FROM TREVOR MCCALL-PEAT & VILLIERS STEYN
A new group of guests descended onto Djuma Private Game Reserve, including some familiar faces who were returning for another Big Cat Safari and the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2017 winner. After a light lunch and briefing, everyone could not wait to get into the bush. The updates over the past few days had all our guests very excited to get into the action.
We headed out in search of some big cats and went to the area that we had seen Tingana and Thandi mating yesterday morning. We found their tracks but it seemed that the cats had crossed over our southern boundary into an area we cannot traverse. We carried on searching for signs of any leopard in the area. Along the way, we had a great sighting of a Martial Eagle and photographed some ox-peckers on the back of some rhino.
We then headed into Torchwood where a pride of lions had been seen. We were told that it was the Torchwood Pride but upon arrival we realised it was the Nkuhuma Pride, 5 females and 6 cubs. They were flat cats and were very sleepy. We decided to stay with them in the hope they would become active as darkness fell. They cooperated, and, as if an alarm had gone off, they woke up in unison. They rubbed heads and yawned and put on a great show for us. Once it was dark enough we turned on the spotlights and followed them as the sauntered down the road. This gave our guests an opportunity to practice their Manual camera settings to get some back-lit and side-lit shots.
This morning we headed out and decided to commit to searching for leopards. We searched close to camp and soon found tracks of a female leopard. The tracks crossed our boundary and we decided to then try and find Mvula in the north. We soon found his tracks but they crossed into the Manyeleti Game Reserve. We then received a call that tracks of two leopards were found in the south east.
We headed in that direction and, before we reached the area that tracks were found, we bumped into Thandi and Tingana in the road. Wow! We followed them through some dense bush before the two spilt up. We believe that their mating cycle is now finished. We decided to stick with Tingana and left Thandi. He posed nicely for us on the side of a termite mound and our guests also had multiple opportunities to take walk-by images of him. We were also extremely fortunate to witness Tingana chasing a scrub hare at full speed. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for the hare, he was unsuccessful. After spending an hour and a half with Tingana, we left him be and headed to First Rock for a coffee stop.
After coffee, we made our way back to the lodge for brunch, post-processing and digital photography sessions with our guests.