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 Post subject: Peterpipers KTP Impressions. November 2007
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2007 11:13 am 
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With so many beautiful trip reports being written for this forum, and the added fact that both KDU and JUMBO were in the park at the same time as me, (and are doing wonderful trip reports) I have decided to just give a few impressions of a wonderful week spent in the park during November.

As always this is a park that is full of contrasts – the highs are really high and the lows can be fairly miserable, but as usual I left the park after 7 nights feeling that my thirst for nature, photography, inspiration and some solitude had been amply quenched, and once again I could look forward to time spent in my studio.

To start off with, it has to be said, that the park is very, very dry.

So dry in fact that there was a serious shortage of sightings at times and many hours were spent driving without seeing very much at all. The Whistling Rats (and Goshawks etc… that feed on them,) were conspicuous by their absence as were the Red Headed finches and Queleas that crowd the water holes in sweeping waves in the afternoon light. Few Falcons guarded these last outposts, preferring to seek out their prey in greener pastures further north, but then on the positive side, there were plenty of Lions and surprisingly good Leopard sightings, so plenty to keep my interest. And in these conditions, the Kgalagadi landscape has a charm of it’s own, the red dunes and dusty plains, windswept and barren, are perhaps more ‘true Kgalagadi’ than some of the summer vistas I have seen in recent years. Some dramatic sandstorms and even a bit of rain kept things interesting at times, adding to the challenge of good photography.

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Day one probably had enough in sightings, all in the first 3 hours, to fill this whole report, so I will have to split it into 2 parts.

Settings out as the gates opened, I came across this lone mother drinking only a few meters from the camp gate. I don’t often see Brown Hyenas but the trip showed me 2 great sightings. (The other near Nossob)

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Shortly after leaving her, and heading towards Mata Mata, I came across a few cars watching Lions very far away across the river bed, but I decided to stay and get the cameras set up. To my amazement, the lions decided to walk towards us and after walking up to, and looking straight into one of the vehicles, they crossed between the cars and posed on the dunes for a few pics. Seems luck was on my side this morning. Little did I know.

Here the mother is keeping an eye to see if junior is coming as she told him to.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 10:59 am 
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@MM You are quite right, I believe she has pups somewhere, always a good sign. I would have actually missed this sighting, as I drove straight past her at first as she was walking towards the water hole, but I returned briefly to the camp area to make a quick phone call to my daughter and in fact, only noticed her on my way back. Amazing how many creatures we miss. If I think of the countless leopards I must have driven past……


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I left the lions as they looked set to wander off over the dunes, feeling well pleased with a glorious start to the day, but within minutes, came across a car parked in the road, and once stopped there, I realized there was a leopard in the tree, fairly close, but well covered by the thick foliage of a dense Camelthorn tree. The guys in the other car then indicated that there were indeed 2 leopards in the tree with a kill and before I could even make out clearly the second leopard, the entire kill suddenly came crashing out of the tree, sending mother and cub scrambling down to the ground to collect it once more.

And mom was clearly not amused!!!
She hissed and growled, showed her teeth and whipped her tail around, clearly not impressed with juniors’ total lack of table manners and etiquette ( not to mention pure clumsiness and carelessness for dropping their dinner on the floor!) and she soon punished him with a lightening fast bite to the neck, putting him firmly in his place. Later she relaxed and fed for awhile, while junior sulked off to the far side of the river bed.



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Two leopards.
A kill.
Fairly close to the road.
And only 3 cars in attendance.

7. 45 am and I couldn’t help spare a thought for friends back home who right now were battling through rush hour traffic as I set about making a fresh cup of tea while keeping an eye on things through the camera..
And the mother still had to get the kill back into the tree.
(to be continued.....)

Man, I love this place!!!

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 11:03 am 
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Some magic shots of "our leopards" Peter

Interesting that they obviously fed on that kill for quite some time

Thanks for the photographs and update


Steve


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Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 11:17 am 
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Mashona wrote:
Some magic shots of "our leopards" Peter

Interesting that they obviously fed on that kill for quite some time

Thanks for the photographs and update


Steve


Some interesting points on this one.
A few days earlier she had killed a Springbuck and placed it in a tree right next to the road about a hundred meters from where I saw her. For some reason she abandond this kill and decided to kill again, this time using a tree with more cover. ( the first kill remained in the tree uneaten)
I saw her a few days later and they had continued to feed on the second kill until almost every part had been eaten.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 11:31 am 
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The other strange thing I noticed about this sighting, the Springbok had just been killed and yet the herd of about 50 stayed in the area, they could have only been 100 metres away
Asking to be eaten

Take away food!!!!


Steve


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 10:32 am 
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Location: Heart - Grootkolk, Soul - KTP, Body - far too far south most of the time!
Absolutely stunning pics! :clap: :clap: Thanx Peter!

It looks like the TR leopard. Where did you see her Peter? (Eagle Eyes and I are trying to follow her thru the sightings on this forum. We have seen her on 2 of our trips.)

I now have had my daily fix for my KTP addiction! :wink: Thank you! :D


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Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 3:59 pm 
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@wanderw This is the TR Leopard, I saw her on this trip 20km from TR along the Mata Mata road. She seems to be fairly used to cars and so she is seen quite often.

Thank you everyone else for your good comments.

I'll get onto the next part as soon as I can.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 1:56 pm 
peterpiper wrote:
This is the TR Leopard, I saw her on this trip 20km from TR along the Mata Mata road.


Well at least we shared one sighting….the 20 km sign board :roll: ….AND I can boast that we saw it more times than you :dance: ….as we drove up and down, up and down, that piece of road looking for this stupid cat and her brat!!!! :evil:

Peter, you Kgalagadi reports has always been a highlight on this forum for me. Your photos are incredible and the way you tell your story, makes me long to go back.
BTW, when we saw those awesome storms during our trip, I said to my SO, “We are having a Peterpiper trip”….based on your previous trip report. :lol:

Thanks for sharing the shots of the leopards….from the first time I heard of these photos I desperately wanted to see them….makes up for us not getting to see this couple (ok, just a bit :twisted:)


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Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 10:02 am 
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Thanks everyone for your great comments and apologies for the delay in continuing my story.

@Jumbo - sorry you guys missed her, everyone else saw her :twisted: Next time perhaps :) And maybe next time we will finally meet up. Then I can show you where the other leopards are!!!

After feeding alone on the ground for about 15 minutes, the Leopard mother hoisted the remains of their meal into the tree. Not an easy task – in fact at one point she actually lost her footing and fell out of the tree with the carcass almost landing on top of her, and had to start off all over again. If only junior hadn't been so clumsy!!! Finally, feeling pleased that everything was once again safely put away, she settled down in full view for a much deserved rest, but not before calling repeatedly for junior.

He was nowhere to be seen.

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Later that morning, I came across a Lappet- Faced Vulture drinking and managed a few shots as it once more took to the skies.

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An unbelievable start to my first day in KTP, but in typical KTP tradition (for me anyway ) things were not going to go all my own way, and before my first day was over, I was to find myself stranded north of Nossob with a car that refused to start and no one around. My battery (less than a year old) had decided to give up on me, forcing me to leave the park the following day to go in search of help.

Having said all of that, tomorrow was to be another good day.

Watch this space

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Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 10:34 am 
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Thank you Peterpiper :clap: :clap:

Stranded in the KTP :shock: ... if I could chose where to be stranded, KTP would be No1 on the list (provided it is on a road with passing traffic now and then to check on me 8) )

Waiting for more...sooon please :D

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:54 am 
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Dreamer wrote:
Thank you Peterpiper :clap: :clap:

Stranded in the KTP :shock: ... if I could chose where to be stranded, KTP would be No1 on the list (provided it is on a road with passing traffic now and then to check on me 8) )


On my very first trip to KTP (many years ago), I got stuck in my kombi in thick mud almost exactly half way between Nossob and TR and it was at 1pm -midday. I tried to get out of this mess for the next 5 hours and believe it or not, not a single car came past, so I eventually went to sleep in my vehicle only to be awoken at 2am by staff from TR who had come to my rescue. The permit system does work :)
After spending 13 hours there, I got to know the exact spot really well and everytime I pass it now, I always stop there and turn off the engine for awhile, just to remember being stranded there. I had a spotlight with me, but apart from a lone Spotted eagle Owl in a nearby tree, nothing else decided to visit me that night. :(

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:24 am 
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@peterpiper
I love your lion pics and the leopard pics are amazing! What a chance to be able to see this scenario with junior dropping the kill and mom being angry with him - and you got in on photo as well! Well done! :clap:
Wonderful pics! Hope the stranded-car-situation sorted itself out...
Looking forward to the next installment!
Safarigirl


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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:46 am 
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One of the best things about traveling around KTP on your own is that you always meet some wonderful people who share a common passion for nature, wildlife, photography and the KTP in general. The visitors to this park are generally fairly obsessed with this place, and it was such a couple, who came to my rescue. (Thanks Neil and Lynn) They towed me long enough to start the vehicle and I made it back to Nossob to be told that my only option really, was a new battery. Something I could easily pick up a mere 260km away. A rolling start in the morning, and I headed off knowing that I cannot turn off the engine and therefore cannot do serious photography ( the vibrations from the engine would mean unsharp images) Travelling at just below the speed limit, I hoped I wouldn’t see anything TOO amazing.

Not much for most of the journey except these young Ostriches blocking the road eating stones.

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And then…… Leopard! Damn!!! Now what?

This was a bit like watching your mother in law drive over a cliff in your brand new car. :)
I didn’t know how to feel. Hardly ever do you see these beautiful creatures, and now I couldn’t turn off the engine to be sure the photo would be completely sharp. I piled blankets and pillows onto the window ledge to give my long lens some support and shot off loads of pics, eventually getting something reasonably decent.

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Later, after replacing batteries, I returned to the park and decided to head off to Mata Mata for a couple of nights. That afternoon I met up with KDU and Francolin as we watched Giraffes drinking at Dalkeith.

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