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A lot of spotted cats and not only :)


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Atravelynn

"Not only" is right. You'll never forget the pangolin and honey badger in one drive and JP will never forget you were the client who saw them. You have outstanding luck in South Africa and "not only" with the elusives!

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Unfortunately, I am back from my South Africa trip. It was short due to the requirement to be back to office so I spent all 8 nights at Kirkman’s Kamp in Sabi Sand reserve. Overall it was a great tri

Day 5. Afternoon.   We went straight to Xovonekela. I mean we had not expected anything from a fat lazy leopard on a kill but it was still nice to be near such a magnificent animal (and yes I am cat

Well, it is always hard to compare , but there were at least couple sightings that I had and that I could not even hope to have   Day 2. Morning.   The morning was crispy so we really appreciate

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bettel

Day 7. Afternoon.

 

I am continuing to torture you with leopards :). I warned you right from the beginning so you can’t complain :).

 

We went straight to Schotia and the cub. Despite the fact that almost nothing left on the carcass they were both still there.

 

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The cub was asking mom for some attention:

 

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And mother started to groom the cub:

 

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But then suddenly she changed her mind, stood up, and laid down a few meters away.

 

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Soon she started to check how the carcass was doing:

 

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She climbed up and tried to find what else she could eat. As she was going through leftovers, one piece after another was falling from the tree. At the end when the last piece fell, Schotia climbed down and started to think if she wanted to chew on some bones. She took one leg ...the cub came and grabbed it. Schotia was very patient and took another bone. The cub changed her mind, threw the first bone and tried to grab the second one. That was a BIG mistake! Schotia got mad:

 

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In a split second she slapped her daughter twice (it was almost invisible movement! Man, I was glad that it was not me lol). Then she growled/hissed even more "THIS IS MY BONE, KID! KNOW YOUR LIMITS!:

 

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The cub was not too upset. She was more like “oh, you want it yourself! No problem, ma!”. Then she took the first bone and played with it:

 

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Schotia was enjoying her part of the carcass:

 

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After spending couple hours with leopards, we went to lions. And the rest of the evening we spent with them:

 

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Marks

If this constitutes torture, please keep turning the screws. :)

 

Leopard possessiveness over food, even amongst family, never fails to fascinate me.

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Alexander33

I'm still ruminating over this:

 

"Day 7. Morning. The morning was pretty slow," followed by close-up shots of a huge elephant in perfect morning light, bloody wild dogs and a spectacular leopard.

 

Now, that's my kind of "slow." Keep the "slow" coming.

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bettel

If this constitutes torture, please keep turning the screws. :)

There are still three more drives, we saw leopard(s) each of them :)

 

 

"Day 7. Morning. The morning was pretty slow," followed by close-up shots of a huge elephant in perfect morning light, bloody wild dogs and a spectacular leopard.

 

Now, that's my kind of "slow." Keep the "slow" coming.

Well, I am not THAT spoiled yet :), I meant that the drive was slow before we went to a dog's den :). For couple hours we did not see anything (except short elephant sighting :) )

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xelas

@@bettel

 

We are returning to Kgalagadi with high hopes to see a leopard "up close and (not too) personal"; it that fails there is a Plan B: rereading your trip report!

 

So keep them coming, all, spotted and hairy and wrinkled and with feathers and ...

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Atravelynn

The pictorial leopard discipline was fascinating.

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Alexander33

Whatever negatives may be associated with Sabi Sands from some (valid) points of view, it seems one can always count on it to deliver multiple good leopard experiences.

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bettel

Day 8. Morning.

 

This was an elephant day. A huge mega herd was moving through Kirkman’s property so elephants were everywhere. Who would complain? Not me for sure!

 

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This female just opened her ears warning us not to even try to drive between her and her calf

 

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Here is her calf crossing the road:

 

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And then Ndzilo was found right in the middle of the herd. So we were watching not only her but elephants as well.

 

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Ndzilo was also watching elephants. One time they almost helped her as they flashed a bushbuck out of the bush but then they chased the bushbuck away. And although Ndzilo was pretty determined to find the antelope it did not work.

 

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Then Ndzilo was watching elephants for some time, she even tried to hunt them (there are elephants in the upper left corner of the picture) :)

 

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But then elephants noticed her and chased her away. But she was not upset and just continued her adventure.

 

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From time to time she was playing with herself (she is only 2 yeas old):

 

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Lol and then she was noticed by two squirrels. They were alarm calling loudly and Ndzilo got mad. She was walking under the tree, growling and checking if she somehow could climb and get those bastards. It was way too funny. In 10-15 minutes Ndzilo remembered that she was supposed to be full of self-respect and she could not behave like a crazy puppy chasing a cat :). She calmed down and with “I never actually wanted to get those squirrels” face expression proceeded to thickets and lied down to have some rest:

 

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We sat with her little bit and went to the lodge.

 

When we were driving out of the bush we met a HUGE male elephant who was very excited to be among so many beautiful ladies so he was well prepared (in must :) ). He gave us a look and immediately turned to chase but JP was well prepared and drove away well before the elephant even completed his turn.

 

It was very entertaining at the lodge too as elephants were continuing to move towards the river.

 

Here are views from my balcony and front porch:

 

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Marks

An elephant day is a good day indeed...

I like the angle of the shot with Ndzilo and the elephants both in the frame.

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Atravelynn

Even a leopard can get distracted. Nice catch of her squirrel hunting leap.

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bettel

Day 8. Afternoon.

 

We started the drive with tracking Ndzilo but it was not successfully. We dropped Eckson at the last known position to track her on foot and went to check if she crossed the river. We were driving along the river when we noticed that elephants, that were on another side, started to run and suddenly I could see a cat galloping like crazy along the bank. I could not understand if it was a lioness or a male leopard so I screamed “Cat!!! JP, there is a cat there!”. JP hit brakes and we tried to find out what bushes the leopard (it was a leopard) chose to disappear in.

 

Elephants calmed down and continued to graze and we tried to find Xovo with binoculars. We had no luck until suddenly we could hear a scream of a very stressed animal on MalaMala side. Something was being killed there. Xovo obviously could hear this too, so he jumped out of the bush and ran towards the sound (we guessed that he wanted to check if he could steal it :) )

 

It was pretty obvious that he was not going to cross to our side. So we picked up Eckson and continued the drive.

 

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I had just said that we had not seen a rhino for a while, and here he was :)

 

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It was a huge male. And he was either curious or he did not like us. He started to sniff air and to approach us slowly (JP was holding his hand on a starter :) ).

 

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Do your guides talk to animals J? Don’t ask me why, but it works. I swear I saw it quite a few times with different guides. JP said “Easy, boy! We are not threatening you!” and the rhino calmed down :).

 

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We sat with him and then a few leopards were found (this is what I like about Sabi Sand): Xovo (retuned to our bank), Ndzilo, West Street and new kid in block Two-Two male. We decided to go to Ndzilo. She was hunting impalas (unsuccessfully as a hyena appeared and scared the herd). After this Ndzilo just decided to rest and to wait for the hyena to leave and for impalas to calm down. It was very cool to seat in a total dark with the night vision device (it works pretty well!). But at the end another vehicle arrived and we switched the spotlight on:

 

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bettel

Last drive

 

I did not expect a lot. It is some sort of tradition that my last drive in any camp is a quiet drive. That is why when we heard a rasping leopard somewhere close to us but in Kruger, I was not too excited as I was pretty sure that a leopard would just go deeper to the national park.

 

Xovo did not know that tradition. He rasped a few more times in Kruger and then suddenly we could hear his rasp on our side. It was very nice of him to communicate his position so clearly :).

 

We joined him in his patrol.

 

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Xovo looked as if he were heavily pregnant. Actually I have not seen him starving (and I hope I will not see it)

 

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Xovo always reminds me this cartoon lol (starting 0:28)

 

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After spending morning with Xovo we went to the dog den. We did not actually expect anything but it was nice even to see adults hanging around. They were very relaxed. On the picture below you can see Eckson’s leg (it is not us driving so close, it is a dog who came to us and lied down):

 

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Another young dog (last year pup) was constantly coming close to the hole and calling for pups. Pups did not pay any attention at the beginning and then suddenly they all appeared. They were nursing the alpha female (she immediately came close as soon as pups got out) and then they were investigating the area near the hole.

 

It was fascinating to watch adults: as soon as pups came out all adults got up, surrounded the den, and were watching everything around to make sure that there was no danger. One male actually suddenly decided that he did not like us there so he started to growl at us. JP was going to move the vehicle further not to stress the dog. But the male calmed down and did not pay any attention to us again. So he might have just wanted to let us know that he was watching us!

 

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I was trying to make some pictures of pups but with the amount of brunches around it was impossible to do it on auto focus. And by the time when the smart idea to switch auto focus off came to me almost all pups were already back to den:

 

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As soon as all pups went back to the whole we went back to the lodge. What a nice way to say good bye to Kirkman.

Edited by bettel
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A big leopard indeed, and a really impressive rhino!

 

I've always loved that cartoon, too, though the animals in it are really more inflatable balloons than they are just fat. :) The cheetah kills me every time.

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Alexander33

@@bettel

 

I have thoroughly enjoyed this trip report. What wonderful sightings and such an exceptional experience. Just goes to show that Sabi Sands should never be discounted -- especially if you're into leopards (although maybe we should add pangolin to that list?) Thanks again for sharing with us.

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Kitsafari

that's a big fat belly on xovo. how wonderful to end the trip with the dogs and pups, it's safarista's dream! certainly mine.

 

you've taken me on a fun, wild ride with you, and the leopards and dogs - and a honey badger and a pangolin - all came through for you. I thought of your trip when i was in the Kruger reserves and kept hoping for the same luck!

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