Andrew Reports from Elephant Plains:
As we set out this morning, another bumper day awaited us.
It all started with the lions. The Styx pride had taken down not only one, but two, yes two! buffalos … a cow and a bull were taken in the early hours of this morning. When we arrived the two kills were about ten meters from each other. The cow had been half eaten,
– and the whole pride was still feeding. The cubs combined stops for eating with games as they climbed onto the buffalo to ambush each other, and then chase each other all around.
We were still photographing the lions when we heard that two leopards, Mvula and Thandi, had been spotted – and they were honeymooning.
We arrived to find that the couple were moving along, mating intermittently, as they passed through some clear areas, but the harsh light and the longish grass inhibited good photography, but did nothing to dim our excitement at witnessing the couple. They mated eleven times while we were there, with the snarls and growls that sound almost alarming, and add to the whole amazing experience. When the couple moved into a drainage line we lost sight of them and returned to the Lodge for breakfast, passing zebras, impala, kudus, wildebeest, hippos, and elephants on the way.
This afternoon we returned to the lions where one or two were still nibbling at the kill, but the majority of the pride members were really full and sleeping. Even the cubs were sprawled out and for once they were quiet.
We decided to try and find the mating leopards and headed that way.
On the way we encountered one of Karula’s cubs. He was alone and out hunting. He spotted some warthogs and started to stalk them. We kept up with him as he crept, undetected, to within a meter of the oblivious warthogs.
We held our breath, hearts hammering ..
And with a single bound the leopard landed on the back of one of the warthogs. Maybe it was inexperience that made him choose the largest of the little family, but his determination meant that he had made it!
Or had he?
With a huge shrug the warthog flicked the leopard off his back and ran to the safety of the thicket while the bemused leopard stared after the retreating figure, clearly unsure about what had just happened.
We were as stunned as the leopard, and it took a while for us to be somewhat calm again.
We reached Mvula and Thandi and spent the next two hours with them as the light went from late afternoon gold to night blackness. This time the leopards were in a perfect area for photography and we made full use of the opportunity and the swiftly changing lighting.
When the time came for us to return to the Lodge we took our final spotlit photos of the couple and headed back for dinner.
Sitting under the stars for our dinner in the boma, we can still feel the thrill and sheer excitement of another bumper day …
We plan to check on the lion kill first in the morning …