Leopard kills & cubs

At Close Quarters

LIVE UPDATE from Villiers Steyn & Lance van de Vyver

Yesterday morning, we bid 6 of our guests farewell and welcomed 6 new guests on #BigCatPhotoSafari. As planned, yesterday afternoon we headed straight to where we had spotted Thandi and her cub in the morning. When we arrived we could not see any sign of either of the leopards. Luckily, the eagle eyes of one of our Specialist Guides spotted the cub resting on a termite mound. We could not see her mother but assumed she was resting nearby.

The light was beautiful and we parked a fair distance away, spending more than 60 minutes with her as she lay on the mound, sat up, posed and snarled at some birds who alarm called at her. When it began to get darker, we left the cub as we do not use spot light in such situations with young animals. What a brilliant start for our new guests and a wonderful experience for the guests who have been with us since day one!

We headed to Sussens dam for sun-downers where we were greeted by a dark and dramatic sky as some clouds rolled in. All of a sudden, a large elephant bull sauntered towards us. We thought we might have to get onto the vehicles and abandon our drinks but he turned and headed to the opposite bank of the dam. This allowed our guests to get some amazing low-angle shots of him and his reflection as he drank. He was later joined by another two elephant bulls who drank in the eerie twilight. 

We then headed back to the lodge and, on the way, one of our vehicles had a wonderful sighting of a Pearl-Spotted Owlet next to the road, which provided a wonderful photographic opportunity.

This morning we headed out on drive and decided not to immediately head to where we had seen Thandi yesterday. Instead, we searched around camp for big cat tracks. It rained during the night which made tracking difficult. However, we picked up on some fresh lion tracks and after 45 minutes of searching, found the Nkuhuma Pride bundled together next to the road. They were trying to keep warm. Once the sun rose the lions got up and moved around. We got some shots of this but the big cats soon retired to the cover of a bush and went to sleep.

We headed back to where Thandi was yesterday but only found her kill hanging in a tree. Her tracks led away from the area and some male leopard tracks found nearby may have been a clue of why she had moved off the kill. We headed to Buffelshoek Dam and found a herd of elephants playing in some golden light and got some great images of them. We also had a wonderful mongoose and francolin photographic opportunity.

Soon thereafter, we heard that a female leopard and cub had been found nearby and, after following up, we found Kuchava and her young cub on a termite mound. They posed beautifully for us on the side of the mound. Unfortunately, Kuchava’s kill which was hanging in a nearby tree, fell from the branches with a thud. She and the cub then dragged it into some thicker vegetation before hoisting it into another denser tree. 

The visual was not very good here. All of a sudden 4 spotted hyenas showed up, one with a bloody back from fighting. They skulked around but did not spot the leopards who hid away well. We decided to leave the leopards and headed back to the lodge for brunch and some photographic training. This afternoon we have various options as to what we will check up on.

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