Posted by: tim ellis | December 29, 2012

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Leopard

The weather at first seems much like yesterday, although the sun almost succeeds in breaking through, and with a bit of imagination, parts of the sky could almost be called blue. We side-striped jackal almost as soon as we leave camp. He is looking towards Richard and Helen’s hut – we wonder what he is after. As we move away we see a second one – the side-striped is supposed to be less common than the black-backed, but we have definitely seen more of the former.

Anton has heard of a leopard which is in an awkward spot on private land and at the edge of the reserve. We are waiting to see if we will get the chance to see it when all of a sudden we get another call that it is behind us. Racing back down the hill we manage to pick it up as it crosses the road. It is a juvenile male called Wabayiza (“attitude”). We crash through the undergrowth, dodging overhanging branches and driving over dead wood on the floor as we alternately follow him or try to get ahead where we can wait for him to walk past again – eventually he heads off up a drainage ditch and we cut back to the road in an attempt to get around to where he is expected to exit, without success. He has obviously given us the slip.

Leopard

We stop for coffee, and all volunteer for the bush walk, which at this camp is done from the game drive back to camp before breakfast. However, we have only just restarted after coffee (still in the Safari van) when we suddenly re-encounter Wabayiza, heading back to where we first saw him. We follow again for a while, then agree to carry on driving and looking for leopards rather than walking, as our luck seems to be with us.

Which, indeed, it proves to be when another leopard decides to make an appearance and cross the road just as we are passing. This is Thandie (“lovable”) , Wabayiza’s mother. She is believed to have 2 young cubs, although they are not currently with her. Anton says she is quite tolerant of motor vehicles, but is a lover of dense undergrowth, so more off roadbranch dodging ensues as we follow her as far as we are able. Anton thinks she is heading towards a known lair in an old termite mound, so cuts round by road to try and get there first, but either she beats us back, or was never going there anyway, so after a short wait we start back to camp, when all of a sudden she reappears. We follow (off road again) for a short while before she enters an impenetrable section,at which point we really do head for home!

Leopard

Richard and Helen discover their roof has been disturbed, and bits of straw have fallen in. They notify the camp staff, who suspect a genet may have taken up residence (there has been one in that hut before). Maybe that’s what the jackal was looking for this morning? During the break we can add skinks, praying mantis, grasshopper and bearded woodpecker to the creatures that can be found around camp.

Grasshopper

The afternoon game drive starts out as an antelope spotting trip, with nyala, kudu and waterbuck all present. By the time we stop for drinks, although the sun hasn’t put in an appearance, there is definitely blue sky appearing.

We don’t find much by torchlight to start with, not even the obligatory chameleon, but then we encounter a lone elderly lioness sitting by the road. She is Gogo (“grandmother”), a member of the Styx pride, which apparently got split up a few days ago, and she has obviously lost touch with the others. She lets out a few load roars, but gets no response, so lies down again, and we leave her in peace.

Lion

As we approach the camp again we see both side-striped and black-backed jackal.

As we finish dinner we are treated to both an appearance of a hyaena on the outskirts of camp, and a display of traditional singing from the African staffs. Once the singing is finished we notice a number of jackal and the hyaena are all lurking about, and there is quite a lot of noise once we have retired.

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