27 September 2017

We went to bed last night as the wind picked up and it didn’t subside all night, and the morning was a cold, blustery day, but at least it meant that we had a good chance of seeing some fat leopards! I headed straight south to go and see if Mondzweni male leopard was still with his steenbuck kill, and we passed some lion tracks coming back into the central regions, but opted not to follow up this morning – well also passed a lone elephant bull, some impala and kudu as we headed to Java. Arriving in the area of the kill, we saw a drag mark going down into the riverbed, and on following up, found Mondzweni with another kill; this time a female impala that he had hoisted up a russet bush willow as he rested on the bank. The giraffes seemed concerned about something further north near his other kill, but on investigating, we found nothing, not even the steenbuck that we assume he finished already. After this, we tracked down a herd of buffalo that had tracks for one male lion behind them, but although we found the 150-odd buffalo, we found no male lion. A wild dog (or more like an anti-poaching dog with the reserve rangers) and a herd of zebras followed before we headed on our way back north, we got to see a couple of rhinos grazing but with early check-outs, we didnt spent too long with them. Carrying on, we saw a few kudus and waterbuck before passing the five members of the Western Pride of lions that were resting off their fat bellies following a waterbuck kill last night, although by morning, only the hyenas were found finishing off the kill. This wasnt the only victim of the windy night, and both Ntima male and Tshwukunyana male leopards were found with their own impala ewe kills up in marula trees less than 400m apart! It was another Big 5 morning for me, and considering how poor windy mornings usually are, this was a real treat!

The afternoon saw us getting a new group of guests, and we were spoilt for choice – Mondzweni male leopard was in the south, Ntima and Tshwukunyana male leopards in the north, the lions and more. We began in the north in windy conditions and after impala, waterbuck and a curious hyena, we arrived to find the Western Pride had not moved at all during the day, and in the time with them, they didn’t look too energetic, so we moved on and spent time with some kudus before heading towards Ntima male leopard who was resting up a marula tree with his impala kill as a couple of hyenas milled underneath. After a while, he began feeding and we moved on to check up on his brother, but Tshwukunyana wasnt in the mood to do much, so we left him in peace and moved back to the lodge. Chané found Inkanye female leopard not too far from the lions to round off a good cat afternoon in the north; much better than we normally get in such windy conditions!