Stories from the Masai Mara: Leopard Kill in Action
Oct25

Stories from the Masai Mara: Leopard Kill in Action

Another day, another story from the Masai Mara, where Nik Simpson spent a very productive few days on safari at Ilkeliani Camp and Porini Lion Camp before heading off to the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. We’ve made the most of his fantastic photos, sharing them in various stories on our blog and social media platforms, and today brings yet another outstanding moment in the wild to life. A big male leopard – spotted enjoying the after effects of good meal while he relaxed in a tree – was brought to attention when he spotted a good opportunity to feast once again! A lone wildebeest was spotted nearby and this male leopard wasn’t going to let an easy meal pass him by. This is Nik’s story of the event: “We were on our way to see if we could see a wildebeest crossing on the Talek River when we came across this large leopard in a tree. He had obviously fed well as you can see the remains of his last kill hanging from the tree behind him. Almost immediately he spotted a lone wildebeest from his tree, 50-100 yards away, and he showed immediate interest despite his obviously full belly. His interest piqued by the wildebeest, he started to come down from the tree. A quick descent from the tree and he was ready to get his breakfast. The wildebeest seemed to be completely oblivious. I imagine he was wondering why all the safari trucks were around him, thinking “they like me, they like me”! It was over in seconds: the leopard pounced and quickly got a grip of the wildebeest’s throat. Less than a minute later, it was all over. The leopard obviously wanted to eat his breakfast in peace, so he started dragging his kill off into the bush. He was a large, powerful leopard; and the wildebeest barely had a chance to put up a fight. This was the last we saw of him as he dragged his kill out of...

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Stories from the Masai Mara: Fig the Leopard and her Cub
Oct17

Stories from the Masai Mara: Fig the Leopard and her Cub

Our recent guest, Nik Simpson, embarked on an all-encompassing East Africa safari last month, and has since shared so much of his phenomenal photographs and stories on his personal Flickr account, inviting us to feast our eyes on some of the amazing wildlife sightings he enjoyed. On this particular occasion, Nik was at Porini Lion Camp in the Mara Olare Motorogi Conservancy just outside the Masai Mara National Reserve, and it is clearly right where the magic happens! On a safari itinerary that took him from the Masai Mara to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, Nik’s sightings reflected the wealth of wildlife residing in this wild African paradise. We’ve shared a couple of his photos and stories over the last few weeks (take a look at this Talek river crossing during the wildebeest migration, and this impossibly amazing kill involving 5 cheetah brothers), and now we’re all about this precious sighting of Fig the Leopard and her Cub! This superb sighting went from good, to better, to best over the space of a few days, as Nik continued to encounter Fig the leopardess on his game drives at Porini Lion Camp. One day, she was spotted patrolling her territory on her own, the next it was revealed she had a little cub hiding out in the thicket, and finally Fig hunted a scrub hare and brought it to her cub. An outstanding sighting in anyone’s book. One morning, Fig was spotted out on her own, patrolling her turf, and just through the thicket she had emerged from, her little cub could be spied. Only just, the 4-month old ball of fur was visible between the leaves, well hidden by its mother, who knows the dangers that lurk in the famous predator paradise that is the Masai Mara. Here, the little cub would spend hours on its own until Fig came back after her morning rounds. The next day, Nik was out on game drive, and yet again, Fig and her cub were the stars of the show. The mother and cub were hanging out in the branches of a tree, and before long, Fig descended, leaving her cub at a safe height while she went out to pick up some dinner. After a short while, Fig turned up with the goods. She had caught a scrub hare, which Nik described as being ‘too slow’, and she was spotted on her way back to the tree where he and fellow guests were keeping watch over the cub. She stopped a short distance away and began calling her cub, encouraging it to come down and find her. At first there was no reaction, but...

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Leopard vs Leopard vs Hyenas in Sabi Sand
Aug21

Leopard vs Leopard vs Hyenas in Sabi Sand

Sabi Sand madness continues to impress, after all these years of boasting some of the best leopard sightings in southern Africa! We can’t deny its appeal, and we’ve been waving guests off to the Sabi Sand for years, as they embark on their first or fiftieth safari. First timers come away enthralled by the sheer closeness of animals encounters, superior standard of service, the majesty of the bush – lush summer, or bone-dry winter – and with the intention to go again; while safari veterans leave the Sabi Sand with a renewed appreciation for this sublime South African treasure, and with even more knowledge of the elements that make up the wild. Without a doubt, some of the Kruger’s most phenomenal leopard sightings have come out of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, and most recently, we’ve seen this epic night time encounter emerge on game drive with Nkorho Bush Lodge… In this adrenalin-pumping sequence of events – narrated by Nkorho guide Chene Wales-Baillie – we see one leopard in a tree with an impala kill, while a second leopard circles the base of the tree, giving a wide berth to the hyenas, which are also circling the tree trunk in the hopes of stealing the carcass should it plummet to the ground. The immediate appeal of this sighting is that it involves an intense interaction long-time enemies, leopard and hyena; and then we add the presence of a second leopard, which takes it to the next level! The female leopard in the tree is protective over her impala (rightly so), and does not like the presence of the hyenas. She is tense and showing her discomfort. Then, a second female leopard shows up – also showing a keen interest in the impala carcass – and attempts to approach the tree, but the hyenas keep her at bay. Soon, the hyenas move away from the tree, giving the second leopard an opportunity to get what she wants and she takes it, leaping into the tree, much to the disgruntlement of the first leopard. A thrilling interaction between these two cats ensues and this is where the real action starts! The two leopards snarl and swat at one another, growling and swiping in a ferocious performance in the branches of the tree. The impala carcass dangles perilously and the hyenas come running back like scavengers to pick up what is bound to drop to the ground. Sure enough, the carcass falls to the ground, as the intruding leopard also tumbles from the tree. Just like that, the carcass is lost to the hyenas and both leopards are left without a meal. This was...

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Leopard vs Warthog in Kruger
Apr16

Leopard vs Warthog in Kruger

Leopard vs Warthog in Kruger Wildlife photographer Sheila from Sheila’s Africa, was lucky enough to be in the north of the Kruger National Park when she came across a sighting that would quickly become epic! While sitting at the Sable Dam in the Kruger Park, she was watching a warthog wallowing when she spotted movement in the bank about the pig. What followed was an epic battle between the agile and bigger leopard and the razor sharp tusked stocky warthog...

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Our Team Travels: My Kruger Safari – Michelle Astbury
Dec23

Our Team Travels: My Kruger Safari – Michelle Astbury

My Kruger Safari – A Mega Educational to Timbavati and Klaserie Michelle is our Product and Reservations Manager, she just returned from the Kruger on an educational which took 30 tour operators on a whirlwind tour of the Klaserie and Timabavti reserves in Kruger   I joined a group of tour operators on a visit to the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve and the Timbavati Private Game Reserve. The aim: visit and experience numerous lodges, spot the magnificent game on offer and soak up the atmosphere while staying in some of the most beautiful places in the world. We set off on a Friday morning from Cape Town on the very convenient direct flight to Hoedspruit, the gateway to the reserves in the mid and northern section of the Greater Kruger Area. Once our luggage arrived – on the tarmac of the parking lot – we were divided up into the groups we would explore the Kruger with. There were 8 lodges partaking in this wonderful trip, and they were all on hand to whisk their group off on their adventure. I set off with 2 groups to the Klaserie to visit nDzuti Safari Lodge and stay at nThambo Tree Camp and Africa on Foot. Even the rain soaking us on the drive couldn’t dampen our excitement. First stop was a quick view of nDzuti Safari Lodge. This lovely lodge only has 4 rooms, which keeps it intimate. The beautiful deck and lawns overlook a waterhole and the bush. Back on the safari vehicle, we headed, still in the rain, to Africa on Foot and nThambo. We saw the first of the first big 5 – the Rhino – on the drive. I was deposited with my group at nThambo Tree Camp, where I was to spend the night. After checking in, we went off to our rooms for a change of clothes before lunch and our evening game drive. nThambo has 5 safari tents on raised decks. These rooms have wonderful views of the bush, while the main lodge has a plunge pool and a lovely lounge.   We headed off with our guide Matt, and tracker Isaac on our evening game drive, thankfully the rain had stopped. We saw a wonderful herd of elephant, many birds, and another rhino and then joined up with the group from Africa on Foot for sundowners. We headed back to nThambo for dinner, yummy lamb braai (BBQ) where the local hippo made an appearance, as did a roaming hyena! An early morning game drive took us to a sight that was on my bucket list – a pack of wild dogs!! We visited...

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Amazing Game Viewing at Africa on Foot and nThambo
Dec22

Amazing Game Viewing at Africa on Foot and nThambo

Africa on Foot and nThambo Tree Camp provide Amazing Game Viewing The last few weeks have seen some truly amazing game viewing around the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve camps of Africa on Foot and nThambo Tree Camp. It started off with visiting with a pack of African Wild Dogs, a wonderful sight! They were seen on the main tarred road that runs through the Klaserie and Timbavati Reserves. Our team got to visit with them before they darted off into the bush on the prowl for a meal.       The team then came across the still body of a young female Leopard. Chloe Cooper wrote this story, with pictures by Kevin MacLaughlin, they were part of the team that found her.   Survival of the fittest means only one thing; that those who are weaker will succumb, and those who succeed will prosper. When predators take down prey, we call it the circle of life, when predators take on predators, it is a vicious and brutal fight, often to the death. Competition in the wild is rife. It’s every man for himself, and each pride for their own. This week the Greater Kruger Park lost a leopard; a young female we had seen with her kill just the night before. Her belly was still full as she lay motionless in the grass, her fur slightly dishevelled, and evidence of bite marks puncturing her neck. The two Ross Pride lionesses dominate the area around Africa on Foot and nThambo Tree Camp, and currently they are hiding one small cub. The instinct to protect their young, and the determination to eliminate the enemy would give these lions enough reason to kill a leopard in their path. Perhaps she took a turn into lion territory that night and had no chance to escape the ruthless lionesses as they set out to hunt. The next morning the lions were found triumphantly feeding on their buffalo prey, while their faded tracks led back to the lifeless young leopard in the distant grass. The recent rains have flushed the evidence from the ground, but it seems that the Klaserie Reserve saw a battle between cats in the early hours of the morning. One youthful leopard no match for a team of ferocious lionesses with a cub to protect. Sometimes jubilant, at times, devastating, the African bush is a combination of celebration and destruction. Standing next to the silent body of a leopard in all her glory was a reminder of the brutality of it all. Watch Kevin MacLaughlin’s video on this story, taking a look at the unforgiving nature of the wild, and the aftermath of...

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Umkumbe Safari Lodge, Sabi Sand – A week in pictures
Dec22

Umkumbe Safari Lodge, Sabi Sand – A week in pictures

Umkumbe Safari Lodge is in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Umkumbe Safari Lodge is one of our favourites in the Sabi Sand area of the Greater Kruger Park. One of the awesome rangers, Angele, sent us this message, as she says goodbye to Umkumbe to move on to the next chapter in her life.   My final Week in Pictures. It is hard to believe that this is my last contribution. What a way to end and what a send off! The bush did not disappoint this week. Guests were enthralled by the smallest to the biggest creatures. Even the rains could not dampen spirits. Green and alive and full of new life, the highlights of the week included the Styx Pride traversing our boundary, both male & female cheetah relaxed at separate sightings and of course, we can’t forget to mention our leopards… Nottens female on the hunt, Nottens cub in a tree, Maxebeni patrolling his territory, Bicycle Crossing male crossing the river in front of the lodge and White Dam on the hunt. What’s more, guests were also treated to wild dogs making a kill on our river front! With all the leopards around, the hyenas have been just as plentiful and in hot pursuit of their scent trails. The heat of summer has also enticed many reptiles out of aestivation. We’ve had beautiful sites of monitor lizards, leopard tortoises, boomslang and rock python to name a few. If that doesn’t convince you to come to the Sabi Sand, then perhaps experiencing 80+ elephants surround the vehicle this week just might do the trick. Lastly, with the rains, comes not only new growth with a veritable kaleidoscope of flowers, but also new life… Impala lambs, zebra foals, elephant & gnu calves, to name a few. Let’s just say that this week has been the best farewell I’ve ever received. Thank you mother nature!!! – Angele                         Cameron Engelbrecht, another of Umkumbe’s expert rangers, also mailed through some of his stunning images from the last week’s sightings. Leopard cubs galore, as well as the big male leopard, Maxabeni. A rhino and a buffalo have a staring competition at a wallowing hole, while a pair of plated lizards bask in the sun.    ...

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