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Sabi Sand Photo Safari

What An Encounter With Tiyane (leopard) in the Sabi Sand Reserve! …

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Dawie Reports their amusement at the dam and then an unusual kill on the Elephant Plains Photo Safari:


Regarding predators our morning started slowly, but that was not the way the day turned out!

First we photographed elephants and other Plains animals before we tried to find Wild Dogs where we hoped they were on this property. We did a large loop, checking for both dogs and lions. We checked the boundaries and found ourselves heading northward.

For the first time in ages we decided to stop for a coffee break, to regroup, re-think, and start afresh. Surely those cats and dogs were there. What a lovely break that was!

We stopped at a dam where a very active hippo kept us almost too busy to remember our waiting hot coffee. In addition a family of Egyptian Geese with nine tiny ones hitched a ride in turns on the hippo’s back. Every time they were dislodged they clamoured back up to enjoy the ride until they were off again. Up, down, up, down they went. It was delightful, cute, and very humorous! Of course our cameras very ultra busy.

Not long after that our tracker spotted a leopard named Tiyane up in a tree. She was on a high branch that overhangs the river. She had caught a Blue Vervet Monkey moments before, and was settling down to start feeding. We missed the kill by seconds. She waited until she finished the small meal before we started to make our way back to the Lodge.

This was our final game drive for the current TuskPhoto Safari guests, and what a way to end!

Our new arrivals joined us for lunch, and we were able to set out promptly to find Tiyane. But then, when we found tracks of a male leopard we followed these instead. We stopped to photograph Plains animals and were suddenly alerted by a call to report Tiyane’s whereabouts.

The leopard was up in a Marula Tree, and we photographed her against a sky with gathering clouds. She was asleep at first, but woke up as the late afternoon approached.

She jumped down from the tree and started to patrol. We followed as she made her way, walking casually through open and thick bush. Well, it was casual until hyenas arrived and chased her. Although we searched for her, she had disappeared somewhere impenetrable and there were no tracks.

We drove around, hoping against hope that she would reappear again. And wow! The next moment there she was! She appeared out of the bush, and we were able to remain with her again until she leaped up into a large, beautiful tree where she posed against the vibrant deep slightly pink, and dark blue sky with plenty of dramatic clouds.

Then we heard that a vehicle had a major problem and we had to assist them with their broken parts before it was time to return to the Lodge. An amazing day at Elephant Plains that ends each evening with a scrumptious multi course meal under the stars simply should be added to bucket lists everywhere.


Tomorrow we would like to resume our search for Moyà, maybe Tiyane, or that male leopard …

Hippos Unimpressed with Swimming Elephant in the Sabi Sand Reserve …

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Dawie Reports on His day with Leopards, Elephants, Hippos, – and drama while on the Elephant Plains Photo Safari:


When we set out early in the morning we searched for lions that we heard were in the area. Our search was interrupted when we found hyenas – and they were on a mission. After staring fixedly at a specific area they all started to run at quite a speed. We tried to keep up with them but they outpaced us. We looped around to try to locate them and whatever they were chasing. No luck.

Meanwhile our other vehicle managed to find Moyà, the female leopard. She was in a tree, and we couldn’t determine if she had been chased up there or if she chose to be there. We spent ages with Moyà and were rewarded for our patience when she descended from the tree to drink water at a nearby dam. From there she continued her journey, and when it became difficult to see her, we left the area.

On the way back to the Lodge we saw rhino, plains animals, and a lovely herd of elephants.

The afternoon game drive found us back at Moyà again. She had made a duiker kill during the day but had not yet started to feed.

When we heard of a nearby male leopard, not far from Moyà, we quickly visited that location. There we found a dominant male leopard with one blind eye and a heavily scarred face. This was Hukumuri, a veteran from this area. It was wonderful to see this fabulous character again. We photographed him as he sprawled on a termite mound – but then some elephants showed up and objected to the leopard’s presence. They chased him and he slunk away.

We returned to Moyà, and on the way we again saw a rhino. He had just enjoyed a muddy wallow and was caked in mud as he moved to a grassy area.

The dam was nearby, and we were thrilled to find a male elephant splashing and swimming in the cool water. The hippos were most unimpressed and showed their dissatisfaction with wide mouths and plenty of interaction in an attempt to intimidate the elephant. The elephant remained firm, determined to enjoy his swim for as long as he wished.

We were not surprised when we were unable to find Moyà and her kill. This was because we had received a report that hyenas had stolen the carcass and she then disappeared.

After so many leopard encounters each day, we hope that our luck will hold out …

Moyà, a Female Leopard, Hunts and Hunts in the Sabi Sand Reserve …

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Dawie Reports on Leopard Activities while on the Elephant Plains Photo Safari:

Wow, what a time we have had for the past days! Poor internet connections delayed this report so lets us look at the highlights.

First of all, we have managed to find Moyà, the female leopard, on every game drive. It has been challenging at times, but she also treated us to some terrific poses. She climbed onto a termite mound where we had ample time to photograph her from all angles, and using different techniques. (This was after we had meandered around with frequent stops for all the other game. Elephants, rhino, all the different Plains animals, hyenas, and more.)

While we photographed Moyà on the termite mound a group of ‘dagga boys’ (buffalo) also arrived in the scene, and we were able to photograph them with Moyà closer to us. She sat up smartly as soon as she saw the newcomers and stared intently at them.

When we returned on the same afternoon, we found Moyà hunting. She went after Guinea Fowl, then a Scrub Hare, and then she fixed her sights on a herd of impala. We finally left her when she disappeared into a thicket.

The following morning we again photographed elephants, rhino, zebras, giraffe, hyenas and different bird species.

But it was the afternoon that really delivered. We caught up with Moyà again, and as she was hunting again we stuck with her. She went from thicket to thicket, and managed to flush out a Scrub Hare. After chasing it for quite a distance the tired leopard decided to catch her breath and rest before she continued the hunt. She then chased the hare into a ravine where she caught and killed it. It was out of sight but we were pleased that after much effort Moyà finally had a meal.

Male leopard tracks had been spotted, but he proved to be most elusive. After photographing other animals again, we once again returned to Moyà. She was hunting again, but as it was dark and because we would need to use spotlights we did not want to interfere with her hunt and rather left her and wishing her success we took a slow drive back to the Lodge.


It would be wonderful to find Moyà again in the morning to see whether she had an even more successful hunt …

Amorous Leopards in the Sabi Sand Reserve …

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Dawie Reports on Multiple Leopard Encounters while on the Elephant Plains Photo Safari:


As planned we headed directly to the mating leopards when we left the Lodge for our early morning safari, the final drive for these guests. When we managed to find the big cats we followed them in and out of some difficult terrain. We spent a large portion of the morning with them as they stopped a number of times to mate, and we eventually only left them when they went into an impenetrable thicket.

We photographed some hyenas that trailed the mating big cats. After photographing a herd of elephants we headed to Moyà, the female leopard we had seen previously. We spotted her kill in the tree, and waited patiently for her to return before it was time to return to the Lodge for the departing guests to head home with fabulous memories, and amazing photographs to match.

The incoming Tuskphoto Safari guests arrived and were understandably anxious to get going on their first drive.

We first checked the area where we had last seen the mating leopards, but as there was no sign of them, we returned to the kill in the tree to see if Moyà, the female leopard, had reappeared. When we arrived she was up in the tree with the duiker, remains, but after a few minutes she came down again to finish eating on the ground. When she finished eating she groomed herself and quickly left the area.

A call came through to alert us to a male leopard right on our southern boundary. As we approached the boundary we saw three rhinos and then a large elephant herd demanded our attention. We didn’t stop for long as we were keen to catch up with the leopard.

Our haste was actually unnecessary because the leopard was asleep and unmoving. After a while he woke up and started his evening patrol and scent marking. We followed until he crossed to a neighbouring territory, but he turned around smartly and returned to where we could see and photograph him comfortably. He then made his way in and out of thick bushes. When he reached a road he strolled along, and after we had taken photographs we headed back to the mating leopards.

We spent quite a time with them to take advantage of some night images. Hyenas arrived close by and at one stage they chased the male leopard into a Marula Tree. That gave us some perfect photo opportunities and our memory cars filled very quickly. When the hyenas left the area, the male came down to reunite and start mating again with the patiently waiting female.

Back at the Lodge everyone gathered for our pre-dinner drinks, and to gloat over the fabulous photos each had collected.

In the morning we could try to catch up once again with the mating couple …

A Surprise Leopard Kill Next to Our Vehicle in the Sabi Sand Reserve …

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Dawie Shares Leopard Encounters and more on the Elephant Plains Photo Safari:


After our very welcome early morning coffee with rusks we started our early safari with a search for a female leopard. We found tracks close to a waterhole and followed these.

The beautiful female leopard is dominant in this area and was settled in a Marula Tree. She gazed around from her lofty perch, and with the glowering clouds as a backdrop, we used fill-in flash to capture our images. It was a fabulous scene!

Suddenly, with no warning at all, the leopard leaped down from the tree, dashed past our vehicles and within a split second she had a Scrub Hare. We were so startled that we almost forgot to press our shutter buttons. She settled down to eat her kill, and then moved into a thicket. We left her in peace – after all, she had treated us to an awesome experience!

We headed toward the south where we heard of another female who reportedly had a duiker kill. On the way we detoured past the hippo carcass, and found so many vultures feeding there that we could barely see the remains. There were hundreds, and the scene was very busy, with hyenas chasing vultures, vultures chasing vultures, and general chaos. Photography was excellent, but then the wind changed and the stench forced us to leave the area immediately.

We made our way to the female leopard with the duiker kill. Not only were we able to photograph her as she dragged the carcass, another female leopard arrived on the scene. As you can imagine there was some fearsome growling and snarling and we almost expected a fight to break out. It was a really exciting moment.

On the way back to the Lodge we spotted rhinos, and shortly after that we came across a herd of elephants.

As we left the Lodge again, large breeding herd of elephants was right at the Lodge gates.

We stopped for a short while, but during our midday break we had heard about mating leopards. We followed tracks and found them. The sounds helped to guide us to their whereabouts. They were in a thicket and somewhat obscured by the bushes and foliage. It was exciting to sit there, listening to the amorous couple, especially as it was a first for some of the TuskPhoto guests. Eventually the pair emerged into the open, where they continued to mate.

After a while the male led his partner to the river where we could not see them at all.

We returned to where we had seen the two leopards earlier and after tracking for a while we found the female in a tree and her kill on the ground. As we approached she jumped down to feed and then hoisted the remains into the tree. She went in search of some water after which she disappeared completely.

We returned once again to the mating leopards, hoping to get some good nighttime shots. There was some foliage in the way, but we managed some pretty good photography before they went off into the darkness.

Our final stop was to photograph a chameleon –

In the morning we would like to locate the mating leopards again …

Hyenas Nearly Trip Over A Leopard in the Sabi Sand Reserve …

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Dawie Shares an Epic Day from Elephant Plains Photo Safari:


Our first visit this morning was to the lions at the hippo remains. We found most of the big cats sprawled around with very full bellies while one or two nibbled at the carcass. They showed no sign that they would move in the next few hours.

A second vehicle at the sighting left and immediately, as they started to drive away, they spotted a leopard in a tree. We were very surprised and took a few moments to move to a vantage point. Indeed, there he was, clearly visible in a tall tree. A large male leopard with a warthog kill. He was dozed while his kill dangled from a lower branch. Our view of the leopard was superb and we made the most of the twenty minutes we enjoyed with him.

When a report came through on the phone about a female leopard with two subadult cubs we headed directly to them. The trio moved through the bush, the cubs already as large as their mother. We photographed them as they progressed in and out of the bushes. They jumped up and down termite mounds, and remained very active until mom decided to leave the youngsters in a sheltered spot while she continued her business and then passed to a neighbouring territory. The male cub climbed a tree where he settled for a snooze, while his sister explored the area. She jumped onto a fallen tree where she posed beautifully for us.

After a quick check on the slumbering lions we returned to the Lodge for a meal and some photographic editing.

Our afternoon drive started with elephants, zebras, giraffes, other Plains animals, – and hyenas.

Then Brendon heard about another female leopard and he and his group followed her. She popped into a ravine where she had a kill. She was close to the vehicle as she lay on a branch next to the carcass, giving superb wide-angle photographic opportunities for the group.

Meanwhile we returned to the leopard trio. Luck was on our side, and soon after we arrived, the mother leopard strolled back from the neighbouring territory. We watched as she started to hunt, and jumped onto vantage points for a good look around. When we returned to the cubs we only found the young female. She is very active, is very inquisitive and stared directly at us from time to time.

When she went to lie down we remained with her for a while. The next moment some hyenas appeared on the scene. They were oblivious of each other – right until the moment that the hyenas were really close and almost walked over the leopard. The cub suddenly leaped up and darted away in a flash.

We headed to the west again where we came across the lions from the morning. They had left the carcass and were on an open plain where they drank water and settled down on the short grass. It was a perfect opportunity for us to capture images using side lighting and back lighting, each vehicle providing lighting for the other.

After yet another phenomenal day here at Elephant Plains, the usual pre-dinner drinks and fabulous meal under those glittering stars awaited us …

Hippo Fight Fatality in the Sabi Sand Reserve …

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Dawie Shares an Eventful Day at Elephant Plains Photo Safari:

(Photos: Brendon Cremer)


Our decision for our early drive was to visit the northern part of the reserve. We hoped to see a leopard again. We received a report about a young leopard. We spent quite a long time with the small two year old as she hunted around for small game like Scrub Hares or even a bird. She was very active and climbed trees or jumped up termite mounds to get a good look around. We didn’t see her catch anything,but our time with her was fun, exciting and gave us some great photographic moments.

We passed elephants, giraffe, and the ever abundant Plains animals.

Back at the Lodge we did a flash workshop, and having honed our skills we decided to return to the young female leopard in the afternoon. As we located her we suddenly saw another leopard. This was also a young female that lives in the area. Because they both are too young to have demarcated and claimed a territory, they live quite close together. However, as soon as the newcomer realised that there was another leopard there already she dashed away.

We remained with the young morning female and watched as she hunted again. She managed to grab a squirrel and ate the snack in minutes. Then off she went, searching for more food.

We then found a mother rhino with a small calf. They were in the open, making photography a pleasure and quite straightforward.

A pride of lions was our next stop – after a call to alert us to their whereabouts. While watching them we were told about a huge fight between two hippos that resulted in one death. The lions quite quickly caught the whiff and off they went, leading us to the scene. Hyenas were already at the kill, eating as fast as they could, but the lions immediately chased them and then settled down for a rare un-earned meal.

So, after a very eventful day, our pre-dinner drinks and meal were more than welcome.

In the morning we would like to dash to the lions to check if there are any more confrontations or conflicts at the hippo kill …

A Leopard at the Gate, And Another Hunts in a Tree in the Sabi Sand Reserve …

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Dawie Describes a Day with Superb Big Cat Sightings on the Elephant Plains Photo Safari:


During the night we could hear male lions calling again and again. Before sunrise we set off in the direction the sounds had come from out to search for them, and just as we arrived close to the vicinity where we thought they would probably be located, the Lodge contacted us to say that a male leopard was in the driveway to the Lodge.

When we arrived we found the Tortoise Pan leopard with a kill in a tree. Most of the kill had been eaten, and as it was obscured by foliage we could not really photograph the scene well. Then just as we repositioned our vehicle to get a less obstructed view of the leopard and kill, we received another call. The lions had been located.

So left the leopard to see the lions. There were two males, flat and dozing in the already hot morning. They lifted a head now and again, and other than an occasional twitch of an ear or a brief, lazy flick of a tail, they were disinclined to move at all.

One vehicle photographed elephants while our second TuskPhoto Safari group stopped for coffee and snacks – and to photograph very busy dung beetles.

Other game that we saw during the morning drive included plenty of giraffes, zebras, and other Plains animals – also rhinos, and some hyenas.

During our afternoon game drive we headed to the leopard again. Once again we had just repositioned ourselves to get a decent sighting for photography when a call came through to us.

We followed up on the call and found a female leopard up in a tree. She was hunting Buffalo Weaver chicks – unsuccessfully. She gave up and came down from the tree to visit the nearby waterhole where she settled down for a long, thirsty drink. The light was a beautiful golden iridescence, giving us the opportunity to make the best of the scene. When she had finished drinking we followed the leopard until she strolled off into a thicket.

Our attention turned back again to the Tortoise Pan leopard. We found him in the tree, eating what was left of the carcass. As soon as he had enough he started his evening patrol with regular scent marking.


He gave us a superb show, and even stopped at a puddle for a drink. He was great and a provided a superb ending to the afternoon drive.

On the short journey to the Lodge we spotted a Barred Owlet and stopped for a few moments for photos. Then it was time for pre-dinner drinks and our dinner under the stars.

Could another drive tomorrow be as rewarding ? …

A Welcome Old Leopard Friend Returns to Elephant Plains in the Sabi Sand Reserve …

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We Meet Tingana after a long time on the Elephant Plains Photo Safari:


Our early morning started with a search for a different male leopard. Tingana has not been seen in the area for ages and it was a true pleasure and a delight to catch up with him again. We followed him through the bush. He Nieves back and forth, changed direction, and every now and again he posed beautifully, giving us time for some superb shots.

When he reached a warthog burrow, he sniffed around for a bit. He clearly decided that the scent was quite fresh and he optimistically settled down to wait for a warthog to appear. We waited with him, equally hopeful. But no, his luck – and ours – and our patience did not yield results this time.

He moved further and when found a comfortable termite termite mound he decided to settle there. It was too warm to move around much, so he remained on his perch for the rest of the morning.

We drove around to see what other game we could photograph. As always there was plenty. The time flew by as we captured images of elephants, giraffe, and plenty of hyenas.

The afternoon drive saw us back in search of Tingana. We found his tracks and followed these and found him sleeping at a water hole. As we watched the dozing leopard we noticed a crocodile nearby, and then we saw that the croc was feeding on something. Wow! It was an impala carcass. Our guide informed us that a few days back a pack of wild dogs had chased a herd of Impala into the water and clearly the croc had grabbed the impala and was ready to eat it now.

Tingana stood up for a while, looked around, but then decided to settle down again.

As it was time to return to the Lodge, we left our old friend resting. Hopefully we will meet again …