Leopard Kill on Karula Main

On a morning drive I decided to head to an area where a Leopard was spotted the night before, I was quite optimistic that we would be successful as she had an Impala kill, we searched high and low but to no avail, only the remains of the Impala, we were disappointed and decided to leave the area and search for other game and return later that morning, after a successful morning of viewing other game, we returned hoping our luck would change. we scanned the area for about 45 minutes, when we saw a cub’s head peeping through the grass, I pointed it out to my guests who by this time could not contain themselves with excitement, as I explained about Leopards and their behavior my tracker Alfred pointed out the female who was only about 15m from her cub, we could not believe our luck, Impala’s were alarm calling, scattered and leaped in all different directions, the female had disappeared in the grass for a few seconds and to our astonishment leaped out of the grass to grab a fleeing Impala by it’s throat in midair, by this time my guests thought that they were dreaming by this amazing, unforgettable sight. We then moved in a bit closer with her eyes firmly set on us as she was still suffocating the Impala, it was all over for the Impala in a few minutes, her cub which is about 6mnths old playfully  joined in the feast. The Leopard kill was the topic of conversation back at the lodge for the next few days, but will definitely stay in my mind for a very long time.           

By: Clive – River Lodge Ranger

(Video) Cheetah on our doorstep…

It is often that adjectives  like “awesome”, “wonderful” & “incredible” find their way onto this blog because of all that nature’s got to offer. Not always though does it describe the truly “UNBELIEVABLE” occurrences that sometimes happen…

Two days ago me and Westley were standing just outside the Kapama Lodge main entrance door when we suddenly heard the herd of Impala going ballistic were they were grazing happily just minutes ago. We immediately knew something was up, as you could hear by their alarm snorts that they were deeply distressed. We were aware of a female Cheetah in the vicinity of the lodge, and we had some idea that they might just have spotted her…. Nothing however could prepare us for what happened next…

As we tried to figure out which direction the Impala were looking, they suddenly just scattered in all directions in full flight. Me and Westley stood there not knowing if we should maybe also run amids all the chaos. It was then when we spotted the cheetah coming from the bushes towards the door and immediately she targeted a young impala lamb that managed to make it’s way toward the lodge onto our driveway.  The cheetah did not stop her charge because of our presence and got a hold of the poor impala lamb who desperately tried to free it self from the firm strangle hold in which the cheetah had it.

In true cheetah style the impala lamb was dismissed quickly and efficiently and she immediately started dragging the carcass away to the bushes just opposite the lodge where they found her later on drive, thoroughly enjoying  her “not so hard earned” meal.

This whole incident lasted mere seconds but it took us almost half an hour getting over the hysterical laughs and total dis- believe at what we just witnessed. As luck would have it, Suzette  had been playing around with a video camera that day and above all odd’s happen to be at the right time and the right place to capture the last moments of this truly amazing incident…

Just shows again that you never know what is going to happen next in the African bush.

Johan Esterhuizen

Lions and Leopards and Ground Hornbill Oh My!

We have been having rain on and off for almost two weeks now. It is unusual to have so much rain so late in the season but it will keep the veld green and thriving farther into winter. Even with all the rain, and thus no off-roading for our cats, we have been having great sightings. My guests and saw two Spotted Hyena and four Lionesses the other evening and ended with a brief sighting of Mbilo’s, (one of our best Leopards), last remaining cubs.

The following morning saw us tracking and finding one of our very pregnant White Rhinos and her older calf followed by an exciting sighting of our large male Lion chasing two of our sub-adult Lions around until he was to tired to carry on and laid down in the middle of the road panting. Last night was filled with trees and birds of all sorts and even with the heavy drizzle we came across a large Journey of Giraffe, another female Rhino and her calf and topped off with a very pleasurable sighting of Mbilo’s cub jumping around, playing, and stalking a herd of Buffalo.

 This morning we were blessed with more Buffalo and a relaxing visual of half of our herd of Elephants browsing and playing. We stumbled upon a female Ground Hornbill trying to feed her youngster a snail she had broken out of the shell and finished off the cold windy morning with a great viewing of an Osprey.

By: Noelle DiLorenzo – River Lodge Ranger

A Good Evening for Safari

Tonight’s safari started out really well, not too far away from the lodge we found three lions just relaxing in the middle of the road close to them was a couple of buffalo’s keeping a close eye on them.

The general game was plentiful with the Big 5 popping up around almost every corner.

The highlight of the evening must have been when one of the rangers tracked and found a female leopard with a fresh kudu kill, whilst in the sighting the leopard was joined by an old female hyena that was also interested in the leopards kill. Usually the leopard would abandon her kill with the presence of hyenas, or at least she would try and take it up a tree but the kudu was quite large, so she had cached it under a bush. The hyena must have smelled it and came looking as the sun started to set. While the hyena poached her meal, the young leopard sat and watched under a tree, both being wary of the other. Fantastic sighting for myself and my guests!

Another great drive on Kapama!

By: Wayne Lubbe – River Lodge Ranger

Big Cats of Africa

The last few days we’ve been very fortunate with the viewing of the bigger cats of Kapama. Lions have been seen on almost every game drive and the leopards also graced us with their presence.

One of the resident female leopards has been spotted everyday for the last week. She’s had two different impala kills within meters from each another. This was heaven on earth for most guides as they are one of the most difficult cats to find. Just about everyone got to see this illusive spotted cat and her 8 month old cub feeding and playing like there was no one watching.

Although we’re lucky enough to still see lions and leopards in this area, there are many places in Africa where their numbers are very low. Lion numbers have dropped from 450,000 to 20,000 in the last 50 years. If these numbers keep on dropping we will soon only look at these magnificent animals on television or in books.

Conflict with humans is the most critical threat currently facing wild populations of big cats. Research has revealed that this conflict is partly driven by livestock depredation, which can be very damaging for poor households, but also by little knowledge about big cats.

We can only hope that things will change in the near future and keep educating people on the importance of these animals. Luckily there are still reserves like Kapama that serves as some sort of protection for them. Every time I gaze upon one of the big cats I consider myself lucky.

Roan Ravenhill