Hennie van Heerden's Wildlife Diary

November 21, 2010

Spots everywhere!

Filed under: 2010,November — Hennie van Heerden @ 9:43 am

 Yesterday had been such a magnificent day and I was still dazzled by all the wonderful sightings we had when Matt and I took off in the morning. Fortunately for me, we were in between other guests and I had the car to myself the whole day (hurray!!)

I had woken up with the sound of lions roaring. It sounded not too far from camp and we decided to have a look if we could find them. As the roaring continued that wasn’t really hard. 2 Styx pride lionesses had joined up with the Blacknose Manyelethi male lion while his brothers were waiting just around the corner.  It was a bit strange as one of the lionesses was heavily pregnant and the other one was seen mating a couple of weeks earlier (although I’ve been told that the success rate of lion mating ending in pregnancy isn’t that big). But in this case it might well be that the lionesses lured the 4 brothers away from the other members of the Styx pride, a very old lioness and 2 sub-adults, all vulnerable and likely to be killed by the brothers. Well it worked as a call came in through the radio that the these Styx lions were seen down south, so they were safe.

We heard that up North a coalition of 4 Cheetah brothers had been seen the previous day so we made our way there. Matt already warned me that they might well have gone back to Kruger but as we arrived much to our suprise one of the brothers was lying on the road! No sign of the other 3

though. Unfortunately, after just a minute or so, the Cheetah stood up and wandered off straight across the border with Kruger where Mala Mala vehicles are not allowed. Well, at least we had seen one!
 In that area up north there is also a Black-backed Jackal den. Last year they had several cubs but now only one. The cub was nowhere to be seen but the adults were there. They look like friendly little doggies 🙂 Must admit that on seeing them I was feeling a bit homesick for my own two dogs at home.. We also found a Lilac Breasted Roller nest in a dead tree and spent some time there trying to capture it in flight, but the birds invariably fly off away from you. In previous year I’ve never managed to get a good one flying.

When we slowly made our way back to camp another suprise stepped out of the bushes; leopard! It seemed that we had a lucky stroke with leopards the last couple of days as we had found several of them ourselves. It’s always nice to be the one to spot leopards in stead of following up a call on the radio. In this case it was a beautiful big male leopard and it turned out to be the son of the Matshipiri Female. As he doesn’t have an own territory yet, he hasn’t got a ‘real’ name yet, as the leopards in Mala Mala are named after their territories. And in this case it might well take another while before he’ll have a proper name as this pampered 3-year old is still living with his mom! She does all the hunting and the little brat just lies around lazily waiting for her call and than eats the majority of the prey, leaving almost nothing for her! But he is stunningly beautiful so I baptized him ‘the Italian’ as he reminded me of an Italian ex boyfriend of mine: a great looker, but an utter momma’s boy, impossibly spoiled who stayed living with his parents until he was well in his thirties and than I got him… (I hope he doesn’t read this 🙂

As if the morning hadn’t been eventful enough we were treated to a delightful sighting; a mother White Rhino with a tiny little baby. The moment they saw us they ran off but I got one quick shot of them. So cute!! What was not so cute but still special to see was a male Boomslang crawling through the grass, also allowing me only one shot before it moved off.

Quite an eventful morning game drive I would say!! Little did I know that the day would only get better and better..

As we had the car to ourselves, Matt and I went off straight after lunch, in stead of me taking a little nap as normal guests do.(Guess I’m every ranger’s nightmare.. 🙂
But immediately after we drove out of camp, a call came in; the camp manager and a few rangers were at work in the bush and had just seen the Kikelezi Female leopard making a kill! We knew she had a cub and would more than likely call her daughter ‘for dinner’ so while we kept radio contact on her whereabouts, we rushed to the sighting.
When we arrived the beautiful leopard was indeed searching for her daughter, softly calling and walking through thick bush, which didn’t make it easy to follow her. After a while of ploughing through shrubs and branches we suddenly saw her pricking up her ears and there she was! The reunion of mother and daughter was fantastic to see. They greeted each other as if they hadn’t seen each other for ages.

Together they went off in the direction of where the Kikilezi Female had hidden the kill. At a small pool they stopped and had a drink. What a fantastic sight to see these two beautiful creatures reflected in the water. This is what you hope to see when you go on safari!

 Meanwhile 2 more vehicles had joined us and as the two leopards continued their walk towards the prey, we all followed as quietly as we could. As yesterday, while the mother was constantly alert and watched out for dangers, the baby sort of danced along, playfully biting her tail. And than it happened… An excited whisper went from car to car: “Impala!”. A mother and baby Impala had seperated themselves from the safe(r) herd and were walking through the bush as the two leopards approached. The Kikilezi Female immediately went on her haunches in stalking mode the second she spotted the Impala. Matt and I had one car in front of us and the driver of that vehicle hadn’t seen what went on. Matt didn’t hesitate for a second and stepped on the accelerator, steered around the stationary vehicle in front of us, exactly at the moment the leopard leaped forward and grabbed the baby Impala. She caught it!! Right next to the car. Within 10 seconds it was all over for the little Impala.

While mom was resting after the two kills she made within half an hour, the cub did some killing practice with the prey; picking it up, throwing it down again, jumping right on top of it and ferociously shaking it, after each ‘kill’ showing it to mom “Look ma, I killed it once again!” 🙂 For some people maybe hard to watch, but I guess leopards cannot afford the luxury of sentiments over food..

This fantastic and thrilling sighting brought the day to an end. Unbelievable that we saw the Kikilezi Female ad her daughter two days in a row!!



1 Comment »

  1. die laatste foto van die zonsondergang….da’s toch pure magie…….lijkt me echt dat als je dit meemaakt dat je echt ademloos even bent….

    Comment by nldazuu — February 5, 2011 @ 8:03 pm | Reply

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