I decided to head south on Sunday morning, hoping to have luck with Nthombi female leopard in the area of her den site, but upon starting drive, heard that she had already been located in the south, so off we went, not seeing a great deal on the cool morning – arriving south, some zebras, impalas and giraffes showed as we carried on towards where Nthombi was walking, but as she was moving in a difficult area, I had to hurry my approach, but we arrived to find her on the prowl that led to her dragging us through even trickier areas than I thought existed in that part of the reserve. We did our best to get good views of her, but most of her stopping and resting took place behind bushes and after almost an hour with her, we still weren’t being rewarded with great views, so we left her and made the long trip back. There wasnt too much out there this morning, but the wild dog den had been relocated, but sadly the same could not be said for the Timbavati Pride that appear to have been chased off by hyenas and then got chased by the Machimba male lions in the east.
This became my mission for the afternoon, and with some new guests, we headed straight east to go and drop Difference and Jacky off in the area where the pride’s tracks and supposedly been seen, but all they could see were tracks for the males, but they checked on them anyway. We carried on and our very quiet start was soon broken when we found eleven elephant bulls feeding out in the open and spent some incredible quality time with them – they came super close and one of the large bulls tusks even bumped against the vehicle as he passed us making for an unforgettable sighting! A pair of mating leopards had been found in the central regions, but for some reason it wasnt drawing much attention. Maybe it was because of the great Goya Rd male leopard sighting Brad and Dave enjoyed at Voël Dam, but as no one was going, I decided to head into that area. I had no sooner committed to going when Difference radioed to say that they had found the lions; stuck in two minds, I thought that I had better go back tot he lions considering the trackers’ efforts, so I swung around and went to meet them, and they led us into the bush, but the first view of the lion was when he came bounding out of the bush towards us! The Machimba male was in the company of the relaxed Sumatra lioness, but as they were in a thicket, it wasnt easy to see. We gave him space and tried to get a view from the northern side, but he came charging out of the thicket at us yet again, and that was when we decided that he was clearly not happy with us, and we closed off the area to any further visits. The fact that he had one of his lower canines hanging lose out of his mouth probably did little to aid his mood. We opted to go and try for the leopards, even though they had been left unattended, but with them mating, it was only a matter of time before they let us know where they were, and that was exactly what happened, and after hearing them mating twice, we managed to locate on Tshwukunyana male and Klakisa female as they did what is sometimes so difficult to witness. At night, she was super relaxed and we were treated to a couple of matings before a prowling hyena caused them to move, and in doing so, they flushed a scrub hare that Klakisa quickly pounced on and ran off with, Tshwukunyana trotting after her; although I think he was still more interested in her than the scrub hare as he when we caught up with them, he had actually let her settle and finish the hare in a few mouthfuls before the mating resumed and we left them resting under a sky full of stars to round off another rather superb drive!