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Sabi Sand Photo Safari

Sabi Sand Photo Safari: Salayexe with a Kill Visited by Hyenas …

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Hendri Reports from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains: Salayexe with a Kill Visited by Hyenas …

How wonderful it is to be back here at Elephant Plains in the Sabi Sand reserve. After checking in, a delicious meal, and a quick briefing we were more than ready to get going. There is always that sense of anticipation about the bush. Nature is always so very unpredictable and the forthcoming days could deliver … well, what? So it was with hope and anticipation, and cameras at the ready we set out for our first game drive on this safari –

We followed tracks belonging to Anderson, that huge dominant male leopard, but no, there was no sign of the actual animal. Then two more sets of leopard tracks taunted us and we followed each set until they also disappeared into long grass.

Just then, to our delight we found Salayexe, that indomitable female leopard that has become a familiar sight over the years. She had a kill that she dragged up into tree where it was barely visible. She flopped down to lie under a nearby Marula tree. We remained with her, taking dozens of photographs – until it was dark, when we took out our spotlights to capture more images of her, this time in the eerie dark of the night.

Hyenas arrived, and we thought OK, now for a confrontation! But Salayexe is a wise old lady and she retreated to a tree from where she gazed down at the frustrated hyenas below. It was a leafy tree, and wasn’t the best for photography, but we managed some decent stuff nonetheless.

In addition, we saw herds of elephants, and a very stately Kudu Bull that stood on a termite mound, looking around at his surroundings, and looking oh, so handsome.

We also saw the biggest Monitor Lizard that I have ever seen. We looked, blinked, looked again – surely that was a crocodile? But no! It was a gigantic Monitor Lizard! Wow!

Now we are back at the Lodge, enjoying our predinner drinks and thinking that we really should check on more leopard tracks again in the morning …

 

Sabi Sand Photo Safari: Salayexe Hunts, Wild Dogs Interrupt, Elephants Object …

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Kobus Reports from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains:

Our safari at Elephant Plains continued to be amazing right up to the last moment when we sadly had to bid farewell to this fabulous place – and the wonderful sightings. But we have our memory cards filled with images that many might envy …

So what did our last hours provide? …

After a successful visit to the Hyena Den,-

– we found Salayexe, that indomitable mother leopard that is so much an integral part of the Sabi Sand Reserve. We watched as she spotted a herd of impala, and we were totally impressed by her skill and stealth.

We held our breath, with hearts in our mouths as she crept closer and closer …

Then some very unsportsmanlike Wild Dogs arrived with a commotion and clamour that sent the impala scurrying.

To add to the noise and confusion, a nearby herd of elephants took umbrage at the presence of the Wild Dogs and they started to trumpet loudly, voicing their indignation in no uncertain terms as they chased the dogs away.

It was a spectacle to see, hear, and simply to be there and witness … another wow experience! With the huge commotion we didn’t get many images, but what a memory we have!

Our final sighting was of a lion pride, with the cutest little cubs suckling hungrily … it was a truly wonderful way to end our safari, and we all look forward to a return in the not too distant future …

 

Sabi Sand Photo Safari: Salayexe vs her Daughter – and a Second Surprise ..

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Kobus Reports from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains:

Well! Well! Well! Who would have believed it – I can hardly believe it myself! But let me start at the beginning of another stupendous day ..

As we left the Lodge this morning we found a Side-striped Jackal. Right there on our doorstep. We decided that that would be a portend of a great day ahead. And wow! It really was exactly that!

The hyena clan members were out in full force at the hyena den, giving us plenty of entertainment and so much to photograph that I saw filled memory cards being switched.

And today we saw four leopards. The most enthralling sighting was of Salayexe and one of her offspring.

They are each trying to claim the same territory, and the territorial battles can become quite fierce. Salayexe, ever the smarter and wiliest of leopards chased the young lady up a tree and then sat at the base, keeping guard and by the time we left she showed no sign of letting the youngster down to freedom!

And then – an unbelievable end to the day when we spotted a Pangolin again. Maybe it was the same one – we are not sure, but it was amazing to have two sightings of this rarely seen creature in just two days.

So as you can imagine, spirits here are very high, and we cannot help congratulating ourselves on the sightings and the amazing time we are experiencing …

Tomorrow is our final day here and we are all holding our breath – can another day possibly be as fabulous and successful yet again? …

Sabi Sand Photo Safari: One word Says it All – Pangolin!

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Kobus Reports from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains:

Well, today turned out to be a day to remember – and the photos to remember and to share!

Yes, we saw plenty of general game and predators again … the lions were there, and of course, being Elephant Plains we saw leopards as well – and that was all fabulous as always …

But that has all faded into insignificance with our evening sighting – a Pangolin! We can hardly believe our luck and that is all we are talking about … and it was a fabulous sighting! Not only did we see the Pangolin – it was in the clear and didn’t scurry away. So we were able to get as many images as we wanted.

So absolutely – we are all over the moon with the excitement of that sighting and as we gather for evening drinks before going into dinner, that is the only topic of conversation, with guests even phoning family and friends to share the amazing news.

I don’t think it matters any more what the remainder of our days here bring … our trip is a resounding success with this sighting and the wonderful images we have. So, let’s see if tomorrow can be a match …

 

Sabi Sand Photo Safari: A Young Leopard and a Crocodile …

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Kobus Reports from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains:

We left the Lodge this afternoon after everyone arrived for lunch and a briefing. We were filled with so much anticipation … would our drive for this first safari be as fabulous as all the other days? What would we see? And wow! Did Elephant Plains ever deliver! We could not have asked for more … as our first drive seriously delivered the goods …

First, besides all the general game, we found a young female leopard busily consuming the remains of an impala kill. And as if that were not enough, we saw a movement in the long grass. What? There was her little cub, hiding away while mom consumed her meal! What a sighting.

We left the sighting, and almost immediately we bumped into Hozanna – a young male leopard.

We followed as he walked to a nearby dam. There the young leopard spotted a a crocodile lying on the dam wall. Was it in his way? What would he do? We all held our breath and excitement mounted as Hozanna went into stalking mode. Closer and closer he crept up to the basking crocodile. We could hardly believe our eyes. Seriously? All our cameras were trained on the action as he went ever closer. Then suddenly the crocodile sensed or heard the approaching danger, and he slithered away to safety! Whew! We were shaking for quite a while after that –

We also visited Shadow, another young leopard mom, hoping to see her and her cub, but there was no luck there.

When we found a pride of lions on the move we followed them until they settled in a riverbed. Once the adults were settled, the cubs put on a great show for us as they played, chased each other, pounced on each other and on the adults, and rolled around in the soft sand. It was wonderful!

We are back at the Lodge now, with everyone very happy and excited that they have already seen so much. What could tomorrow bring …

Sabi Sand Photo Safari: An Entire Morning and Evening with Salayexe – and then a Kill…

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Ben Reports from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains:

(Photos from back of Ben’s Camera)

Another stupendous day awaited us when we set out this morning for our morning game drive.

It all started when we found a herd of giraffe on the airstrip close to the Lodge. They looked quite magnificent against that early sunrise-red sky and we were able to capture some outstanding shots as the animals walked along sedately. We used flash to illuminate the giraffes against that beautiful background … fabulous!

We were still photographing the giraffes when we heard that Salayexe had been spotted and we dashed off to meet up with her. We remained with the lovely leopard for most of the morning. She was patrolling her area, sniffing bushes, scent-marking, and walking along doggedly to cover her entire territory.

It was really special to spend almost the whole morning with Salayexe as she went about her catlike business, and we only left her when it was time to return to the Lodge.

This afternoon we headed out to follow up on reports of a male leopard that we heard about during our lunch break. We searched for quite some time and although we didn’t find him, we did come across a large male White Rhino that came down to a water-hole for a drink. We photographed him with his reflection in the water, and because he had a number of Oxpeckers on his head we also did a lot of close-up shots, especially when they flew around whenever anything disturbed them.

We searched for the leopard again, but gave up when our second vehicle called to say that they had located Salayexe again.

We joined them and arrived in time to see her watching something very intently. It was a Scrub Hare. She hunted it and then suddenly she went for it and caught the hare right in front of us. It was all over in a flash! Then she carried the hare, and we were close enough to get full-frame head shots as well as body shots.

Salayexe then proceeded to eat most of the hare, and she was almost done when a hyena approached – clearly interested in her catch – and she escaped up a large Jackalberry tree. We photographed the few remnants of the kill while Salayexe, up in the tree, started a long grooming session – and only when satisfied that she had done a thorough job, she came down the tree again. We photographed her descent from the tree and realising that it was time to return to the Lodge we came back for dinner.

Our final game drive for this group takes place tomorrow morning, and we are all hoping against hope that the luck we have experienced in the last days holds yet again, and that we have plenty to share with the new arrivals expected by lunchtime …

Sabi Sand Photo Safari: More Leopards and Even More Lions …

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Brendon’s News from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains:

When we set out early this morning we decided to start by driving around to see what we could see. There was lots of general game with the giraffes and zebras looking particularly striking in predawn greyish light.

On the nearby airstrip we found a few hyenas. They were having such fun as they chased each other around, rolled around on top of one another, and generally enjoyed a hilarious time while giving us plenty to photograph.

We searched for leopard tracks but didn’t see any around here. In fact we were still checking when we received a call to inform us that a young male leopard had been spotted in the eastern part of the reserve. We shot out that way and found the young fellow lying on a termite mound where we were able to get some lovely shots, including some good portraits. We spent quite a long time with the young leopard as he lay there, relaxed, but alert.

When we left the leopard we bumped into a large male lion. He was lying on a dam wall, and although we couldn’t get very close, we had a good view and ended up with decent photographs.

By now it was time to return to the Lodge for a rest and a meal, and when we set out again this afternoon for our game drive we headed back towards the east.

On the way we encountered another male leopard and stopped to photograph him as he lay sprawled out in the road. He was very cooperative and we remained with him until he decided to disappear into one of the thickets.

We moved on to see if we could find the young male leopard from this morning. We found his tracks, but there was no sign of the young cat.

 

Not much later we found the pride of lions with their cubs that we saw yesterday. When the lionesses moved over to a small water hole for a drink, the reflections in the water looked quite perfect, which meant that we we all able to get some superb shots.

Heading back towards the west we found another pride of lions. As it was dark we were able to use our spotlights for backlighting, side-lighting, rim-lighting as well as some awesome portraits.

So another fabulous day finds us back at the Lodge, enjoying our pre-dinner drinks and looking forward to a sumptuous dinner under the stars.

And tomorrow I think we will simply take our chances again and see what appears out of the bush …

Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour: Predators at Etosha …

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Wim’s News from Halali in Etosha on the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour …

(Photos from Hendri Venter)

Well, as we said in our previous blog, we left Swakopmund early for our long drive up to Etosha, where we are now. The drive was long, through different towns, and it was well worth it! The amount of game in Etosha seems to have increased dramatically since we were here a few weeks ago. The late rains have attracted large numbers of animals to the area.

On the way to our camp we saw plenty of plains animals and when we took a quick detour to the Salvadora waterhole a heavily pregnant lioness walked right across the road right next to us to go for a drink of water at Salavdora. The beautiful, golden late afternoon sun was just perfect for photography and our cameras, ever-ready were kept busy.

From there we carried on the the Rietfontein waterhole where found our first Black Rhino. He came down to the water for a drink and then strolled around the area.

After settling into our comfortable chalets at Halali we enjoyed dinner and then sank into bed.

Early this morning we were up and immediately headed out to the Salvadora vicinity. On the way we saw a number of animals, including hyenas and Black-backed Jackal, and when we reached the pan we drove around the water. There we found four lionesses all lined up. We spent some time with them. The were a little far for real close-up shots, but we managed some good stuff.

Then on to Rietfontein. A Cheetah was spotted on the Rhino Loop.

Back towards Halali we encountered another pride of lions on the main road. This time a large male was walking along proudly across the road accompanied by four females. On our way back to the camp we did some birding … and wow! Did we ever get some fabulous shots! Bare-cheeked Babblers, Violet Wood-hoopoes, and Carp’s Tits were among some of the rare birds mostly found around here.

After lunch we set off again – this time in a different direction. And waiting for us at the Nuamses water hole we found yet another lioness. She was lying quite flat in a grassy patch with reeds right next to the pan. She was flat – flat as can be on her stomach, with the short reeds and grass only slightly taller – about 10 or 20 cm higher than she was. And all around impala were milling around. The herd was spread out and they often approached very close to her. We captured numerous images of the impala drinking close to the lioness and hoped that there could be some action – but she ignored them.

Back at Halali we set up for Honey-Badgers but they have not arrived.

Although a bit tiring after yesterday’s very long day, Etosha has been great and everyone has a fabulous collection of images to take home … and hopefully even more to come …

 

 

 

 

Sabi Sand Photo Safari: Wild Dog and Leopard Kills …

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Brendon’s News from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains:

(Photos from Back of Brendon’s Camera)

As usual we were on our vehicles and ready to go before any hint of sunrise this morning. Should we return to the lions with their wildebeest kill, search for a leopard, or just see what we see … after all there is always so much to see and experience here! And as always that is what happened …

First of all we found a Wild Dog Pack. There were twelve dogs with a small Duiker kill. They finished this within moments of our arrival and then moved off. Very soon they made another kill – something that we couldn’t quite see or identify as the actual kill was obscured by bushes, and it was polished off within a minute or two.

8IMG_2599.MOV (Wild Dogs Hunt)

The feeding frenzy, yipping, bounding around, snatching whatever each could grab from the kill was mind blowing! Then they were off again, still hunting …

8IMG_2600.MOV (Wild Dogs Hunt)

While the dogs were all on the move we somehow managed to keep up with them for quite a long time. They were gradually and steadily moving in the direction of Big Dam, so when they all disappeared into some very thick bush we dashed to the dam, hoping that they would arrive there for a drink. We positioned our vehicles to photograph them coming over the dam wall and also the best place to capture the dogs drinking. We were correct!

The pack arrived as we had hoped for a drink and then they ran across the dam wall directly past us. They were at eye level with us, and with the background of beautifully coloured autumn foliage, our images turned out spectacularly well.

Hearing that a female leopard with a kill had been spotted quite a distance from the Lodge we headed directly there this afternoon. After a half hour drive we reached a young female leopard eating what appeared to be the remains of a Steenbok. The leopard was on the ground and therefore visibility was not great at first. We waited, however, and our patience was rewarded when she took the remnants of her kill and hoisted it up into a tree. She came back down the tree to munch on some bones that she had left. After that, when it was quite dark already, she strolled out into the open and we used our spotlights for a series of pretty good photographs. When she lay down on the ground to sleep we left to make our way slowly back to the Lodge.

On the way we received a call about a pride of lions that had been spotted. Two lionesses with five five-month old cubs were lying on an open bank, with lots of grooming going on as they started to wake up for the evening. We used the spotlights again … a super way to end our evening …

In the morning we may start with the lions again …

 

Sabi Sand Photo Safari: A Great Start With the Styx Pride …

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Brendon’s News from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari at Elephant Plains:

Yep! We are here – back at Elephant Plains in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Everyone arrived in time for a meal followed by a briefing – and then we were ready to set out for our first game drive.

At first we were a little anxious that maybe the cooler weather would mean fewer sightings – but no! There was no need for any worries there! There was plentiful general game around, with herds of Impala, Wildebeest and Zebras to see and photograph.

Our guides knew where the Styx Pride of lions would likely be, and we made our way to that area. First we found three adult lionesses drinking at a small muddy wallow. We photographed the three until they moved back to where they have a large wildebeest kill, and there they joined their four small cubs and a larger cub. The cubs were together on a termite mound at first before they moved to join the adults at the kill. The picture was complete when the cubs decided to suckle from mom in beautiful, golden light.

When we left the pride it wasn’t long before we saw rhinos, and then elephants. At this stage the sun had set, and we started a slow drive back to the Lodge.

On the way we saw a young hyena lurking around in the darkness – and our final sighting before we arrived at the Lodge was a Pearl-spotted Owl.

So after a really super first game drive, we are gathered together, sharing jokes and anecdotes, and debating whether we should visit the lions again at first light in the morning …