The experience of a lifetime

Female leopard

The female leopard ran for safety into a tree and waited for the scavenger to leave the area

This evening started off quite cold and we did not expect to see much. It was an overcast evening and it got dark earlier than usual so we stopped for some drinks. Just as we were about to pack up the drinks we heard the call of a Leopard in the area. I asked the guests to jump in their seats so that we can try find this amazing animal.

We drove into the bushy area where the sound came from but we could not find her. Alfred, my tracker, and colleague, Kim, decided to make our approach back to the road with the hope that we might find her there. She was in the middle of the road and then moved off into the bush and we then followed her and lost her.

We found the female Leopard again and she approached a warthog hole. She tapped with her feet at the entrance of the hole and out came about four warthogs, one big female with her little ones. I am not sure how many they were. Everything happened so quickly. They were all over the place and confused the Leopard.

She missed three of them, one actually ran straight into her face and she didn’t manage to catch it. But, eventually, she killed one right in front of us and another just a little further away. After all this exhilarating excitement, we found a spotted Hyena coming along. It stole one of the Warthogs the leopard had killed so the female leopard ran for safety into a tree and waited for the scavenger to leave the area. She then slowly got out of the tree and made her way to the other kill which, during all this commotion, she managed to hide away from any threat. Finally she could enjoy her feast in peace and silence.

This was truly a once in a lifetime experience and we will remember this moment for the rest of our lives.

Janco Du Plessis
23/04/2012

Lions, Leopards, Hippos and Sunsets!

The last few days worth of game drive have included some fantastic sightings. Yesterday morning my guests and I were treated to two sub-adult Lions, one male and one female, sitting on a termite mound in the early morning sun posing for pictures. Several White Rhino were also encountered along with one lone Hippo and numerous amounts of Plains Game.

Last night, we tracked and viewed the herd of Elephants, leaving them only as the sun was setting in a brilliant orange glow. We then made our way up to view some Leopard, but as we got there they disappeared. For about thirty minutes we methodically and slowly circled the block until they got curious and came out to have a look. The young female Leopard stalked a Warthog in its den and then proceeded to eat what was left of a juvenile Impala kill while her brother dozed in the bushes.

This morning the same two Leopard treated us to a lengthy show of tag, hunting, and lazily meandering about until their mother called from the bushes and they ran off in search of her. Some refreshing coffee and hot chocolate was the enjoyed by the guests and we were off again in search of the male Lion who had been evading us for days. We were lucky enough to get to view him as he rested, walked, nuzzled the female, scent marked, and chased Impala.

As we made our way back to the lodge for breakfast a young male Hippo came strolling out of the bushes busy with his morning meal. What a fantastic few drives on Kapama!

Growing Up

Many many times I have been asked by guests why the animals do not run away, or attack, or act differently when we see them. My response is that the animals are used to us, which they are. We are part of their natural environment, their back drop of everyday life. With the cats, like Lion and Leopard, this takes great amount of time and effort by the rangers. With Leopard, if the mother is habituated, (used to the vehicles), then her cubs will be as well but if the mother is skittish then the cubs will be skittish.

This morning my Tracker Nick and I tracked and found two of our Leopards, the Hoedspruit male and female one and a half year old sub-adults. Their mother is not a habituated Leopard. She tolerates us from time to time but since the cubs were born we have been working with and viewing them and now, just as they’re about to set off into adult hood, they are getting more and more relaxed by the day. We were able to view them in bright daylight while they were relaxed, played, inspected us, groomed, and acted as young Leopards do. A few months ago they would have not been so relaxed. A second vehicle joined us in the sighting and they stayed relaxed, just moving from the sun into the shade. Again, a few weeks ago they would not have tolerated the second vehicle.

 For us, because we’ve watched these cats grow from tiny furballs into the gorgeous creatures they are becoming, it’s very much like watching your children grow up and it’s with pride and huge smiles that we enjoy sightings like my Tracker, Guests, and I had this morning.

By: Noelle DiLorenzo – River Lodge Ranger

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

Battle of the Super-Predators (and Rhinos to the Rescue!)

Yesterday morning my guests and I witnessed an incredible sighting. We heard audio of our large male Lion and went to investigate. As we got visual of the male and our largest Lioness we noticed a large male Leopard up a tree. Lions and Leopard do NOT get along. Lions will kill Leopard and Leopard cubs and Leopard will kill Lion cubs.

The two Lions were under the tree harassing and roaring at the Leopard. About three minutes later a Crash of three Rhino wandered into our sighting, a male and two female, and started chasing the Lions away. The Leopard jumped down out of the tree and tried to jump into another tree but missed. As the Leopard missed the Lioness grabbed the Leopard by the rump and the Rhino came and chased the Lion off again.

The Leopard ran off, perused by the Lions the whole while. He climbed another tree trying to escape but only reached a small branch where he was very uncomfortable. The Lions started roaring again and the Leopard jumped down and there was nowhere to run, being caught between both Lions. The male Lion caught the Leopard but the Leopard fought back. Then again the Rhinos chased the Lions and the Leopard managed to escape and run off into the bush!

 

An incredible, once in a lifetime sighting at Kapama that my guests and I will never forget! (Thank you Sebastian for the FANTASTIC photos to add to our story!)

(Above: My VERY happy and excited guests.)

By: Michael Mabuye – River Lodge Ranger

Leopard Delight

Each game drive is different and there are some that can blow your mind. At Kapama these game drives are frequent. There is one however, that stands out. It started out like any ordinary afternoon drive with goal of finding the elusive leopard. We had a starting point; fresh tracks we found in the morning looked very promising. The tracks were roughly 20 minutes from camp so we didn’t have too much time to waste. We made a bee line straight for the tracks. We were only 15 minutes from camp when I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye I slowed down to take a second look. It took a moment to register that I was looking at female leopard 20 meters off road. She was heading into the bush. We followed her off road as she casually meandered through the bush. She noticed something in the distance, a breading herd of impala she went into stalking mode and slowly nudged her way forward, everything was in her favour. She stopped and went ‘flat cat’ and waited for the impala to come to her. It took about half an hour for the oblivious impala to be two meters from her, and everyone thought “this is it” and I still go to bed and wonder why she didn’t take down an impala its just one of those things you can’t explain, but an awesome thing to witness. The impala didn’t even know she was there, after the impala had passed she got up and moved off with us still holding our breaths!

By: Rob – River Lodge Ranger