Elephant Plains Safari: Leopards Feeding, Drinking, Posing, Yawning – and Killing!

News from Villiers:

(Images from back of Villiers’ Camera)

To cover a little more area this morning we decided that our Tusk vehicles would go in different directions – one to the hyena den to catch up with the activity there, and one to the Tsalala Lions to see if they have decided to move or hunt.

Not far from Big Dam we found Salayexe’s tracks, and left our trackers to do what they do best while we continued on to Big Dam. We passed a rocky cleft – a place named Landcruiser Crossing where plenty of huge rocks dominate the scene.

We Asked everyone to examine the rocks very carefully for leopards, and we drove really slowly, peering earnestly at every leaf, branch, outcrop and stone. We had passed the rocks when one of our guests, Stephanus, said ‘Wait! I think maybe there was something!’

So we reversed, out came his and our binoculars – and we intensified our scrutiny – and can you believe it! There was Tiyane! Salayexe’s daughter was standing right next to the rocks … and only Stephanus has spotted her.

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We had a wonderful time with her as she posed, yawned in the lovely morning sunlight … until suddenly she looked up! What was that? A duiker apeared in the distance and she immediately started to stalk it. We followed at a distance through the bush and the little leopard managed to get within 5 meters of the duiker before it spotted her and hurtled away. Gone!

We left her in the thicket when we heard of another young leopard – a female just two years old, named Nchila – one of Nsele’s daighters. She was only named very recently and it was a real treat to see her. She is beautiful, and although she is not quite as relaxed as Salayexe or Tiyane, very few of the leopards are that welcoming. Nchila had a half eaten impala carcass in a tree and we watched her feeding before she jumped down from the tree right in front of us where we left her resting before we returned to the Lodge …

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… and headed straight back there this afternoon. And what an incredibly exciting afternoon we had!

As we approached Nchila was walking towards a pan for a drink, but stopped at a little mud wallow before the pan to drink, and we were in time to see her enjoying a long drink. We returned to the tree with the kill hoping that she would jump up the tree again, but no – she decided to lie down elsewhere.

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We enjoyed our final sundowners watching an Egyptian Goose with a brood of cute little goslings and took a group photo with dramatic blue clouds behind us.

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We decided to go back past the Lodge to Nyala Crossing where we had reports of fresh Leopard tracks, but as we headed there we received a call from the Lodge that they could see a leopard from there. We found Salayexe walking along the camp perimeter.

We followed as she walked along until suddenly, as if from nowhere, two big Spotted Hyenas appeared and chased her. She disappeared and it took us about 5 or 10 minutes to find her again – and now she was walking along really fast.

We kept up with her and to our surprise, without breaking her stride or going into stalking mode – in fact out of nowhere, she grabbed a Scrub Hare right in front of us.

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As the hare squealed the two hyenas did a u-turn and raced over to chase Salayexe again. She dashed up the nearest tree where she settled down to eat her kill, with two very disgruntled hyenas watching helplessly from ground level.

It was an incredible way for the final evening drive of the first safari to end. Imagine when the new arrivals hear about this tomorrow …