Friday, July 25, 2014

2014 LIONS & LEOPARDS of Mala Mala - July

The July trip has just ended and the move towards the "dry season" is becoming more and more evident, waterholes are drying up, the bush is turning into its winter colours and the early mornings were particularly cold !! :)

Our first stop was the Big Cat Reserve and some highlights were the lion pride feeding on a giraffe, night photography of the leopards and the porcupines, the female King Cheetah, Floppy and Hunters the resident male Cheetahs out on patrol and a great sighting of the three elephants, Becky, Malutka and Juba !!

Thanks very much to Ben our Ranger for looking after us and all the staff at Tshukudu.

Next stop was a 4 night stay inside the Kruger National Park at Satara camp. As water levels begin to drop the animals are beginning to concentrate along the river lines and large reservoirs. On our first day we found a young male lion trailing far behind the rest of his pride, a  very cooperative common Duiker, lots of beautiful Lilac Breasted Rollers, large herds of elephants and the two main highlights were a herd of 800 plus Cape Buffalo who all arrived at Girivana waterhole and filled it up completely. Lions were close behind and they ran in on the buffalo a couple of times without success. On our final morning we found two male cheetahs on the road south towards Skukuza. We got some great images of them as they scent marked and looked out for potential prey.

Our last stop was a three night stay at Mala Mala, where the focus shifted to Lions and Leopards. We had great success with both - starting with our first sighting of the Marthli Pride barely 20 mins after we left camp. The large Lioness without a tail is always an interesting sight.

We continued our drive in search of the cubs of the "Kekelezi female" and found them resting in a dry mud wallow, it is always a real privilege to see these cats, and even more special to see cubs.

During our stay we also found a male Leopard known as the "Tree house male" and he was busy stalking Impala. He did not succeed on this occasion but we still managed to follow him after dark before we left him near the Sand River.

We had a brief encounter with "PAP" another dominant Male Leopard in the area.

One Highlight was finding the Kekelezi female with her two cubs as well as the "Airstrip Male" leopard all at the same kill site. To see a male leopard around cubs is very rare, but it is believed that the Airstrip male is the father of the two cubs and is tolerant towards them.

On a bit of a concerning note, we later heard that "PAP" (Princess Alice Pans Male Leopard) had arrived at the kill too and fought with the "Airstrip Male" over the carcass and seemingly won the fight. The cubs and the female would have scattered to get away and at the time of our departure only one of the cubs had been seen again with the female which might suggest that "PAP" could have killed the other cub, but we hope to hear news that both cubs are back with the female Leopard.

Our final highlight was spending some quality time in a perfect position opposite 9 Cape Hunting Dog puppies who proceeded to run up and down in front of us playing like puppies do. This pack is now mobile so to find them is extremely difficult. We were very fortunate to have seen this once in a lifetime sighting..

Thanks very much to Jonno our Ranger for looking after us and to all the Mala Mala staff.

Thank you also to Erik, David and Bridget who joined us on this safari, we certainly did have some amazing sightings that not many people get to see, it was a pleasure having you on the trip..

Here are some photos - best regards

Stu


Lioness with subadult Male - Big Cat Reserve

Bagheera the female Leopard - Big Cat Reserve

A sub adult male Lion with the Giraffe Kill - - Big Cat Reserve

The King Cheetah lying next to Hunters - Big Cat Reserve

Lion pride feeding on the giraffe - Big Cat Reserve

Hunters grooming himself, the "dew claw" is clearly visible - Big Cat Reserve

Malutka, Juba and Becky, the three elephants at the Big Cat Reserve

One of the young female Leopards at night - Big Cat Reserve

A Porcupine arrives - Big Cat Reserve

Male Impala alert after spotting a Lion close by - Kruger National Park

The young male lion we found on our first afternoon - Kruger National Park

A very cooperative Common Duiker - Kruger National Park

The Cape Buffalo at Girivana waterhole - Kruger National Park

Lilac Breasted Roller - Kruger National Park

Herd of elephants at Nsemani Dam - Kruger National Park

The two Cheetah brothers we saw on our final morning - Kruger National Park

A Lioness and a cub of the Marthli Pride - Mala Mala

Three of the cubs of the Marthli Pride - Mala Mala

Siesta time - Mala Mala

The adult Lioness without a tail - Mala Mala

Marthli Lions - Mala Mala

A spotted Hyaena  - Mala Mala

One of the cubs of the "Kekelezi Female Leopard"  - Mala Mala

Night drive at Mala Mala

Red Billed Oxpecker - Mala Mala

Barred Owlet - Mala Mala

Male Greater Kudu - Mala Mala

Buffalo calf with oxpecker - Mala Mala

Elephant herd - Mala Mala

"Tree House Male Leopard"  - Mala Mala

Tree house male stalking Impala  - Mala Mala

Tree house Male Leopard at night  - Mala Mala

Tree house male Leopard - Mala Mala

Tree House Male Leopard  - Mala Mala

Kekelezi female Leopard and one of her cubs - Mala Mala

"Airstrip Male Leopard" leaps with the remains of the Impala Kill as the cub watches - Mala Mala

Leopard cub feeding on the leg of an Impala - Mala Mala

Spotted Hyaena yawning - Mala Mala

Cape Hunting Dog puppies  - Mala Mala

Adult Cape Hunting Dog with a damaged eye - Mala Mala

Cape Hunting Dog Puppy - Mala Mala

Cape Hunting Dog adult - Mala Mala

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

TAILOR MADE PHOTO SAFARI - South Africa - June / July 2014

We have just completed an 18 day Tailor Made photo safari which included all the photo highlights on offer in and around the Kruger area in South Africa. Everything from landscapes, reptiles and vultures, to the famous "BIG 5" !!

First stop was the Blyde River Canyon for some waterfall and landscape photography, followed by a two night stay at Forest Camp where we enjoyed a full day of African Reptile Photography - many thanks again to Donald for providing us with such a great reptile experience :)

Tshukudu Game Reserve, Ngala Private Game Reserve and Mala Mala made up the following 9 nights where we were treated to great and varied sightings of that magnificent cat the Leopard. One of the highlights at Ngala was a visit to the Wilddog den site where we were lucky enough to see all 9 puppies and the adults returning from a successful hunt to regurgitate food for the youngsters. A female Leopard and her two large male cubs as well as two different Lion prides made the stay at Ngala extra special - many thanks to Andrew our ranger and Sam the expert tracker...

At Mala Mala we were once again well looked after by our ranger Brendan - thanks for another awesome stay Brendan !! it started off with a sighting of the small Charleston Pride - two sub adult males and a female - a first for me. Then we had a great run with Leopards, the cub of the Tamboti female, the Kekelezi female with her two cubs, the Nottens female with an impala kill, the West street male and that magnificent Male leopard the "bike"..

The stay was topped off on the final morning with a great sighting with a very small and wobbly baby elephant only a week or so old.

Finally we headed out into the Kruger National Park and based ourselves at Lower Sabie. Sunset Dam and Clyde's pan were on our agenda and we spent many hours sitting at these two bodies of water photographing the birds and mammals as they came down to drink.

Here are a few images from the trip we hope you will enjoy them.

Thanks again to all the staff at the lodges who made our stay so comfortable and to our rangers, Charles at Forest Camp, Matt at Tshukudu, Andrew at Ngala and Brendan at Mala Mala, thanks for getting us into those great positions for some excellent photos !!

A huge thanks to mum for the excellent catering in the Kruger !!

Thanks so much to Larry and Debbie for coming out on safari with us, it was an absolute pleasure to have been able to show you around the Kruger area - looking forward to the next trip with you..

Warm regards

Stu





Small waterfall on the Kadishi Trail - Blyde Canyon

Kadishi waterfall - Blyde Canyon

View of the Blyde Canyon and the Sundial with the Three Rondawels - Blyde Canyon

Bourke's Luck Potholes

Aloes in flower - near the "Pinnacle"

Blyde Canyon

Swadini Dam

Scarlet Chested Sunbird - Forest Camp

White Backed Vulture - Forest Camp

Boomslang - Reptile Park

Green Mamba - Reptile Park

Black Mamba - Reptile Park

Snouted Cobra - Reptile Park

Jabula - Big Cat Reserve

Male Greater Painted Snipe - Big Cat Reserve

Nile Crocodile - Big Cat Reserve

Cape Hunting Dog Puppy - Ngala Private Game Reserve

Cape Hunting Dog Den site - Ngala Private Game Reserve

Cape Hunting dog puppies playing - Ngala Private Game Reserve

Adult regurgitating food for the hungry puppies - Ngala Private Game Reserve

Puppy with the ear of an Impala - Ngala Private Game Reserve

One of the year old Male leopard cubs - Ngala Private Game Reserve

The second male Leopard cub  - Ngala Private Game Reserve

The female Leopard with her two large male cubs - Ngala Private Game Reserve

Male Lion - Ngala Private Game Reserve

Wildebeest - Ngala Private Game Reserve

A sub adult female from the Birmingham Pride - Ngala Private Game Reserve

A sub adult male from the Birmingham Pride - Ngala Private Game Reserve

The "Tekwane" female Leopard - Ngala Private Game Reserve

Two lions form the "Skoro" pride - Ngala Private Game Reserve

The two subadult Male Lions of the Charleston Pride - Mala Mala

The cub of the Tamboti female Leopard - Mala Mala

The Kekelezi female Leopard with one of her cubs - Mala Mala

A Coqui Francolin - Mala Mala

Collared Sunbird - Mala Mala

The Nottens female leopard - Mala Mala

Verreaux's Eagle Owl - Mala Mala

Dead tree and stars - Mala Mala

African Harrier Hawk swallowing a snake - Mala Mala

African Hawk Eagle - Mala Mala

Bicycle Crossing Male Leopard - "The Bike" - Mala Mala

Baby Elephant - Mala Mala

African Fish Eagle Landing - Kruger National Park

Young Hippos fighting - Kruger National Park

Young Hippos fighting - Kruger National Park

White Fronted Bee Eater - Kruger National Park

Southern Giraffe - Kruger National Park

Elephant Herd in the Sabi River - Kruger National Park

Gabar Goshawk - Kruger National Park

Spotted Hyaena and reflection - Kruger National Park

Impala and Reb Billed Oxpecker - Kruger National Park

Giraffe and Impala drinking at Clyde's pan - Kruger National Park

Impala - Kruger National Park

Egyptian Goose - Kruger National Park