The First to See New Cubs …

Brendon’s News from Elephant Plains on the Sabi Sand Photo safari:

(Photos from back of Brendon’s Camera)

The many options and choices about where to start our morning drive were decided for us when we left the Lodge and almost immediately heard what sounded like a male leopard calling on an open area close to the Lodge. We dashed there and found fresh tracks that we followed all the way to an inaccessible river bed where we unfortunately could not follow.

We gave up and left the area to see what else we could see. As we drove away we found lioness tracks that were headed to where we know she has a cubs at a secluded den site. No-one has seen the little cubs, but we know that they must be at the den. No-one has been allowed to approach the area but as the cubs are around eight weeks old now we were given permission to proceed with care and caution. We approached the dry riverbed slowly and followed the tracks until they disappeared up a bank. As we crested the top of the bank we saw the lioness – and a tiny face for a second or two. We detoured around in an arc that brought us to a spot which would hopefully intersect with the lioness and her cub. We waited and minutes later mom appeared – and she was accompanied by three of the cutest, most adorable little bundles of fur. The three cubs huddled together and gazed at us inquisitively while we filled our cameras with photograph after photograph, feeling very privileged that we were first to see them.

Eventually mom called the little ones and they followed her obediently to a the safety of a thicket where they lay down together for a nap.

When we moved on we decided to check on the male leopard with the kill. He was in the grass below the tree, and didn’t do much other than yawn a few times. After a while he started to look up at his kill in the tree again and again and we realised that he would soon climb up to that branch. We readied our cameras and were able to photograph the leopard as he scaled the steep tree trunk. He started to feed and then moved the kill to a different branch where he ate for a while before moved the kill again – and again. We spent most of the morning with him.

During our time at the Lodge we heard ongoing confrontations between lions and hyenas, and realised that there was action at the buffalo kill. As soon as we could we left the Lodge for our afternoon drive and made our way straight to the kill. The hyenas had taken over the kill completely and the lions had moved a few hundred meters away. The hyenas grabbed the sparse remains of the carcass and dashed off in different directions. Only a few bones remained and even they disappeared fast as we watched, leaving the head with hyenas chewing what they could grab.

We passed the dozing lions and took a drive around to photograph elephants close to the vehicle and also zebra and giraffe.

Before it was time to return to the Lodge we returned to the leopard and found him back on the ground. We used our spotlights for photographs as he relaxed under the tree.

Because we have been so lucky and have seen so much on this trip, tomorrow we would like to simply enjoy whatever we can see …