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Djuma Photo Safari

Lion Cubs at Play in the Sabi Sand Reserve …

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Dawie Has a Bumper Day with Big Cats on the Djuma Photo Safari:


We decided not to head to Thandi and cub this morning. We decided to try to find the male leopard again.however, we found no signs of his whereabouts, and as we were not far from them, we thought that a visit to the Torchwood lions with their giraffe remains would be a great choice.

Our time with the pride was so phenomenal that we could not drag ourselves away.

We sent the entire morning with them. The male was definitely interested in one of the females, and made amorous overtures, hoping to mate with her soon.

Meanwhile, the little Cubs that had been a little shy when we last visited, have become accustomed to our vehicle, and were relaxed and playful around us. They spent time around the vehicle, tumbling about and using the vehicle for a game of hide and seek.


It was a phenomenal sighting and just when we thought it could not get any better, the mother of the Cubs went onto a termite mound in clear, unobstructed view, and settled down to suckle the three Cubs. Aaah! It is simply wonderful!

From there we decided to quickly drive past for a check on Thandi. To our delight we found her out of the tree, and on a mission. She moved downstream along a ravine, and although photography was a challenge at times when she moved through bushy areas, it was exciting to follow her and it was the best possible way to end our safari.

After our amazing trip, and the fantastic photos we have accumulated everyone is looking forward to another Tuskphoto safari to this area that keeps on delivering …




We Follow Up With the Leopards at Sabi Sand Reserve …

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Dawie Checks on Thando and her Son on the Djuma Photo Safari:


Or morning drive started with our planned visit to the Thandi, the leopard and her cub. They were still very busy with their duiker kill, and took turns feeding as the carcass dangled somewhat precariously from high up in the tree.


We had enough time to practice different camera settings, a variety of  photographic styles, zoombursts, wide angles, flashes, motion blur, different shutter speeds, and some innovative artistic effects as well. The leopards kept us really busy as they climbed up and down the tree, took turns at the remains, rested close those together, and gazed around at all the different sounds emanating from the bush. We were luckily able to spend the entire morning with them.

In the afternoon we went in search of other animals, and were happy to photograph a number of elephants, Plains game everywhere, that included many zebras and giraffe. We stopped for a single hyena before we decided to check on Thandi and cub again.

We arrived to find Thandi in the tree with the dwindling remains. We spent about 45 minutes there, and marvelled at her really distended belly. She has eaten really well on the carcass that is surely beginning to decay.


Taking a slow meander back to the camp we were alerted to the presence of a male leopard in the vicinity. We tried to locate him without much luck.


We have many different exciting photographs to process during our Lightroom session in the morning …



Our First Leopard Encounter Back at Sabi Sand Reserve …

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Dawie Meets Thando and her Son on the Djuma Photo Safari:


The morning started with a hunt for leopards. We followed tracks, that culminated in a visit to the hyena den where we could see the clan members feasting on some remains. There wasn’t enough left to identify the animal, but there were enough clues to show what had happened. The leopard that we were tracking had made a kill, but the hyenas purloined it soon after – certainly before the leopard had a chance to stash his prize in a tree. They ate with gusto!


We saw Plains animals almost at every turn, including the most giraffe that I have ever seen in this area. We spotted at least four or five large herds in the time that we drove around.


We returned to Djuma Camp, a little disappointed that we had not found that elusive leopard, but happy to have been on his trail. And we had some great pics of the hyenas enjoying the leopard’s meal!


The afternoon proved that perseverance does reap rewards.

We tracked a male leopard that was reported during the day. However, he moved out of the area and we decided to try the area where Thandi lives and hunts. Just then we received a call. Thandi and her cub had been spotted. She had caught a duiker and was leading her cub to the kill.

We dashed to the spot where we rewarded with some fabulous views and photo opps of the two leopards. The duiker was stashed in a tree and Thandi allowed the cub to feed first. We remained with them as long as possible and were gratified with our beautiful photo collection.

No-one could ask for a better day in the bush, and we look forward to visiting the leopards again in the early morning – before daybreak …



Back at Sabi Sand Reserve …

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Dawie Shares His Wonderful Experiences from the Djuma Photo Safari:


Sabi Sand Reserve welcomed us with a much needed downpour! Rain is so essential here, and the refreshing, cleansing drizzle set the tone for our first drive. It has been rather dry here for years, and seeing the dams filling up was a joy. The Plains animals looked wonderful as they dripped in the wetness.


We heard a male lion calling again and again from the moment that we arrived at Djuma, and then finally we found him – a male lion that sat there in the rain. We struggled a bit to photograph him with our wet camera gear, but when he let out an almighty roar it was fabulous, magnificent and worth every moment.


Next morning was still a little damp when we set out, but there was no dampening of spirits. It didn’t take long to find a pride of lions. They were feeding on a buffalo kill, and we spent ages collecting photographs and watching the interaction between the members of the pride.


We moved on to photograph a herd of elephants before we returned to the Lodge.


The afternoon drive was one that we all dream about – especially when away from the bush for as long as we have been.


It stopped raining and the excitement started when we came across a pride that is seldom seen here – the Torchwood Pride. They were accompanied by the large Kruger Male, and three small Cubs. They were busy at a giraffe kill –

– and at first the little ones were very nervous – after all, they have not really seen us in the reserve for the entire three months that they have lived. They stared, peered, examined us from all angles, giving us some adorable photographs.

After an amazing time with the lions we drove around a little before it was time to return to the camp.

An excellent start after the very long break …


Back at Sabi Sand Reserve our first Game Drive Gets off to an Excellent Start …

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Dawie Shares His Day from the Djuma Photo Safari:

The Sabi Sand Reserve that forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park seldom fails to delight, and every trip to the area finds one filled with anticipation and wonderful expectations.

We all arrived at Djuma by lunchtime, and after welcoming back returning guests and greeting first timers we had a quick briefing and were ready to set out for our first game drive.

The day was cloudy and cool but there was no rain during our drive. Not having a specific plan in mind we started to loop around. There were frequent stops for Impala, Kudu, and other Plains animals. We saw plenty of elephants but after a few artistic approaches to our photographic techniques we moved on, hoping to find one of the big cats that frequent the reserve.

We searched around stopped to photograph a hyena drinking water at a dam. It was

late afternoon – before sunset when we found a female leopard sleeping on a termite mound. This was quite unusual because the wind was quite strong, and the cat made no attempt to find shelter from the discomfort. However this was good news for us as we were able to spend quite a while with the leopard. We photographed her against a sky that changed from deep blue to almost violet before night took over completely. We used flash and then spotlights as the light faded to capture our subject perfectly. She was very cooperative and posed beautifully in all the time that we spent with her.

After a very satisfying start to our safari we celebrated with an amusing evening of anecdotes and stories back at the camp. Everyone tumbled into bed quite early in preparation for an early start in the morning …

What A Day – Cheetahs, Lions, Leopards …

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Dawie Shares from the Djuma Photo Safari:

What a Day! Wow! Wow!

Because we know that there are resident prides of lions around here, our aim when we set out in the predawn darkness was to locate one of them. We checked the boundary into the Kruger Park to make sure that any cats in the area had not crossed over to where we could not follow them.

While driving along we saw massive herds of zebra and wildebeest in the acres and acres of open Plains. We were photographing a herd when a nearby ranger called to alert us to the possibility of two cheetahs that seemed to be heading in our direction. We decided to intercept the cheetahs.

On the way to the cheetahs we passed a huge herd of buffalos, but we didn’t linger. We reached the area where we believed the cheetahs would arrive and waited. Not for long. It was just a few moments before the cheetahs arrived on cue. A mother cub with her cub moved along on the early morning light. They looked spectacular. It was such a treat to see them as they passed in and out of the dappled light. Magical is the word!

The cheetahs checked around as they progressed, looking for something to hunt. They walked, climbed termite mounds and convenient logs for a good look around.

After that we returned to our earlier search area to check again for lions. We saw fresh tracks of a pride with small cubs, and hoped to see them. Although we saw plenty of other animals, including more zebra and impala, there were no cats at all. At one of the waterholes there appeared to be a mass conference of almost 400 different animals and our cameras worked overtime again.

As the light was harsh at this stage we headed back to the camp for our midday break.

For our afternoon drive we first wanted to check the boundary for lions again, but or guide insisted that he knew where to find a male leopard. We passed plenty of Plains animals again, and then reached the area where our guide soon spotted the leopard. On closer inspection we noticed that the leopard was not only tiny, it was a young female. So instead of a male, we had found a female, – we assumed that our guide had been mistaken. But we were wrong.

The young leopard ignored us and gazed continuously and very intently away in one direction. She even ignored the buffalo that were a few short meters away. She could definitely see something, but what? We concluded that it was the male and started to loop around in an attempt to find him. Success! We found him in minutes if not within a few seconds. He was relaxing in longish grass, so we concentrated on the female instead.

The buffalo meanwhile drew too close for comfort on their way to a drink and the female leopard got up and headed away discreetly. She moved in the open across the dam wall, so after photographing her we waited at the dam to watch the buffalos. They wallowed, walked into the water, drank, splashed, created a huge dust cloud, and altogether created an amazing scene. With the setting sun shimmering through the dust and filtered through the leaves it looked breathtakingly beautiful.

We headed back to the male, and found him asleep. As the late afternoon gave way to nightfall he woke up and went to the waterhole. We positioned ourselves ideally to photograph him with his reflection as it created a perfect mirror image. The buffalo activities had created a number of small pools along the edge of the dam, and the leopard drank from one of the pools created by a hoof, leaving the mirror image crystal clear and without the smallest ripple of distortion.

The leopard then headed back in the direction of the Kruger National Park. We followed and then suddenly the still night air was shattered by the sound of lions calling very close by. We switched off our vehicle and sat quietly in the inky night. The moment he heard the lions, the leopard changed his demeanour and slunk away into a thicket.

We scanned the area and found a hyena less than 100 meters away. He was very nervous and we saw why when a young male lion charged through the bush with the sound of other lions close behind. The young male was being pursued by the other larger males. The lions were not relaxed, pumped full of adrenaline, and as our presence was clearly not welcome, we left them and returned to the camp. We would like to pick up their trail again in the morning …

A Peaceful but Busy Day in The Bush …

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Dawie Shares from the Djuma Photo Safari:

We wanted to find lions when we set out, and although we found many lions tracks that we started to follow we were distracted by a male and female leopard tracks and  followed these instead.

When we came across a huge herd of zebras we just had to stop. The various photographic opportunities as the herd moved about, creating shapes and patterns, could not be missed.

It was the day for large herds because it wasn’t long before we found ourselves photographing a herd of buffalo that numbered between 200 to 300.

There were elephants again, and we stopped again and again for photos of different Plains animals, including numerous busy impalas.

We returned to where we saw the leopard previously but he had made himself very scarce. Returning to the camp we stopped yet again – this time we had a good sighting of a Bateleur Eagle and had time for good images.

Our afternoon drive started again with a quick check for a leopard. This time we interrupted our search to photograph a rhino as he drank water at a small dam.

As we could not find any cats we gave up on them, and decided to take a slow, meandering drive back to the camp. We heard lions calling in the distance, and heard them again and again all through dinner. In fact, we would like to try to find them in the morning …

A Very Smart Leopard Uses Us …

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Dawie Shares from the Djuma Photo Safari:

Our first day at Djuma Lodge was great!

We were sitting at the Lodge, getting to know one another and having our briefing when we heard impalas alarm calling nearby. At Djuma there is  live camera at the dam, and Safari Live is always available. We checked and an earlier picture from the DamCam showed a female leopard in the area earlier. We went there and found the tracks of a young female that is frequently seen in that vicinity. We followed the tracks for a while but when they disappeared into a thicket we turned our attention to another sighting.

Having received reports about a male leopard we went there and were able to photograph him as he moved past the Lodge. He was terrific, and went through open areas, climbed termite mounds, and gave us some stunning walk-by’s. He liked to use the vehicle as cover as he walked and each time we pulled ahead, he walked directly towards us, and then past, with our vehicle forming a shield between him and any other game that he spotted. He even veered from his direct path to use us in this way. He really is one smart leopard!

Eventually we left him as he started to hunt in the darkness and we did not want to interfere and spoil his chances of success. We hope to find him again in the morning.

After leaving the male leopard we tried to locate another cat, but we stopped so often  for Plains animals and many elephants that we ran out of time and had to return to the Lodge. As planned, we would really like to find the male leopard again … hopefully he will have luck with his hunt …

Where did the Hyena Find that Python? …

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Dawie’s News from Djuma on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Safari:

Hoping to find a leopard again we left the Lodge early to find tracks. And again we could see tracks everywhere! Because we often chat to the Safari Live Guides we contacted them and found that within a radius of around 500 meters, four different leopards had passed during the night. So it was not surprising that we could see their tracks criss crossing again in all directions.

We tried to figure out which tracks were the most recent, and planned to follow these. Then we heard monkeys alarm calling, but we couldn’t find any predators lurking close to them. But our second vehicle did spot a single lion a little distance away. We photographed him, and during that time we heard kudus alarm calling and a few moments later the monkeys called out their warnings again.

This time we found very fresh leopard tracks, and the monkeys started to call frantically. We split up to form a pincer movement as we approached the area, and that payed off. We found the cause of the disturbance – a female leopard. She moved through and open area next to the Lodge. She made her way directly to the remains of an impala kill. We could not work out where it had come from? Had it been hers and hyenas stole it, and she wanted to claim it back? She continued to feed until there was nothing left.

The next moment the impalas started rutting next to the leopard, and as they were filled with adrenaline and concentrated only on the adversary in front of them, they were unaware that she was a few meters away. But she was too slow, and they finally did notice the lurking danger before she attacked, and they ran away.

Being our final full day we were determined to find another leopard. During our break at the Lodge we noticed a young bushbuck running all alone around the Lodge area. The mother was nowhere in sight, and we wandered if a predator had taken her.

A herd of elephants kept us amused and entertained for quite a long time. A youngster was full of energy and had lots of cheek. He dashed back and forth, ran up and down the road, and trumpeted his presence as he went. He was far too young and cute to be intimidating but he certainly tried! The reminder of the herd carried on feeding, relaxed and unconcerned as the youngster dashed around noisily.

We continued our drive, watching some fresh tracks and spotted drag marks across the road. Our tracker followed the drag marks and found a hyena and a dead python. Again we were unsure if a leopard had killed the python and the hyenas stole it. That was what the tracks and drag marks indicated, but we could not be certain. Whatever the story, we spent quite a while photographing the dead reptile.

We decided to return to the male lion that we saw in the morning. Soon he was up and started calling for his coalition partner. Then he got up and walked down the road, giving us numerous opportunities for wonderful photos. When he settled down again it was in an open area, where we could continue adding to our growing collection of spotlit images.

Tomorrow is our final morning at Djuma, and even if we don’t manage to find a leopard on that drive, we have been so very lucky, and our memory cards are filled with wonderful shots …

We Find Hosana, a Leopard with a Worldwide Following …

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Dawie’s News from Djuma on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Safari:


We searched for leopard tracks as we left the Lodge and followed them, but soon we found not a leopard, but two lions.

We decided to follow them instead. On the way we stopped briefly to photograph a rhino as he headed to water for a drink.

We were worried that the lions would stop moving around as the day warmed up and stuck with them while they were still active. To return later would probably be futile from a photographic point of view.

When we caught up with the pride they were lying around, and already not very active although the sun was not fully risen. We used spotlights and did manage to get some good shots as they settled down for a lazy day.

After that encounter we looped around, hoping to see leopard. Although there were zebras, giraffe, and rutting impalas, there was no sign of a leopard. As it is rutting season the impalas are really at it. The clash of horns, head banging and continual male challenges really presents a spectacle and we stopped many times to watch the fearsome duels.

During our break back at the Lodge we heard that a very famous leopard named Hosana was in the area so naturally as soon as we set out for our afternoon drive, we had one aim in mind – to find this leopard that has a worldwide following.

Soon after we left the Lodge spotted his tracks and our excitement increased. It was almost like going after a celebrity! We saw a rhino again but didn’t stop for longer than a moment because were keen to find Hosana. Then we heard squirrels alarm calling very close by. Excitement increased even more and we dashed to the sound – and there was one of the male lions that we spotted early in the morning. He strolled down the road and again we didn’t spend too much time with him. We were single-minded in our quest!

A call came through on the radio. What had they found? Ahhh good – the report was about a leopard. Yes! We thought. Hosana! We dashed there and found a beautiful young female that we have not seen before. We sat with her for a while, and were thinking of leaving and just then one of our safari guests said that he had glimpsed another leopard. We looked around, searched, scanned every bush and leaf, but no, nothing! And then suddenly a male leopard walked up – he appeared as if by magic in full view. Hosana! At last! Everyone was beyond excited and delighted. We managed superb images as he stared at the female. But the female was not keen on his male presence and she bolted away. Hosana went after her, simply keen to see who she was. He followed her for ages, until eventually he decided to rest near a riverbed.

As we sat there photographing the resting leopard we received a call from a nearby ranger to report a second male leopard heading directly to this spot. Just before he arrived he paused on top of a termite mound that gave us opportunities for very clear images. Then he started to move directly to the younger male. We waited in anticipation. To our surprise they had a minor standoff, but even more surprising, the older male showed no real signs of aggression. The younger male was quite submissive, and then ran into the bush.

We followed the younger male, taking fabulous photos as we progressed until it was time to return to the Lodge.

We really hope that the leopards remain in the area and that we can find them again in the morning …