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Wild4 African Photographic Safaris

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LIONS and LEOPARDS of KRUGER photo safari trip report - July 2017

Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 29th Jul 2017

The first "Lions & Leopards of Kruger" photo safari began with the clients arrival at Hoedspruit airport. Due to a delay in the flight arrival time, we headed off to Ngala and went straight out on our first afternoon game drive. 

There is no better way to begin a 13 day photo safari than with a visit to one of the resident Ngala Lion prides known as the Birmingham pride. A few adult females with small cubs were in the group. The pride is suffering with a bit of Sarcoptic Mange, but they looked well fed having recently finished off a Buffalo kill. Our two night stay at Ngala offered another sighting of the Lions as well as good general game sightings of Zebra, Wildebeest, Common Waterbuck and Impala. The highlight was spending time with a beautiful young male Leopard known as the Black Dam Male, he was with the last remains of his latest kill that had also attracted the attentions of a few Spotted Hyaenas.

We met the Wild4 support team at the Kruger National Park's Orpen Gate, where we transferred into our own Open Safari Vehicle and headed off into the Kruger National Park where we spent the next 6 nights split between Satara camp in central Kruger and Lower Sabie in the South. Central and Southern Kruger offered wonderful early misty mornings, a great sighting of fighting Zebra, Greater Kudu, Giraffe, Impala, Bushbuck, Steenbok, Elephants, Southern Ground Hornbills, Male Lions, African Scops Owl, Nile Crocodiles, Bateleur Eagles, Wooly Necked Storks, a Male Leopard in a Leadwood Tree, Vervet Monkeys and a Hippo covered in Terrapins !!

The highlight from Kruger was without a doubt the Leopard kill we all witnessed at the N'waswitshaka waterhole (known locally as "Watergat") As we arrived at "Watergat" we noticed an older female Leopard hiding in a small gully. She was observing Impala as they came down to drink from the waterhole. After a few "almost" moments where the Impala was just not in the right position, the female leopard launched herself at a young male Impala and brought him down in full view of us and the other extremely lucky people that happened to be at the waterhole for that very brief moment in time.

I have been lucky to observe Leopards on many occasions, but this was the very first time that I witnessed and photographed a kill from start to finish, truly a once in a life time opportunity ! It certainly took me many years to see this, but for one client with us, it was his very first safari to Africa, such is the amazing way of mother nature !

Final stop on the trip was a 4 night stay at Mala Mala Private Game Reserve. The Lion dynamics at Mala Mala and surrounding area at the moment are certainly getting a shake up with new males moving in, others trying to avoid being detected and a new group of females known as the Kambula Lionesses. Things are by no means settled and the dynamics change on a daily basis. We did get to spend time with the two Avoca Males, we saw the three Manyeleti Males, as well as the three younger Marthly Males. We were fortunate to find the two Cheetah brothers in the north eastern part of the reserve and spent some time with them.

On our way back to camp one day, we bumped into a fresh Impala kill in a Fig Tree right next to the road. The Senegal Bush Male Leopard was responsible and we watched him first catch his breath, then climb into the tree and open up the Impala carcass. We also got to spend time with the Picadilli female Leopard who had just had her kill stolen by Hyaenas, the Tree House Male Leopard was photographed on patrol one night. The Island female Leopard was seen one morning. She is now thought to have dropped her new litter of cubs, and we followed her to the Sand River and photographed her crossing over to the eastern bank.

Other animals seen and photographed at Mala Mala included a brief late afternoon sighting of some African Wilddogs (this year with no den site as a result of the Alpha female being killed by Hyaenas), African Buffalo, large Elephant & Impala herds at the river, Nyala Antelope, Three banded Plovers, Hammerkop, Tawny Eagles, Greater Kudu, Common Duiker, Klipspringers, Side Striped Jackals and Nile Monitor Lizards.

Many thanks to all the lodge staff that looked after us at each location and also to our rangers, Shaun at Ngala and Theo at Mala Mala, thank you for your hard work and patience and for getting us into sightings and spending quality photographic time with the animals. Thanks also to the Wild4 back up team who looked after us so well in the Kruger National Park.

Finally, thank you to the participants, Andy and Patrick, it was great travelling with you both and we certainly did share some great experiences and photographic opportunities - oh boy that Leopard kill !!!

Enjoy some of the photos below.

Best wishes

Stu

Birmingham Pride Lions, Ngala
Birmingham Pride Lions, Ngala
Young Lion cub, Ngala
Young Lion cub, Ngala
The Birmingham Pride, Ngala
The Birmingham Pride, Ngala
Two young Lions showing symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange, caused by a burrowing mite
Two young Lions showing symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange, caused by a burrowing mite
African Buffalo, Ngala
African Buffalo, Ngala
White Backed Vultures, Ngala
White Backed Vultures, Ngala
Zebra and Wildebeest, Ngala
Zebra and Wildebeest, Ngala
Black Dam male Leopard, Ngala Game Reserve, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Black Dam male Leopard, Ngala Game Reserve, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Two Lionesses from the Birmingham Pride greet each other, Ngala
Two Lionesses from the Birmingham Pride greet each other, Ngala
Lioness from the Birmingham Pride, Ngala Game Reserve, Copyright Patrick Flora
Lioness from the Birmingham Pride, Ngala Game Reserve, Copyright Patrick Flora
Spotted Hyaena, Ngala
Spotted Hyaena, Ngala
Black Dam male Leopard, Ngala Game Reserve, Copyright Patrick Flora
Black Dam male Leopard, Ngala Game Reserve, Copyright Patrick Flora
Black Dam Male Leopard, Ngala
Black Dam Male Leopard, Ngala
Male Common Waterbuck, Ngala
Male Common Waterbuck, Ngala
Impala, Ngala
Impala, Ngala
Impala running, Ngala
Impala running, Ngala
Southern Giraffe, Kruger National Park
Southern Giraffe, Kruger National Park
Steenbok, Kruger National Park
Steenbok, Kruger National Park
Lilac Breasted Roller, Kruger National Park
Lilac Breasted Roller, Kruger National Park
Southern Ground Hornbills, adult and sub-adult
Southern Ground Hornbills, adult and sub-adult
African Scops Owl, Satara Camp, Kruger National Park
African Scops Owl, Satara Camp, Kruger National Park
Zebra's fighting, Central Kruger National Park
Zebra's fighting, Central Kruger National Park
Zebras fighting in the Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Zebras fighting in the Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Misty morning sunrise, Kruger National Park
Misty morning sunrise, Kruger National Park
Young Spotted Hyaenas, Kruger National Park
Young Spotted Hyaenas, Kruger National Park
Male Lions, Kruger National Park
Male Lions, Kruger National Park
Adult Martial Eagle taking off, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
Adult Martial Eagle taking off, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
Male Leopard near Kumana Dam, Kruger National Park
Male Leopard near Kumana Dam, Kruger National Park
Nile Crocodile, N'waswitsontso River, Kruger National Park
Nile Crocodile, N'waswitsontso River, Kruger National Park
Giraffe and Zebra, Kruger National Park
Giraffe and Zebra, Kruger National Park
Elephant dust bathing, Kruger National Park
Elephant dust bathing, Kruger National Park
Hippos and Elephants in the Sabi River, Kruger National Park
Hippos and Elephants in the Sabi River, Kruger National Park
Bateleur Eagle on the remains of an Impala, Kruger National Park
Bateleur Eagle on the remains of an Impala, Kruger National Park
Hippo in Sunset Dam, Kruger National Park
Hippo in Sunset Dam, Kruger National Park
Nile Crocodile, Sunset Dam, Kruger National Park
Nile Crocodile, Sunset Dam, Kruger National Park
Egyptian Geese, Sunset Dam, Kruger National Park
Egyptian Geese, Sunset Dam, Kruger National Park
Southern Giraffe drinking, Kruger National Park
Southern Giraffe drinking, Kruger National Park
Bateleur Eagles, Kruger National Park
Bateleur Eagles, Kruger National Park
Southern Ground Hornbill, Kruger National Park
Southern Ground Hornbill, Kruger National Park
Elephants at a natural water pan, Kruger National Park
Elephants at a natural water pan, Kruger National Park
Elephants mud wallowing, Kruger National Park
Elephants mud wallowing, Kruger National Park
Wooly Necked Stork, Kruger National park
Wooly Necked Stork, Kruger National park
Vervet Monkey, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Vervet Monkey, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Hippo covered in Terrapins at N'waswitshaka waterhole in the Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Hippo covered in Terrapins at N'waswitshaka waterhole in the Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Hippo covered in Terrapins at N'waswitshaka waterhole in the Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
Hippo covered in Terrapins at N'waswitshaka waterhole in the Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
The female Leopard moments before she charged, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
The female Leopard moments before she charged, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Female Leopard chasing after the young male Impala, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
Female Leopard chasing after the young male Impala, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
The female Leopard locking onto the Impala, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
The female Leopard locking onto the Impala, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
The Leopard grabs the Impala by the back of the neck, Copyright Patrick Flora
The Leopard grabs the Impala by the back of the neck, Copyright Patrick Flora
The final struggle begins, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
The final struggle begins, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Final moments before the Leopard pulled the Impala down, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
Final moments before the Leopard pulled the Impala down, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
The Leopard then dragged the Impala off into the bush, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
The Leopard then dragged the Impala off into the bush, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Spotted Hyaena Den at Mala Mala
Spotted Hyaena Den at Mala Mala
One of the Avoca Male Lions, Mala Mala, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
One of the Avoca Male Lions, Mala Mala, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Black Stork, Mala Mala
Black Stork, Mala Mala
Saddle Billed Stork, Mala Mala
Saddle Billed Stork, Mala Mala
A Hammerkop with a piece of meat from the Lion Kill, Mala Mala, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
A Hammerkop with a piece of meat from the Lion Kill, Mala Mala, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Tawny Eagle, Mala Mala
Tawny Eagle, Mala Mala
Mating pair of Three Banded Plovers, Mala Mala
Mating pair of Three Banded Plovers, Mala Mala
One of the Avoca male lions, Mala Mala
One of the Avoca male lions, Mala Mala
Herd of Elephants in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Herd of Elephants in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Male Nyala Antelope, Mala Mala
Male Nyala Antelope, Mala Mala
Young Klipspringer Antelope, Mala Mala
Young Klipspringer Antelope, Mala Mala
African Wilddogs, Mala Mala
African Wilddogs, Mala Mala
African Wilddog, Mala Mala
African Wilddog, Mala Mala
Male Greater Kudu, Mala Mala
Male Greater Kudu, Mala Mala
Cheetahs, Mala Mala
Cheetahs, Mala Mala
Male Cheetahs, Mala Mala
Male Cheetahs, Mala Mala
As we arrived the Senegal Bush Male Leopard showed his disapproval, Mala Mala, Copyright Patrick Flora
As we arrived the Senegal Bush Male Leopard showed his disapproval, Mala Mala, Copyright Patrick Flora
Senegal Bush Male Leopard yawning, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard yawning, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard below the tree in which he stashed his Impala kill, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard below the tree in which he stashed his Impala kill, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard with his Impala kill, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard with his Impala kill, Mala Mala
The Leopard proceeded to bite the tail off the Impala and then swallowed it whole !!, Mala Mala, Copyright Patrick Flora
The Leopard proceeded to bite the tail off the Impala and then swallowed it whole !!, Mala Mala, Copyright Patrick Flora
Cheetah, Mala Mala
Cheetah, Mala Mala
Male Cheetah, Mala Mala
Male Cheetah, Mala Mala
Picadilli female Leopard, Mala Mala
Picadilli female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
African Hawk Eagle being mobbed by a Lilac Breasted Roller
African Hawk Eagle being mobbed by a Lilac Breasted Roller
Side Striped Jackal, Mala Mala
Side Striped Jackal, Mala Mala
Herd of Zebra, Mala Mala
Herd of Zebra, Mala Mala
African Buffalo herd resting, Mala Mala
African Buffalo herd resting, Mala Mala
Female Buffalo with unusual horns, Mala Mala
Female Buffalo with unusual horns, Mala Mala
African Buffalo herd, Mala Mala
African Buffalo herd, Mala Mala
Greater Kudu bull, Mala Mala
Greater Kudu bull, Mala Mala
One of the Marthly Male Lions next to the Sand River, Mala Mala
One of the Marthly Male Lions next to the Sand River, Mala Mala
The three Marthly Male Lions, Mala Mala
The three Marthly Male Lions, Mala Mala
White Headed Vulture, Mala Mala
White Headed Vulture, Mala Mala
Herd of thirsty Impala drinking from the Sand River, Mala Mala, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Herd of thirsty Impala drinking from the Sand River, Mala Mala, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
White Headed Vulture, Mala Mala
White Headed Vulture, Mala Mala
One of the Marthly Male Lions, Mala Mala
One of the Marthly Male Lions, Mala Mala
Giraffe feeding on an early flush of Knob Thorn Tree Flowers, Mala Mala
Giraffe feeding on an early flush of Knob Thorn Tree Flowers, Mala Mala
Common Duiker, Mala Mala
Common Duiker, Mala Mala
The Tree House Male Leopard yawning, Mala Mala
The Tree House Male Leopard yawning, Mala Mala
Tree House male Leopard, Mala Mala
Tree House male Leopard, Mala Mala
Young male Common Waterbuck, Mala Mala
Young male Common Waterbuck, Mala Mala
Vervet Monkey in the tree tops, Mala Mala
Vervet Monkey in the tree tops, Mala Mala
Red Billed Ox Pecker on a Giraffe, Mala Mala
Red Billed Ox Pecker on a Giraffe, Mala Mala
Young Giraffe, Mala Mala
Young Giraffe, Mala Mala
the Senegal Bush male Leopard on patrol, Mala Mala
the Senegal Bush male Leopard on patrol, Mala Mala
Young Leopard cub on an Impala kill, Mala Mala
Young Leopard cub on an Impala kill, Mala Mala
Male Impala in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Male Impala in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Nile Monitor Lizard, Mala Mala
Nile Monitor Lizard, Mala Mala
the Senegal Bush male Leopard on patrol, Mala Mala
the Senegal Bush male Leopard on patrol, Mala Mala

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3 Comments

  • So many of these photos are amazing, I don’t know where to start.  I love the ones in motion, and the wonderful light on Young male Common Waterbuck, Mala Mala, and the set of the Island female Leopard jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala, the wilddog heading off into the sunset, the misty morning. Bateleur Eagle on the remains of an Impala, Kruger National Park, and many others.  Looking forward to our trip.

    Witta Priester - July 30th, 2017 at 1:57am

  • OMG!  Thank you for sharing these beautiful images!  I can hardly wait to be there myself!

    Carol Susan Sheppard - July 31st, 2017 at 8:50pm

  • Hi Stu—It was a great pleasure to have travelled with you and Patrick—what a trip and so many new experiences—not least the leopard kill at the water hole. Thanks for including some of my attempts in your trip report.

    Andy Miller - August 04th, 2017 at 4:09pm

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Testimonials This was my first trip to Africa after a lot of research. Although I spent over 30 days in Africa, my Botswana component was among the most productive and is my favorite country visited. I must say Stu and Justyna's planning and direction for our entire trip is unparalleled and can't thank them enough. Our guides were incredible and the crew that helped us were indispensable. The food during our trip was the best for all of the places visited including South Africa. I still don't know how Pula managed to make his wonderful cuisine with so little resources! Our camp crew, Philemon and Ghom were delightful and truly made me feel cared for and welcome. I have learned much from Stu and only wish I could have had more time learning from him in the field. Stu made our trip fun by pairing us with Mark, a like minded gentleman who was a joy to photograph with and talented. The entire experience was amazing with many high quality photo opportunities and think I have captured some magical moments and truly feel enriched by the experience. Thank you so much Stu, Justyna and all involved and I will try to one day do another marvelous adventure with Wild4photogfraphicsafaris.

Georges McNeil, USA

Testimonials can't begin to tell you how much Keith and I enjoyed being with you in Botswana. Your trip was as productive for me, the birdwatcher spouse, as it was for Keith, who is thrilled with his images. I saw more birds in Botswana than I ever imagined I'd see (152 species!), and I got such good looks at them, from the big Goliath Heron, Wattled Crane, and Saddle-billed Storks to the little Pearl-spotted Owlet, White-fronted Bee-eaters, and Malachite Kingfisher. Our Letaka guides, Shadreck and Nkosi, were knowledgeable and helpful - and just plain nice guys, and Shuur took us on four amazing boat rides on the Chobe River. Every aspect of the trip went smoothly. It's obvious how much behind-the-scenes work you and Justyna put into the planning. I would recommend you to anyone, and for the safari of a lifetime, I'd recommend the Best of Botswana with Stu Porter.

Sharon Kennedy, USA