LIONS and LEOPARDS of KRUGER photo safari - July 2014
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 15th Jul 2014
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 the Kruger National Park. 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 "Kikilezi 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 Kikilezi 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 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..
Enjoy some of the photos !
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From the moment we contacted Wild 4 we were impressed with the prompt, friendly, enthusiastic way our queries were answered. Stu is a passionate wildlife photographer eager to pass on skills, ideas, techniques and information. The wildlife sightings leopards, lions with cubs, rhinos, elephant herds the list goes on - Awesome, Amazing, Exciting are just a few words that come to mind. Not forgetting the support of John, Ann (excellent food) and of course Justyna nothing was to much trouble for them. We have had many safaris in various countries but this surpassed them all. The only decision now is not if, but when we return
Maureen & Trevor Lovegrove, UK
I've recently returned from a "Wild 4 Photo Safari" and can recommend them without reservation. Their skill, professionalism and expertise is excelled only by the standard of excellence shown in every aspect of the trip. From the logistics to the accommodation, the food to the transportation, their inside knowledge of African wildlife to their passion for what they do, every aspect SUPERB!! If you are looking for the ultimate "Photo Safari", this is it! I will definitely book again!!!
Del Hunter, UK