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 Post subject: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again Aug 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:23 am 
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Hi everyone,

Although an avid reader of trip reports, camp sightings etc. I very rarely get down to posting some of my own Kruger experiences. I, therefore, decided that it would be nice to part with some great sightings from my recent trip to two of Kruger's most wonderful camps.

From the 12th to the 26th of August I joined my folks, brothers and family friends on their annual dry season trip to the Park. Over the past few years, my study commitments have limited the number of family holidays I am able to attend and as a result I was overjoyed to be a part of this trip.

I have decided to stick to the highlights of the trip so as not to bombard you with minor occurrences... :)

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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:12 am 
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The first week was spent at Talamati Bushveld Camp. A quiet camp not well known for producing great sightings of the big cats. Occasionally the Orpen pack of wild dogs move down towards the camp yet by and large the major attraction would by its tranquility and frequent sable sightings.

Being the dry season the best thing to do would be to follow water and as a result our routes were planned accordingly.

I begin on the morning of the 13th. As is typical of this area we drove through a dense mist which gradually dissipated with the rising son.

Some 6km from the camp we came across our first sighting of the morning, a massive male leopard!

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We spent a good hour with this beautiful cat as he quenched his thirst at the Fairfield waterhole. He then continued in our direction smelling and marking every bush and twig along a well utilized game path before crossing over the road and doing what leopards do best, disappear.

Image

To be continued...

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Skukuza Savanna Science Network Meeting 2010 & 2011
FGASA Fieldguide


Last edited by MLAMBANE on Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:45 am 
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After the leopard we proceeded to the Ximangwaneni dam where three 'tanks' lay taking in the morning light...

Image

On the opposite side of the dam a mating pair were doing the same, however, a bit too far for decent photography.

So that was our first morning and now for the afternoon :P

We decided to head to Ximangwaneni but had no luck. On our way back to the camp, however, we caught up with this lone lioness and her cub heading towards the Mondzweni waterhole...

Image

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What a way to end the day :D

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Skukuza Savanna Science Network Meeting 2010 & 2011
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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:48 am 
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Now for the morning of the 14th. Again we were up at the crack of dawn ready to leave the gate at 6:00 am :mrgreen:

At Fairfield waterhole we stumbled across the Talamati pride of lions :dance:

The pride consists of an old adult lioness, two adult lionesses and 4 subadults (3 females and a male). We had previously encountered this pride at the Ngwenyeni waterhole near Hamilton's Tented Camp in December last year, so it was good to see that the pride is still doing well! :)

We were fortunate enough to have the lions playing in the road for quite a while before they decided to move off...

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The pride in the road

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The elder of the three lionesses

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One of the subadult lionesses

The time with the lions had made the morning!!! Yet the day had barely begun :shock:

We headed towards Ximangwaneni where the mating pair were again doing their thing 8)
Unfortunately no pics as they were in thick bush :wall:

Then on to the Sweni/s126 road where we found a little honeybadger that disappeared off into the bush. Always nice to see them though!

Just outside Satara another mating pair of lions but due to the massive traffic Jam we decided to just drive through :evil:

Now barely out of the Satara - with no more than two cars watching - we were able to enjoy this young male...

Image

After a quick picnic breakfast, with much talk about the morning's events, we decided to make our way back to Talamati down the s36. We hadn't got very far until we reached a massive traffic jam at Nsemani :evil:...

A lioness and her three cubs :) A good sighting, however, traffic jams are too 'lion parkish' for me and so we didn't stay long.

Image

Then down to the s36 and again the mating couple were in the thick bush at Ximangwaneni dam.

After the frenzy of lion sightings that morning you could most probably guess what we saw that afternoon... :wink:

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Skukuza Savanna Science Network Meeting 2010 & 2011
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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:19 am 
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That afternoon we had travelled no more than 5 km before bumping into the Talamati pride for the second time that day! :dance:

Image

Image

We watched them for a good 2 hours while they set up hunt and chased two warthogs right in front of our car :D

The gate was about to close so we had to head back - what a thrilling day it was :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:55 am 
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After what was an amazing day for lions we eventually got back to camp already anticipating what tomorrow might hold :P

That night the weather turned, the wind howled and the temperature plummeted :| :| When it's windy game viewing is nothing short of terrible :wall: Nevertheless, on the morning of the 15th we headed out at gate opening toward the s36 then the s126 and up to Satara...

Guess what we saw...

Nothing!!! :wall: :wall: :wall:

Not to worry though since just being in the Kruger is far better than being or doing anything else :dance: :dance:

We followed the same route back to Talamati after a good picnic breakfast which is by far the better option if the other is to eat at the Satara restaurant :wink: :wink:

Now 11km from Talamati we decided to have a look at the Mondzweni Waterhole and in the distance we could count 9 of these magnificent creatures... :dance: :dance:

Image

An awesome way to end off a quiet morning drive!!

That afternoon the weather was still very miserable and we decided to do a short trip to Mondzweni - maybe to catch a closer view of the sable. On arrival at the waterhole there was nothing so we headed slowly back to camp. At the Hoyo Hoyo and Imbali junction we were shocked to again find the Talamati pride walking up the road in what was now cold and rainy weather :D :D

What luck!!

Image
The lioness with one blind eye - most probably the same one that Flutterby had mentioned earlier

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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:37 am 
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Vlakvarkvrou wrote:
Good morning M,
Beautifull portait of the 3 lion cubs :D :dance:

Hi Vlakvarkvrou, I'm glad that you like them :)

steamtrainfan wrote:
Hi MLAMBANE. I have managed to catch up on your report a bit late but that is better than never. The leopard is an amazing guy. Is it my imagination or does he look well fed as well? Just love your pics. We are planning our trip for July 2012 and staying at Satara for 3 nights so we will for sure make the Talamati loop part of our trip. Thanks for sharing.

Hi Steamtrainfan, happy to have you with us! The Talamati loop isn't a bad option for your next trip!! The leopard was magnificent, in fact magnificent is an understatement!!! He drank at the artificial Fairfield waterhole and then practically walked straight over our car - he was so close that you couldn't see him over the bonnet of the car as he crossed the road :shock:

You are right he was very well fed and we suspect that he left his kill to come for a drink...

Image

Image
The drool is priceless :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

hilda wrote:
Mlambane, I also just caught up with your TR! Beautiful pictures, you were indeed very lucky with your sightings right from the start! :thumbs_up: Looking forward to more pictures and sightings :clap: .

Hi Hilda, thank you and I won't disappoint :wink: :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:28 am 
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Thank you all again for the comments :mrgreen: The sable sighting was great, however, they were a bit too far for any decent photography :|

On the morning of the 16th it was decided that a new route was in order :D Unfortunately it was another cold and rainy morning which obviously didn't bode well for game viewing... Nevertheless we made our way towards Nhlanguleni picnic spot, Lugmag dam and finally onto the Vutomi/s33 road where sheltered from the rain in a sausage tree stood this one-eyed bandit :wink: :wink: We sat with him for about half an hour before he climbed down and moved off into the bush...

Image

A left turn onto the tar, towards Satara, and then onto the H6, s41 and s100...

On the s41 a gentleman stopped us and said that we should 'keep them peeled' as there were 5 lionesses lying flat in the grass a few kms ahead with no cars watching them... and so a few kms later we spotted them all wet and bedraggled with no other cars in sight :pray: :pray: :pray: We waited patiently and some 20 minutes later they all got up and walked deeper into the bush :D :D

Image

Image

It was an extremely cold morning and a warm bed was definitely calling and so we headed back to camp. The bed, however, had to wait. Not more than 2kms from the camp this young male lay, feeling very sorry for himself, a few metres from the road. We assume that he had had an encounter with the pride males as the wound on his head would suggest... The picture, however, does not do the scene justice as he was in fact a mere bag of bones probably as a result of his poor solitary hunting success :cry: :cry: It is at times like these that one needs to remember the hardships that male lions go through once ostracized from the pride at 3-4 years of age - there is no wonder that pride males who have 'made it', strut their stuff with the arrogance and 'pride' that they do :wink: :wink:

Image

Eventually we could all take a well deserved rest since getting up at 5:00 every morning, on holiday, does start to take its toll :P :P

The afternoon drive was a short one :wink:

At Mondzweni waterhole we got them again but this time much closer!!!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :dance: :dance:

Image

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One of the two youngsters

...and I now think we can call it a day :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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Skukuza Savanna Science Network Meeting 2010 & 2011
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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:22 pm 
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On the morning of the 17th the plan was to hit the s36, s39 up to Timbavati and then cut across to the tar towards Satara.

It was a very quiet morning and the weather was again not in our favour :(

After another picnic breakfast at Satara the wind began to die down and so we decided to go back via the s125 in the hope of spotting one of the many leopards along this road...

3/4 of the way along we got this mother with her two young cubs :dance: :dance: :dance: She didn't stay long but a great sighting nonetheless :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Image
The mother and the little male

Image
The little girl

It was then back to camp until the afternoon drive was due :D

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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:06 am 
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buffalo_soldier wrote:
Great leopard shot.......Beautiful little girl!!!!!!! :clap: :thumbs_up: :clap: :thumbs_up:

Good to know about this leopard road!!! I will proof my luck in october with that road! :mrgreen:

Thanks and good luck for July!!

steamtrainfan wrote:
Thanks very much for the brilliant photos and for the tip of the S125. We will make this road amust when we visit Satara in July 2012.

It is a pleasure, the s125 is most definitely a must do road from Satara!

Kamadejo wrote:
Wonderful pics of the leopards. :clap: :clap: :clap: Especially the little girl is adorable. :thumbs_up: :popcorn:

Thank you!

Herman wrote:
Hi Mlambane - I've only stayed in Talamati once and also had great sightings , but not as many as you people !! Thanks - great photographs ! I think we met in Orpen a few years ago - your dad drove a Discovery and you had a tiny string of yellow wool hanging from your mirror ??

Hi Herman!! Thanks for your kind words. Yes I do remember!!! Wow that was quite some time ago and he still drives the white discovery! I hope you are keeping well and visiting the Park as often as possible!!

The afternoon of the 17th was quiet but we did manage to get a great sighting - in broad daylight - of this little civet at the Ngwenyeni waterhole :dance:

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:23 am 
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The following morning, the 18th, we wanted to give the s125 another go...

About half way along this road we caught sight of a leopard just next to the road. In excitement myself and my brother shouted LEOPARD and scared her off :redface: :( :redface: Really not cool!!!! I must say though, it is difficult to remain subdued when you see one of these beautiful cats - regardless of how many times you have seen them.

We then reached the tar and headed towards Satara until the Sweni/s126 road led us back to camp. About 5kms down the road we encountered a massive traffic jam for two cheetahs some 100m into the bush. Naturally we drove straight through the commotion wondering why people would want to view a flick of an ear or tail under those circumstances :? :?

At Mondzweni we saw them again... now for the third time :dance:

Image

As we drove back into camp we got a short view of 13 more sable that had come to drink at the waterhole - no pics unfortunately as they had already moved off.

The afternoon drive wasn't fruitful and so that evening I decided to do some night photography of this little barred owlet...

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:07 pm 
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Thank you to all those who have commented, your remarks are much appreciated :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

After photographing the owl my brothers and I headed for the hide where we were treated to the sounds of hyena and side striped jackal calling near to the camp fence. Unfortunately this was our last night at Talamati and so spent much of the evening packing for the day ahead.

19th - Up at first light we headed out of Talamati on our way to another beautiful part of the Park...
Just before the Imbali junction we met up with the lone lioness and her cub perched on a termite mound amidst a thick layer of mist - a truly magical experience :D :D

Image

We took the s36 past lugmag dam where we found a honey badger walking in the road. The rest of the trip was quiet until we reached "Eloff", "The Highway" or whatever you would prefer to call it :evil: :evil: :evil: 2km before Lower Sabie coming from Skukuza a massive traffic jam :evil: :evil: People out of their cars, shouting, screaming, hooting, you name it - it was happening!!! The poor leopard - in a tree right next to the road - didn't seem to mind the piggish behaviour, she's probably used to it? :wink: :wink: As soon as we could get through we did, again too zoo-like for me.

Finally peace and serenity - Biyamiti!!!

At the camp turn-off, off the s25, we see construction tape and the beginning of a massive trench stretching all the way back to the camp :( :( Not a good start, however, the trench was useful in some instances... :wink: :wink: :wink:

The afternoon was spent at camp enjoying the beauty of nature :) :)

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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:23 am 
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Elsa wrote:
Some very special sightings in the last 2 episodes, Leopard with cubs, Civet, Honey Badger and Sable again!
Wow impressive and a great pic of the owl and the Lion in the mist. :clap:

Thank you Elsa :D

Kamadejo wrote:
Lovely pic of the cub in mist :clap: :clap: :clap: We stayed at Biyamiti as well and saw the trench :? I heard that some animals used it for their advantage :( :popcorn:

Thank you Kamadejo, although aesthetically displeasing the trench did have its advantages :shock:

At 04:30am on the 20th I woke to the rasping calls of a leopard in the distance. By 05:00am he called from much closer and so we decided to take the spot light and walk along the fence. We hadn't gone very far and we picked him up walking alongside the river bed without a care in the world. He was patrolling and marking and eventually disappeared into the darkness :dance: :dance:

The route for today was the 18km stretch, the s26 and then the s114 up to Skukuza. The 18km stretch has in the past been very productive for us in fact in 2009 my parents saw and photographed no less than 8 different leopards along this road. On this particular morning, however, we had no such luck.

About 1km south of Renosterkoppies my brother managed to spot a leopard walking in the bush... She looked as if she wanted to cross and eventually our patience paid off :dance: :dance:

Image

Image

We spent a good 30 minutes with her before she decided to disappear :D

The trip to skukuza offered all the usual suspects and then it was time to head back. 2km along the 18km stretch I picked up two male lions asleep about 10 metres from the road...

Image

That was the end for the 20th - On the 21st I saw a sighting that in 22 years (my whole life) I have never been privileged enough to see... :shock: :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:25 pm 
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Thank you Flutterby, steamtrainfan and Cody - We were very fortunate to get the cub posing in the mist :D

The lions roared all night from the 4km stretch so we decided to do a route from there... Approximately 2km from camp we had a young male leopard walking in the road trying to find a way to cross the trench. It was still very dark and so no pictures were taken. The leopard soon realized that there was no easy way over and leapt over the trench with great ease :D :D He then walked away parallel to the road and then deeper into the bush.

We went a little further and had to turn back as the elephants had pushed a tree across the road. We decided to follow the same route as the previous morning and were fortunate in doing so.

At Renosterkoppies two cars were stopped watching this beautiful lioness grooming herself next to the road. She was obviously lactating as her nipples were very swollen. Apparently people had seen her cubs earlier before she had to hide them as 5 rogue males passed through the area :shock: :shock:

I sincerely hope that her cubs were ok and, in what I can only assume was a call to the pride males, she roared repeatedly advertising her displeasure...

Image

The 5 intruders in question were heading along the s112 towards Kwaggaspan and so we decided to go and look for them. We didn't find them but rather a massive male leopard on the opposite side of the road to the waterhole - a little bit too far for pictures...

After a decent Skukuza breakfast we headed back to camp and spotted two black rhinos whose location will remain a secret for obvious reasons...

Image

We decided to go on a night drive as it was the families' last night before they left and I joined our family friends. It was on this drive that it all happened...

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 Post subject: Re: Mlambane - Kruger Delivers Yet Again
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:59 pm 
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Ok ok here we go :mrgreen:

I arranged a special night drive, with Elliot the Biyamiti guide, that would depart at 18:00 and then return at 21:00...

We had barely left camp and we bumped into the Biyamiti pride on the hunt!!! 4 females, 3 males and 7 cubs :dance: :dance: They went after an impala but sadly missed and moved out of sight into the riverbed leaving only the cubs trailing behind...

Image

At the 4km junction we turned left onto the s25 heading for Crocodile Bridge...

We saw at least 6 civet on this stretch as well as a beautiful serval...

Image

After the serval, the spotlight caught some eyes too far to identify but luckily I had brought a stronger spotlight along in case of such an event... I turned it on quickly and illuminated what was to be my first ever AARDVARK in my life!!! Only the third that Elliot has ever seen in 7 years of guiding night and morning drives day after day!!! Elated would be an understatement!!! Too far for a picture but close enough for a meaningful view - WOW that had made my drive and my entire trip!!! Although not a rare animal their strictly nocturnal behaviour and shy nature makes spotting them near to impossible!!

We then reached the Croc Bridge tar and turned left and again we hadn't got far when I caught this lazy cat taking an evening nap...

Image

While watching her the thundering call of a very close and territorial lion shattered the silence and some 200m on we found him lying just off the road...

Image

Not bad for a night drive hey!!! :wink: :wink:

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Skukuza Savanna Science Network Meeting 2010 & 2011
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