Although the weather was was a bit gloomy today, the sightings were anything but, and we returned home from the morning drive having ticked off the Big 5 plus much more! The day began with me waking up from a good night’s sleep to realising the lions that I had enjoyed roaring in my dream were not actually in my dream, and that the Western Pride were roaring very close to camp; arriving at reception I heard that Difference and Jacky were already off tracking down the lions, so as soon as the guests climbed aboard the vehicle, I headed off in the direction of the trackers only to hear that Grant – who had left a minute or two earlier – had already found a large cat not 300m down the road, but his was a spotted cat in the form of Machaton male leopard walking in the direction of the camp dam wall, but having seen this leopard so nicely yesterday, we literally drove past as we glimpsed the leopard moving through the bush. I would have stayed a little longer were it not for the fact that as we approached Grant on the road, Difference called to say that they had found the lions that had moved off as the trackers spotted them. A few hundred meters up the road we were moving east into the bush in the direction where the lions had headed, and soon spotted a couple of elephants that were running after the lions – three of the Big 5 in the first four minutes of game drive! The Western Pride had reunited and all nine members were present, and moved through the mopane woodlands before settling down and engaging in a little bit of play before taking to rest for the remainder of the day. We carried on and headed to the west in search of rhinos; a lone elephant bull, a small breeding herd of elephants and some drinking giraffes soon filled our viewfinders along with the usual baboons, kudu, steenbuck, impala and waterbuck. Along the Nhlaralumi we spent more time with another two elephant herds before carrying on towards where some tracks for rhino had been seen – it was whilst looking for these that I was notified that another tracker had found a couple of rhinos not all that far from our position and I moved in his direction and joined another guide with the two young rhinos. A couple of kilometres further down the road, “Ntima” male leopard was walking around on the still cloudy morning, and half of me stopped in to join Johannes to see if it really was Ntima or not – the doubt arose as Ntima was up near the camp last night, and after a kill, couldnt imagine he had walked all this way. Joining Johannes it was soon evident that this leopard was Mondzweni male having a walk around, and after resting on some rocks, he wandered off south so we carried on back towards the lodge. Along the way, we saw kudu, impala, distant elephants swimming in Mbali Dam, giraffes and a group of buffalo bulls to round off a Big 5 morning for my guests.
Having had such a good morning, my afternoon was a more chilled affair and was spent in the north; around the camp a male giraffe made me certain that Machaton male leopard was still around the dam wall, but whatever was freaking out the giraffe couldnt be found by Difference and I, so we carried on and enjoyed kudu, impala and waterbuck before moving to the airstrip where we saw a lovely herd of elephants and spent time with them before an early drink at Lover’s Leap, with a view over the bush and a crocodile below. From there, we moved towards the lions hoping to get some action after dark, and although we almost saw a kill, there wasnt too much other activity (okay, the attempted kill was on a mouse that ran through the pride and almost paid for it!!!). Luckily for Andries and his guests, they did witness a kill when they located on Mondzweni male leopard near a buffalo herd on Java and the leopard killed a steenbuck before being chased off the kill by the buffalo! They lost interest and he returned to the kill, hoisting it safely up an apple leaf tree on the riverbank. Kevin also found the real Ntima male leopard near Argyle Dam to round off yet another productive day of game viewing.