Outstanding leopard sighting!

On Monday, Hendrick and his guests were treated to an amazing sighting. Unfortunately it all happened so fast that no one really captured all of it on film. It was one of those sightings that you can’t stop looking and completely forget to film.

Dawn and Alan captured the Leopard and kindly gave us the photos. Amazing guests! Many thanks! :-)

So what happened? Hendrick was driving along and tracking the lions on Nyala road. He saw the tracks move off and took a little to track. He saw the lions through the thicket and decided to approach. They were quite active and noisy and kept looking up into a very big Marula tree, it looked like the female was chasing something. As the vehicle approached Hendrick could hardly believe his eyes. There was a young leopard up the tree!! The Lions had managed to chase it up there and the leopard was looking rather nervous. The lions were circling the tree at the bottom and kicking up quite a fuss. The leopard jumped from one tree to the next and down and ran for his dear life! The lions did not see this happening and kept looking up the tree for Mr. Leopard (who was long gone by now) it was an amazing sighting, and that’s putting it mildly.

Even Hendrick said this was a once in a lifetime sighting, even for an experienced guide! Wow !! I wish I had been there myself, tell you what!

It’s definitely spring time!

Sightings have been abundant over recent days … elephants, cheetahs (on a kill!), lions, rhinos, giraffes, leopards, … just everyhing that is “standard” … and then so much more! Endless laughters about these two leopard tortoises enjoying a bit of a spring time fun! No comment … everyone is feeling a spring in his step, tell you what ;-)

Leopard Tortoise enjoying the heat of the moment ;-)
Leopard Tortoise enjoying the heat of the moment ;-)

On a less kinky note … we also found our cheetah brothers on a VERY fresh kill in the plains … this is the sort of sightings that you travel thousands of miles for. Unforgettable! Nature at its best, simple as that. If you stay 5-7 nights with us, you are quasi guaranteed an up-close cheetah sighting, and you don’t get that on many reserves. This is one hell of a rare animal. Only a few hundred are still left in the wild in South Africa, so you can imagine.

And then also some spectacular up-close sightings of our lions … resting in the shade of the bush … the kings and queens of the bush. And these two youngsters are just stunning! What a pleasure to see them do so well on our reserve. :-)

 

Nature is greening up fast

We have had a couple of big rain events over the last 4 weeks, and notably a few days ago, some parts of the reserve got over 80mm of rain, which is huge. Some rivers started flowing, so that is excellent news. As a result nature has greened up loads, and wildlife is rampant.

Today, zebras and cheetahs were tracked and found by Vuyani and MRL guides on the Riversdale Cutline. They were pretty chilled and didn’t move much. We sat with them about 10 minutes or so. We managed some beautiful shots of them. Just see below. :-)

We also tracked and found the elephants south of the Moditlo Main Gate, they were taking a drink of water and then
moved off in a Western direction. Our guests were beyond excitement to see these huge animals. Biggest animals on earth actually (if you take out sea animals)

We then went to the wild dog den site and they were pretty active. Running all over the place. We got a nice shot
with Hendrick in the driver seat. What a privilege to have these super rare animals on our reserve! It’s mind-numbing, if you just think about their rarity, actually.

We also tracked and found the lions east of the lodge – they were in the thicket and had taken something down, by the looks of it giraffe (they have really turned into very skilled lions, that’s for sure). We could not access this morning, but we will try again … we are not the ones t give up here at the Vuyani Safari Lodge! ;-)

Some seriously good photo footage

And just as nature is making a steady comeback, so are the spectacular sightings.

And the photo footage is a testimony of the many animals you can see when on safari on our large reserve. From the smallest and rarest, to the biggest and most impressive.

Just see for yourselves!

George the croc
George the croc
Playful elephants
Playful elephants
Male lion - fully grown!
Male lion – fully grown!

Amazing sightings as we enter the rainy season

This year’s dry season had turned into a proper drought … and it was close to making international news. But now first rains have arrived, and we can see fresh shoots everywhere. Well, it was time! Many animals were suffering badly, and quite a few dying of starvation. Grazers go first, such as warthogs and zebras for example, and then it gets worse. Through an emergency feeding program, the worst was avoided, and our rare animals have made it through. We are all all delighted … and proud!

So as the rainy season begins, sightings are absolutely fantastic. The last 2 days were just great.

We started off with a Cheetah Sighting on the Khaya cutline, they were taking a nap. We tracked and found the lions in conjunction with MRL guides on Cotton fields – the two young males are bonding nicely and are sprouting quite the mullet … ;-). They were not doing too much just napping and then “annoying” each other like siblings do. We managed some cool photos.

We tracked and found the elephants north of Jackal plains – they were all drinking and bathing at a waterhole. There is some cool video footage that was taken. It’s always fascinating to observe the surprisingly sophisticated social interaxtion between elephants. They are so kind to each other.

Aaaawwww :-D
Aaaawwww :-D

We also saw Brown Hooded Kingfisher, Hadeda Ibis, Crocodile, Nyala, Baboon and some awesome kudus!

What a pretty Kingfisher!
What a pretty Kingfisher!

We had a brief sighting of Rhinos also – they were on the move.

Great couple of days for our guests, we are spoiling them! ;-)

 

Finally!!

I always complain about not being able to go out on the reserve as much as I would like to, because of work, family, commitments, … but I now did, and it was so worth it! These are my own pictures. :-)

We specifically set out to see the wild dogs, which are denning far away at the northern end of the conservancy. After almost 2 hours (we stopped often to see other game), we finally got there. And it was so worth the drive! We bumbed into two of the pups, playing around at the den. After a short while, the rest of the pack got back, and we were fortunate enough to see one of the rarest sightings in Africa: social interaction between wild dogs!

Due to their specific ways of life, habits, social interactions, wild dogs have become quasi extinct in Africa. Only 2000-3000 specimen survive in the wild in Africa. So to know that not just one, but actually TWO packs are denning on our reserve, that is as exciting as one can imagine it. Conditions must be perfect here, and indeed they are.

It is a true privilege to witness such super-rare animals, and it is all the more rewarding to be sharing this sort of sightings with hundreds of guests from all over the world. It’s worth the trip, I can tell you that much.

After such excitement, an African sunset feels all the more special. I took a photo of our renovated swimming pool at dusk. Just beautiful … :-)

Please note also that all photos were taken by means of my Lumia 950. Just for those who are wondering. ;-)

First rains coming !! :-)
First rains coming !! :-)
View over the reserve
View over the reserve
Pack of wild dogs ...
Pack of wild dogs …
... up-close!
… up-close!

Great start to October

We have started October pretty well !!

I cannot really go into full detail of all animals we have been spotting over recent days, as it is just too many. Having said that, here some of the best pics our tracker managed to snap.

We saw a Croc at Diep Dam for instance, and that made for an amazing shot. See for yourselves!

He has become a big boy over the years!
He has become a big boy over the years!

We went to the den site and got some great shots of the Wild Dog – the puppies are growing SO fast. This is Africa’s second rarest carnivore, with only about 3000 specimen left in the wild. To be seeing them like that … it is arguably better than finding the rarest of gems. A true privilege. And a source of huge pride for our wildlife conservation efforts.

Wild Dog puppies!
Wild Dog puppies!

We also tracked and found the Cheetahs north of Pieter Janneke’s Khaya land. They had just caught a young
Kudu cow. We sat and watched them feed for about an hour. Amazing – we must have missed the kill by
minutes.


We tracked and found the elephants after days of searching on the Bokmakiere cutline – we took some great photos when we finally did find them.They were pretty relaxed and feeding. What a sighting … our guests were excited, to say the least.
One doesn’t see large elephants that up-close in many places …

Impressive elephants

We tracked and found the bull elephant near Porcupine Dam – he was being the perfect “model” and posed for
photos (even playing with a stick and giving himself a dust bath): a perfect photographic opportunity. I think the photo below is one of the most stunning shot we have ever managed of the male elephant. Great work!

The lions have been rather near each other (only about 3 kms apart), they were seen near Anaboom camp. The male had taken down a very skinny warthog and was snacking on it by himself. The rest of the pride were on the move – and we lost them in the thicket after a while. But our guests managed some stunning photos, and that’s what a safari is all about – experiencing these animals close-up in their natural habitat.

We are starting to be hopeful about the beginning of the rainy season soon(ish) … our reserve, of all reserves, seems to have suffered the least, but this year’s drought has been tough on many reserves. Food is scant, and you can see what the concept “survival of the fittest” sometimes really means in nature. It’s toughest near the finish line.

Male elephant
Male elephant
Lioness resting in th shade
Lioness resting in th shade

Hilary Martin – the full safari photo report

Now and then I have guests email in some of their best shots that they took during their stay with us. And I am happy to admit, it always makes me smile how amazing many of these sightings are. I myself don’t get to go out there nearly as often as I would love to, so it is a huge reward to see at last what our guests see … and boy, do they see things … wow!!!

Hilary had a great time here, and she has sent me the following shots, her favourite photos. And I can see why! Stunning, simply stunning.

Many thanks for allowing us to share them with our fans and future guests, that’s really kind. And many thanks for sharing these wonderful memories with us!

Hippo
Hippo

Not to be messed with!
Not to be messed with!
Up-close!
Up-close!
When do you get this close to an owl??
When do you get this close to an owl??
Checking out lunch ...
Checking out lunch …
Blyde River Canyon
Blyde River Canyon
Elephant herd crossing a dry river bed (am I stating the obvious??)
Elephant herd crossing a dry river bed (am I stating the obvious??)
Rare White Rhino!
Rare White Rhino!

Dry times

August is the peak of the dry season … but this year, things are particularly dry. This year’s rainy season wasn’t much to write home about, and that means tough times for wildlife in the dry season. Most of the animals have moved west nearer the mountain for feeding purpose – we are lucky in the sense that our reserve goes all the way to the foot of teh Drakensberg, so compared to other reserves, we are doing ok.

Nonetheless, we saw loads of amazing game … and visibility is superb, which most certainly is an advantage of the dry season. Very crisp photos too!

We saw Giraffe, Vervet Monkeys, Grey Turaco, Kudu, White Backed Vulture & Nyala.

We tracked and found the cheetahs on the Khaya Ndlovu line, they flopped down and started to groom each other, a bit of brotherly love in tough times ;-)

We also saw a crash of White Rhino … amazing!

We tracked and found the young lions on Muruti in a dry river bed – we snapped some great photos.

They were quite active and the young male’s mane has really started to “blossom”. I wonder how long daddy will tolerate him being around … I reckon not too much longer. He’s on his way to becoming competition, step by step. And dads don’t like competition, don’t we know that all? ;-)

Curious monkeys
Curious monkeys
Young lion
Young lion

Cheetahs
Cheetahs
Elephant
Elephant
Crash of rhinos
Crash of rhinos
White backed vultures
White backed vultures