino, and that it was long gone! I consoled myself with a few zebras and a sighting of the long-lost Nthombi female leopard, but for once, she was rather inactive and we left her resting in some shade as the morning warmed up. Heading home, we saw some giraffe and zebras, impala and duiker, but in general, it was a quiet and frustrating morning for me. Elephants and a lone buffalo bull were about all that showed across the rest of the reserve this morning.
Luckily, the afternoon was a good one; we started spotting an elephant bull in the far distance at Argyle Dam, and found another couple of young bulls in the area too before moving off towards the hyena den – something I have not managed to get to of late. We did find another hyena resting at a pan and then Difference spotted a shy female leopard as we passed another mud wallow; it appeared to be the Leadwood female, but she slunk off into a mopane thicket, and although we found her on Vyeboom dam wall as we circled around, when we spotted her in the open, she made a very quick exit into an even thicket woodland and we left her in peace. We spent time with some giraffe and impalas before finding that the hyena den was quite active with five adults and five cubs out – there was some lovely vocalisation even if there wasn’t a great deal of interaction and action as the cubs were more intent on milk than playing. Not too far away, we pulled into a sighting of Ntima male leopard who was found resting up a large marula tree and we enjoyed watching him resting there; he was so content that he even began snoring! Johannes had found the lone Sumatra lioness in the east, so after leaving the leopard, we moved in that general direction and after a brief drink in the dark arrived to find that she was still in a very relaxed state of rest, and despite spending some time with her, there was not much more action than rolling over once, so we made tracks for the lodge, seeing a few hyenas and a chameleon en route to the camp to round off a good day.