My morning drive saw me head south and east, and venture towards a newly added property within our traversing area; I meandered through the east toward the Kruger cutline not seeing much besides kudu, hippos and impala. The trip along Kruger boundary didnt produce any sightings, so it was a bit annoying to hear that when Grant drove there a little later in the morning, he found a large herd of buffalo moving into Kruger from where I had earlier driven – but Grant and Tiyani were having a good drive and began the morning finding Machaton male leopard not too far from the lodge with a small kill, but he was looking worse for wear with fresh cuts and scrapes, no food in his belly, and a porcupine quill or two in his chest; a fallen king it appears to be. I didnt change my plans, and persisted in the south and was soon rewarded with some large elephant bulls and a group of buffalo bulls – our first in a few days. I loved driving through some new territory, and besides impalas, nesting vultures and a black-backed jackal, we found a welcome cup of coffee before ticking off a couple of herds of zebra and wildebeest. Moving back west, we found a large herd of buffalo at a waterhole before moving back north to the lodge. Grant popped out on the road just behind me, and opted to head home a different route; I was going to tell him that his good deed would be rewarded with a lion, but didnt…needless to say, he was rewarded with a lion a few minutes later when the Sumatra lioness popped into view! The Western Pride had reunited, and all nine lions had moved back into Ingwelala, but just north of our boundary.
In the afternoon, three of the Western Pride could be seen from our northern boundary, but they moved deeper into Ingwelala. I opted for a chilled drive, and spent the first part of the afternoon with some large elephant bulls (including Classic) close to the lodge before checking to see if Machaton male leopard was around, and was pleased to find him lying next to a small drainage line enjoy his small meal – the presence of the impaled porcupine quills soon made sense when we saw that he was eating a porcupine! It was the first time I had seen a leopard eat one, and after having watched the leopard for almost forty minutes, soon understood why this wasnt on the menu too often, as he was continuously getting quills stuck in his mouth and his tongue! It was sad to see this once strong male looking so old and frail – gashes on his rear leg, a ripped eyelid, loss of muscle, and old to the point of not caring about vehicles anymore (he was extremely relaxed today!). I had speculated with the guests that Ntima was the reason for his wounds, and when Grant and Tiyani tracked Ntima male leopard down not 1km away from our position, I became quietly confident that we were in the midst of a change of territorial ownership. Ntima had lost his bushbuck kill to hyenas, but got some of it back and treed it before seemingly dropping it and losing the remains to the hyenas. I moved east for my sundowner and after some time with more elephant bulls at a small pan, arrived to enjoy a sundowner in the east with the curious hippos and a more curious hyena that came walking past us! The drive home didn’t produce much, but after such a lovely relaxed afternoon, I wasn’t too upset!