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Kaye's Trip Report - Part 1 Botswana & Zimbabwe 1.7.06 to 14.7.06

Kaye's Trip Report - Part 1 Botswana & Zimbabwe 1.7.06 to 14.7.06

Aug 23rd, 2006, 06:00 PM
  #21  
 
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Hi Kay welcome back ,great report!

Predatorbiologist:

<<It is important to know though this is a wilderness area at its best which is very different viewing than the fenced border of the Sabi Sand where the high density of mammals is packed into a small area with a high density of tourism leading to very habituated predators>>

Not really true as the SSGR forms part of the Greater Kruger Park i.e. 2 million hectares.Yes the private reserves are bunched together and yes there is a fence on the extreme western border.

Off topic,mkhonzo WAS a ranger at Sabi Sabi??? :-? :-? :-?
safarinut is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2006, 06:11 PM
  #22  
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Hi all,

Thank you for all your suggestions.

Predator Biologist - news to me that Sandibe is openly marketed as a birder's paradise - as I made my preferences known very clearly when making this trip through CCA that I am not a birder (as yet)! Also interesting that you say it has an emphasis on water activities - I was only offered a very quick boat ride on my morning of departure, and I saw a purple heron, that was it! I am thinking that "wilderness areas" are not me at all.

Brandywine - no the off roading I was told was not a CCA policy, but a restriction set by the reserve to minimize the damage to the reserve. Londolozi has far fewer restrictions for off roading, but they did have some, though not for cat viewing.

Matt - I agree that it was not a birder's paradise. We also off roaded for lion, but that was it as well.

John - it may have been me, though I do not remember doing so. I mostly book directly now, CCA was the exception. I initially tried a few out of Melbourne and was less than thrilled with them.

Kind regards,

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2006, 06:13 PM
  #23  
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Hi safarinut,

Your last comment explains a lot. I should have guessed!

Kind regards,
Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2006, 06:51 PM
  #24  
 
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Kaye,

I guess there could be a couple of Aussie Kayes in Queensland It's interesting that you should mention Melbourne, as that's where my agent is: African Wildlife Safaris. If you tried them, I'm surprised they turned you off as I've used them for 10 years with a great deal of satisfaction. But then, they have expanded their interests in the past couple of years and now cover India, Canada, the Galapagos, Antarctica and so on, so maybe they weren't as welcoming to a new client as they should have been. I usually find the bigger an outfit gets, the more out of touch with its customers it becomes. The other Melbourne agent I know something of, Peregrine, should also have guided you to a great package with no disappointments. I've travelled with one of their Africa experts. If you change your thinking about Botswana at any time and need some personal contacts at either of these organisations, email me jfm at afrigalah dot com

John
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Aug 23rd, 2006, 07:53 PM
  #25  
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PART 2 - SOUTH AFRICA 14.7.06 - 25.7.06

Night in Johannesburg was OK though I hated missing two gamedrives. Arrived at the International Airport at 8.30am for flight to Londolozi, and waited for another 6 guests to arrive. Was thrilled that two of them were from Sydney NSW as we had just had the final of three games of State of Origin Rugby League, and it was one all when I left and Queensland (that is me) won and NSW (that is them) lost, for the first time in a few years so I was dying to tell someone that news and that poor fellow and his wife were the ones.

OK I shall move on! I understood the flight to Londolozi was direct, but I was incorrect - due to some airstrip battles with the authority over airstrips, Londolozi can no longer land directly on their own field, but must stop in Sukuza and you transfer to a smaller plane and go onto your lodge.

I was in Founders Camp for the 1st five nights, so after signing papers and waiting for my room to be ready, I was shown to my room. It was a lovely surprise after my previous experience at Bateleur Room #10. This one was spacious with somewhere comfortable to sit and with a nice bathroom. So I was a happy camper so far. The first gamedrive I was without my ranger for my 10 day stay, as he had been detained at Durban. So I set out with Paul, now the Operations Manager, who was equally keen to be out. I was introduced to my tracker, quite famous I am told, Elmon, and I have seen him in a few documentaries with John Varty. I had a private gamevehicle which was great and I thank Londolozi for that thoughtful gesture, especially when passing vehicles overloaded with people!

Before dark and in good light we had our first leopard sighting, a male identified by ranger and tracker as the Short Tail Male (last December he was the Short Tail Young Male). The next day this was changed after Andrew, my ranger for the rest of my stay, saw a photo and said I had actually seen the Mhangene Male.
The next day we saw the Short Tail Male (MalaMala's Bicycle Crossing Male) and I love seeing the same leopards each trip to see how they are faring. He was going very well and looked in great nick. This morning also saw a pair of secretary birds which is always exciting because they are such odd looking birds and I was able to get a reasonable photo. Today I was also having a friend from Singita come and have lunch with me. She brought her husband and 7 month old baby boy with her. Londolozi and staff were very gracious in this regard and we had a wonderful lunch and they were invited to return before I left for another lunch, and they did do this, so that made my stay at Londolozi a bit more special otherwise I would not have seen Angel that trip, nor meet her husband or baby.

Angel must have been my good luck charm as that afternoon I got something from my wishlist. A relaxed serval sighting - true was wishlist also included 1 to 3 kittens, but I took what I had - a relaxed subadult that we were with for nearly one hour, coming to within a couple of metres of our vehicle. Elmon in his 37 years had only had 4 sightings of serval, and not one that was so relaxed as this little gem. The serval made 2 kills, and in a photo I have, the poor mouse's face reflects the horror of capture. I know how lucky I was, I hope the people in the other vehicle realised how lucky they were!

I put in a request for both lion and leopard cubs. Andrew and Elmon tracked over 3 days for the leopard cubs, an hour or so at a time, while I was on guard duty on the vehicle which is a bit boring, but I know how worthwhile tracking can be, so a small small price to pay!

We had a great sighting of the Sunsetbend Female (MalaMala's Ngoboswan Female) one of my favourites who had been feeding in a tree, but was relaxing on the ground - unfortunately she did not have her 6 month old male cub with her, and I wanted to see him. So back we went in the afternoon and sure enough, he was present and with great difficulty I eventually got my photo. All of our (well Elmon and Andrew really) tracking on the cubs paid off this afternoon, and it happened that we had a bit a luck as well. Elmon was convinced the Mxabene Female leopard and her two cubs were in a certain section, and we did the boundary ride while he walked it and he was sure they had gone in and not out, except for a small stretch in front of the den site, so we drove there and a big fat nothing. So as we sat there waiting on the boss, which was Elmon of course, on our next move, we heard the distinctive sound of bone being crushed - and lo and behold when we drove through the gully and up about 4 metres, there she was, the Mxabene Female feeding on a bushbuck kill. We were all so thrilled, as she had been without food at least 2-3 days now, and all you can think about is she needs a feed to keep those babies alive. Then out of the long grass came a leopard cub, 3 month old and while we were wondering where the other one was, from behind us came a hyena. It was a dreadful moment! I am pleased I did not throw myself out of the vehicle to protect the leopard, not that she needed my help, but I wanted her not to lose that kill! Luckily not much left, and she gave it up without a fight, but then 2 more hyena were there, and this time she charged in, in order to give the cubs time to escape I am sure. The cub we saw ran up a tree right near us and the other one that we didn't see seemed to run towards a termite mound with a hyena in pursuit. The Mxabene Female watched the cub in the tree then after a minute or two, while the hyena were still sniffing around for more food, she headed after the other cub, called to it and then headed away from the hyena and the treed cub, which was safe but obviously nervous. We ended up following the female and cub who had a happy reunion, after some terrifying moments. The treed one kept calling but mum and cub kept their distance. After about 15 minutes, the female with cub in pursuit headed back to the treed cub but as she got closer a hyena rushed at her, again she took it on, in order to give the 2nd cub time to fly up a tree. She lay down and groomed looking as if she had not a worry in the world, while the 2 cubs were positioned quite uncomfortably up different trees and I was trying to regain my wits, after losing them for quite a few moments. It was around this time a landowner appeared, as though I was asked if I wanted to leave, it was obvious that we were going to leave and let the landowner take our position. It really shows you that this is life and death, and over my visit there, when we found the Mxabene Female on the hunt, both myself and Andrew chose to leave her to it, because I didn't want to ruin her chances of food, and I believe, and I have argued it a few times, that we do have an impact on a hunt, no matter how careful we are.

Londolozi have many water holes, and we did not return from morning gamedrives until I had seen something great at a waterhole. I was lucky with many sightings, even the hippo all lying like fat grubs was great. A goliath heron fishing or a huge croc sunning himself would classify, so it wasn't usually too hard! Around camp, I photographed a lot of birds, some easier than others, luckily I am persistant and I had plenty of time to walk between the four camps.

The next afternoon I had another leopard/hyena interaction, though this one was not quite so dramatic. The Sunsetbend Female had another kill up a tree and was feeding, while watching a hyena down below. Then from a thick bush, the male cub appeared carefully watching his Mum up the tree, and I am not sure if he was aware of the hyena, but he wanders off to the tree base and then in rushes the hyena. The cub seemed to hesitate as if he knew it wasn't a good idea to head towards Mum and her meal, but also not a good idea to take on the hyena, so up the tree he flew and lay down watching the hyena and waiting his turn for lunch, which did happen after a short time passed. He is a handsome boy, so with Londolozi's poor record in recent years of leopard cub survival, I am hoping that it changes with the current number of cubs and that at least some survive.

The next day we had my first cheetah sighting, a male, who was watching some wildebeest with more than a passing interest, even though he was in full view up on a fallen branch making no effort to conceal himself. Then all of a sudden, in he raced and he split two subadults away from the herd. Unfortunately we lost contact with him as he raced away, so we missed it, but he actually got one around the nose, but the subadult fought back and escaped. Within minutes a hyena was there but nothing happened between the two as no food.

That afternoon we saw the 2 x 3 month old leopard cubs of the Mxabene Female up a tree feeding off an impala, the female was not visible and it was getting close to 10.30-11am so the light looking up was horrible, so we watched a while then gave up as the glare was not good.

The next morning we were returning our lion cub hunt. As we headed north, we came across 2 lionesses of the Tsalala Pride, one is heavily pregnant and one has 3x4 month old cubs, the ones we have been tracking. They also had the ever present male with them. Beautiful looking lionesses that I had seen last December and it is their mother who lost her tail to a hyena or lion last December, though for whatever reasons, they have not joined up with her. The cubs were not with them and they moved to the west over a boundary. Returning towards camp we found the Ximovenyane Pride, 2 lionesses and 7 large cubs finishing off a zebra kill, very little left as only one male cub feeding. Then by luck, we found the Vomba female leopard heading towards the Sand River, but she lost us very easily, as she has cubs as well that I was hoping to see.

That afternoon, I was lucky enough to see a Puff Adder, we almost ran it over. We all jumped out of the vehicle as I wanted a closer photo, but unfortunately it went down a hole. I always see more snakes in winter than in summer and I do love the variety that reptiles add to my gameviewing.

To try and complete my leopard list of territorial male leopards, we saw the Camp Pan Male the next morning - again a lovely looking male, but then I think they all are, so maybe not the best judge. Also that morning we found the Styx Pride lioness with the older Split Rock male, having a face off with a buffalo herd, with all the huge bulls at the front. The lionesses had blood on their faces, so we guessed that they may have killed something small but did not really know what had happened. We would find out the story that afternoon.

Had two beautiful Giant Plated Lizards right near my room, I have now switched over to Pioneer Camp Suite #6. Got some great photos and also of a lizard/skink similar in size to a rainbow skink but black with whitish bands around the body. Does anyone know what this is? Elmon has seen them but Andrew had never seen them.

Quickly about the different rooms and camps, as this is not a feature of my trip unless it is bad. Both camps were good, the staff were all fabulous! The suite at Pioneer was nice with the fireplace, but not cold enough to use as the room was warm enough, so for me, a decorative item like the plunge pools, which even in December/beginning of January I have never been tempted to use. I actually preferred the chalet at Founders, as a more open feel and though not as big as the Pioneer suite, I found for me or probably even with a niece travelling with me, the layout was better with less wasted space. The money difference was enough, that I would feel if I returned that the money would be better in my pocket. As already mentioned, I never got the feel of the evening meal, as I had bread and fruit salad each evening in my room, so I cannot comment on the boma feel, but to me breakfast and lunch were similar at both places, with the chefs going out of their way to make sure you have everything you need. I mentioned many times about the huge amount of food brought to me at lunch, enough to feed 3-4 people, and it does seem wasteful, but they tell me that people would then complain about not enough food, although my experience is that most travellers are not at all reluctant to mention that they require more food!

Hopefully I shall work on this again tomorrow.

Kind regards,

Kaye

KayeN is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 02:08 AM
  #26  
lbj
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kaye,

one of the main problems with sandibe is the size of their concession. If memory serves me right, it stands at around 8-9,000 hectares. The rest of the 12,000 hectares is taken up by chitabe. Sandibe's position towards the top of the santichitabe, the bit that sticks out in the delta, means that in high flood years, alot of territory is lost. In 2004, when the huge flood arrived, only the main road was usable through the area!

In terms of offroading, the concesssion policy is there because of its small size relative to the number of vehicles. 8,000 hectares soon gets ripped up pretty quickly in my experience, especially following a wet year.

I would echo the sentiments of everyone else. 2006 has not been a normal year for southern africa, so viewing has been thrown slightly. Head to the linyanti, duba, vumbura around august spetember time and you will be blown away
 
Aug 24th, 2006, 06:28 AM
  #27  
 
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Kaye

You are worse than a TV writer with the cliffhangers in mid trip report. Well done on seeing Secretary Birds in SSGR, I have one sighting in 1999, and didn't realize it was a big deal, and to get a decent picture is amazing, every time we see them in Bots, which is frequently, they head in the opposite direction.

Nut - is that just supposition?
napamatt is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 06:51 AM
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Thank you for your Zimbabwe/Botwsana and SSGR comparison and contrast.

Glad you got to see some Sable at least.

I think the excessive rains have impacted the late winter/early spring game viewing in Botswana. I just returned and experienced less game than I recall from the past and my guides verified my observations.

I noted your request for lion cubs and leopard cubs in the Sabi Sands, which met with success.

Naive question: Is the game there so prolific that all you need to do is concentrate on certain species and you are likely to find them? I cannot imagine requesting leopard cubs at other lodges/camps. Maybe asking, "have you seen any leopards around and do they have any cubs?" Even so, seeing them would be a lucky find.

I'm just trying to get a feel for my first Mala Mala visit next June. You'd be the one to know with the years you have spent there.

Serval sightings are always great and to see a serval kill is outstanding.

Another question--do you or does anyone know anything about the lodge Arathusa in Sabi Sands.

Lastly, Kaye, with all your SA experience, have you ventured to Phinda? Any Phinda comments?
atravelynn is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 07:23 AM
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Kay, we saw that tail-less lion at MalaMala. Leon said she had a very hard time hunting for awhile. She wasn't good at it until she got used to not having the tail for balance.

And seeing the serval like you did must have been great. I imagine it must have been scary watching the cubs with the hyena around.

We saw a strange interaction between a leopard and a hyena. It was at night and we found a leopard laying in the grass just rubbing all over a bone. This went on awhile. There was a hyena behind a tree not far away and he walked over towards the leopard. The L left the bone and the hyena picked it up and chewed on it awhile. Then the H left and the L came back. The L just rubbed all over the bone again. Then the H came back, the L left. The H chewed on the bone awhile and left. The L came back. By then, other vehicles were arriving so we moved on. 4 pictures of this start here http://www.pbase.com/cjw/image/63982746. Very strange.

atravelynn - on our first game drive at MalaMala, I told our ranger that I had never seen a leopard in a tree and I hoped to see one this trip. He just raised his eyebrows, smiled and said we'll see what we can find. It wasn't 45 minutes later that we saw 2 female leopards running and they ran up a tree! You could hear their claws gripping into the bark as they ran.

The ranger explained that female leopards are territorial and 2 females don't belong in the same area. Instead of fighting, the "invader" ran up the tree and the other followed her. The "chaser" didn't go as high up in the tree as the invader did. She stayed a few minutes and then ran down the tree. The invader stayed at the top of the tree for another 12 minutes or so before she started climbing down the tree. We saw several other leopards in trees during the 5 night stay at MM. Very exciting!
sundowner is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 09:23 AM
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Kaye: glad your viewing at Londolozi was so spectacular. Great report, looking forward to the next installment.

Safarinut: No doubt Sabi Sand is an important part of the Greater Kruger system but the majority of the predators range is going to be confined to the Sabi Sand vicinity. Sabi Sand is 65,000 hectares with over 30 lodges, so very conservatively there are over 300 tourists in 50+ vehicles traversing the area a couple times a day. By comparison the Duba Plains concession is 30,000 hectares and has 12 beds, 2 or 3 vehicles out a day in an area that is almost half the size of the Sabi Sand area. Kwando has only 4 camps and less than 15 vehicles out a day on over a million acres. My point is animals in the Sabi Sand virtually have to be highly habituated to exist there and thus you have unparalleled consistency with relaxed viewing. In less touristed areas of Botswana (and even within parts of Kruger) with room to avoid vehicles it is going to be more hit or miss, cerain individuals will become very habituated, others may never become habituated and some may have relaxed moments with limited tolerance. I just think its helpful for planning to understand these differences and that a Sabi Sand experience is very different from typical viewing in a wilderness area -- there are advantages to both and I think a mix of experiences is great but it can be disappointing for those who are used to finding 4 different relaxed leopards every day to come to Botswana and find a different kind of experience where there are not 10 other guides radioing you sighting information on animals that will often tolerate your presence for long periods of time. Conversely for others, the high density of lodges and tourists and even the feeling that the animals are too relaxed can be less preferred.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 12:50 PM
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Hi Kaye,
Thanks for all your information as I am trying to decide on my next destination for 2007.

BTW, did you work at the PA hospital? I lived in Brisbane for 2 years back in 1981 and worked with a Kaye that loved to travel, just thought I would throw it out there just in case it was you! ( this world can be so small you know)
CarlaM is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 05:54 PM
  #32  
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Hi lbj

If that is true, then it is a poor peak season, when you pay those rates you expect peak season gameviewing. I understand about the road being ripped up, but don't charge those high rates.

Hi Matt,

Sorry, I could not help myself, well I could of, but chose to be overly dramatic. Yes I was really pleased to see those Secretary Birds and to see 5 in the one trip was amazing, I saw one at MM one year but as we drove closer, it moved away.

Hi Lyn,
Yes, I was pleased with the 3 sable bulls, would have liked a breeding herd, but can't always have what you want! Regarding the cubs, I was told about both those cubs, and while I wanted to see them, Elmon really wanted to track them, but with guests only there 2-3 nights, very few will allow tracking to be done on a large scale, while I was OK with that, especially when the results were so worthwhile. There was minimum luck with the cubs, it took my tracking team hours walking in bush picking up every clue, so to me, it was their hard work more than luck, though my luck that they were prepared to put in the hard work! Have not heard of Arathusa and have not been to Phinda, though Hari should be back soon with her Phinda comments.

Hi Predator Biologist,

The Kruger Park is huge, and I find it hard to believe that the majority of predators will be confined to the Sabi Sand area. What would all the Kruger Park visitors be seeing? Cats pass through on occasion that are really quite nervous, and are assumed to be from Kruger because they can avoid humans and cars. It is a choice which you prefer, I certainly prefer animals I can get reasonably close to and are relatively relaxed around vehicles, as that is why I go, to spend days looking for animals and see them from a distance I do find very disappointing. Coming across a cat that is not used to vehicles and pursuing it, seems almost abusive, so I like them to be comfortable around the vehicles.
Hi Carla,
No am not in the medical field and have never worked at the PA hospital.

Now for the next bit.

Kind regards,

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 06:54 PM
  #33  
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CONTINUED PART 2 - SOUTH AFRICA 14-25 JULY 2006

In the afternoon we decided to check up on the Styx Pride and buffalo. They were nowhere to be seen, but visitors to one of the landowners told us they had been with them for quite a while and the lions were right down into a donga, that they could not get into. It seems that this morning, they did kill a buffalo calf but the bulls rushed in and chased the lions off the calf, and would not let them get the carcass back. After lunch, the buffalo moved on and all the lionesses rushed to the kill, but the older Split Rock Male also raced in and tried to take the kill. This he did, but it came with a lioness attached and not for a second did she let go. Apparently, this speaks volumes of his standing with the pride, as they all should have backed off when he took over the kill, but that is what I have to love about the Styx Pride, they are tough! We could hear them growling and carrying on, but no visual at all! So Andrew drove around the other side of the donga and a poor visual at best. So they (Andrew and Elmon) both decided we should go right into the donga and I agreed to go for it. It is slightly disconcerting when you cannot see the ground in front of the vehicle and while Elmon just wanted to plunge over the side, luckily Andrew was slightly more cautious. Eventually we did get right into the donga and had a reasonable view though they were in a bush on the side, then when the male was resting with his big paw on the body, she decided to make her move. She grabbed the body and ran for it! Once again my heart is in my mouth because I am so worried she will injure herself as those donga sides can be mighty steep and it would be horrible to see her fall and have a serious injury. The male got the body back in his mouth within a few metres of us, though slightly obscured by a bush, naturally the lioness was still attached. Then another lioness and a large cub made their way down. At one stage, each one was just above my head peering down into the vehicle at us and I do wonder what they are thinking! Other vehicles arrived at the site, and all decided not to go in as they all thought we would have difficulty getting out. They were right! It must have taken about 20 minutes to get out and the hardest part was getting up the first rise, at an angle with no run off, as we were in a narrow donga. But Andrew did a great job, and we made it out with injuries to no-one.

Heading back that night, I crossed of another animal on my wishlist. A relaxed sighting of a large spotted genet - it was eating something up a tree, and when finished proceeded to have a quick rest. We were quite close, so another good photo opportunity! That was good luck!

The next morning, as I am lying in the vehicle, while Andrew and Elmon were tracking those elusive lion cubs of the Tsalala Pride, I am thinking that I am running out of days, and maybe I will not see them this time. When Andrew comes back to the vehicle at speed, convinced that the lions were right where we were. He and Elmon had been tracking in very thick scrub and they heard movement that they were sure were the lions, quickly moving away from where they both were on foot. As usual, Elmon keeps looking while Andrew and I do small circles around where we were. We found the male, and call Elmon to us, and then we wait for the male to lead us to the females and this he did in no time. Not only to the females, but also to the cutest little cubs all feeding after that horrible scare they had received by people on foot. We let them calm down and have a feed, then we were able to move closer for some photos. They were so cute and with those curious little faces, you can almost read their minds. So again that tracking paid off! On the way back, saw a huge croc and watched a grey heron spear a bream which topped off a great morning.

This afternoon we saw the Ximovenyane Pride lazing on burnt ground, two lionesses and 7 cubs around 17-19 months of age, not an easy group to feed. They were on a zebra carcass a few days ago, and probably needed another big meal now as they also had a male with them, and he is the Castleton Male whom I have seen a few times at Singita. Then we headed towards the MalaMala border where the Sunsetbend Female and her 6 month old male cub had been seen. When we got there, they had two vervet monkeys up two small acacia trees. The monkeys were carrying on as only monkeys and baboons can. The cub was incredibly persistent, and kept going up the centre of the tree, but the monkey would move a bit to the left or a bit to the right, then the cub would retreat and the monkey would reposition himself into the centre and off the whole process would go again. The female leopard sat to one side with this flicking tail that shouted she would love to bring down this monkey. Eventually, the leopards moved to one side and one monkey made his escape. Both leopards ran back in but were too late. The cub tried again a few times and it really looked like the monkey had won. Then, that monkey made a decision, that I could have told him was a big mistake. When both leopards lay down, the monkey fled the tree for a taller one. You could not believe how quick that Sunsetbend Female could be, like greased lightning! For a mature leopard she was incredibly quick, the monkey did not have a chance in hell, she ran him down in less than 10 minutes and it was all over red rover!

She presented the dead body to the cub, who pounced and tackled the poor dead monkey repeatedly. After about 15 minutes he proceeded to pluck and then eat, while the mother watched obviously pleased with his work! Both leopards were bloody in places, as a result of going up and in that acacia thorn tree. But for all money, she was laying down and grooming one second, then in for the kill in the next second. Witnessing kills is not one of my priorities, if I see it I see it, but to be so close to that skill and power was an amazing scene to watch. If memory serves me, sometimes it does, she is now over 14 years of age, according to the records of Londolozi, but she did not look it when she took off after that monkey!

The last full day gave me a final look at the Ximovenyane Pride heading off towards another property, looking out for a meal. Then we found Short Tail Male watching some Nyala before doing the rounds of the dams looking for anything interesting. Had my Singita guests again today, and again the staff at Pioneer were fantastic and welcoming. In the afternoon, we again found the Mxabene Female Leopard on a bushbuck kill, while not great for the bushbuck, I was delighted for her to be getting good meals after a lean few days. My final photos were of my lovely guinea fowl.

The flight back to Johannesburg was listed at 9.30am and I was taken to the airport at 9.15am, when we get a call saying they are ready to leave, move it! Small plane full of people including a beautiful golden retreiver and a cranky looking landowner who looked less than happy with us, but my flight said depart Londolozi at 9.30am. Had a quick stop to change into a bigger plane, then an uneventful flight to Johannesburg where I had a reasonably tight connection. Arrived Johannesburg at 11.10am and had to wait for said landowner family to identify their luggage, so I could take mine and make a quick getaway to the international airport about 20 mins away, though we seemed to make it take about 5 mins after the driver was told to vamoose! Didn't have a long wait before I left at 12.50pm to Hong Kong. Had a 17 hour stopover in HK, where I did a bit of shopping, had a high tea at the Peninsula and then more shopping before heading back to the airport. Then I had an hour stopover in Cairns before arriving back in Brisbane, nearly 2 days later.

That is it really, but shall have some help over the weekend to hopefully get the photos up. This trip was all digital so that made it a bit easier.

Kind regards,
Kaye

KayeN is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 08:45 PM
  #34  
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Kaye: so right about predators throughout Kruger. I did not do a good job with my wording -- what I meant was that the individual predators you see in the Sabi Sand have ranges that are mostly contained within the Sabi Sand Reserve. Later on I did discuss that predators inside remote areas of Kruger would be more comparable to Botswana. Sorry for any confusion. Glad your trip finished off strong and that you found the lion cubs!
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Aug 24th, 2006, 11:20 PM
  #35  
mv
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 281
Kaye

I am sorry to hear that you didnt like Botswana.
2006 has been a strange year and the high rainfall in February has definitely affected the gameviewing (to the worse).
The high rainfall meant that the grass had very good growing conditions. It also meant that most of the pans held water (they should be drying out by now) for much longer than normal. This in turn meant that most animals could stay in the Mopane areas longer than normal. This in turn meant that there were fewer Buffaloes and Elephants to trample and feed on the grasses in the more traditional gameviewing areas. With the long grasses the predator viewing has not been up to par as you can read from several reports.
The pans should be dry by now and most of the long grass gone so game viewing should be back to normal.
Another effect of the good rains is that certain concessions had less dry ground to travel on which ofcourse also would affect the gameviewing.
I hope that you will give Botswana another chance as gameviewing normally is spectacular.
Michael
mv is offline  
Aug 25th, 2006, 12:52 AM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 836
Kaye,
What fantastic game viewing in SA - all those babies! and your guides really seemed as if nothing was too much trouble. Sorry to read that Botswana wasn't up to par. It's good to get a different viewpoint, especially if all isn't rosy, as sometimes expectations can be very high when we (me in particular) read all those glowing reports.

Thanks for posting,

Imelda
OnlyMeOirish is offline  
Aug 25th, 2006, 05:44 AM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Kaye,

So many lion prides! To see the leopard kill the monkey at such lightning speed was amazing. Good thing you did not blink.

When you mentioned about wanting to track certain species and other guests being there a shorter time with different priorities, it makes me wonder what your thoughts on a private vehicle at Mala Mala are.
atravelynn is offline  
Aug 25th, 2006, 05:59 AM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,547
Your trip sure ended on a high note, Kaye. Great sightings! I'll bet the leopard/monkey was amazing to see. And the lions fighting over the calf. Wow! Looking forward to the pics.

Cindy
sundowner is offline  
Aug 25th, 2006, 03:15 PM
  #39  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 993
Hi Imelda,
I think I do expect a lot, and to me, there is nothing wrong about that. But that often comes from what I read on the internet about a certain camp, and I feel that they obviously give you all the positives, and never mention the negatives. To me, SA rangers, as a whole, are way more prepared to go the extra mile, but I think some reserves in other countries are severly restricted in what they can do.

Hi Lyn,
I have never arranged a private vehicle at MalaMala, though I have often had one. Way too much money! Although after Londolozi, it is tempting, as I skip the coffee before you leave camp and sundowners and you, along with ranger and tracker choose what you look at. I never fail to get one horrendous group, but I am reluctant to complain and I think I shall start complaining as it really is most difficult, but I often feel it is only for a few days then they move on, but sometimes a few days is a few days too long.

Hi Cindy,
Am going to work on those pics!

Kind regards,

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Aug 26th, 2006, 05:06 AM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Kaye,

I know, the cost-benefit analysis usually comes down on the side of NO private vehicle.
atravelynn is offline  

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