Shinde is known for its fantastic game viewing and it certainly lived up to it's reputation on this particular day. It was time for the afternoon game drive, there was a breeze blowing and the weather had clouded over making for a lovely cool afternoon. We headed out towards the Footsteps area and got to a forest of hard-wood trees, in the shade of a giant sausage tree we saw lots of little ears pop up from the long grass.
It was one of our resident packs of Wild Dog consisting of six pups and three adults. The pups were active, playing chase and yapping at one another however the adults were only interested in an afternoon siesta.
We left the pack to rest and let the heat of the day pass and we moved on to see what else we could find. The rains have just began which means there are a lot of offspring around. Tsessebe, an antelope we find in the area, are starting to drop their calves. These antelope breed once a year and are usually found in open savannah grassland areas like the environment on parts of the Shinde concession.
Dusk was setting in and it was time to go and check on the Wild Dog to see if they had started to awaken. We headed towards the same area where we saw them earlier and only saw the pups, this meant that the adults were on the hunt, hopefully nearby. We headed towards the open area where they had been seen by my colleague and as soon as we got there we saw the three adult wild dog chasing impala. It happened within seconds, the adults used a nearby termite mound to ambush the impala. We could see that they were in a hurry to engorge themselves as fast as possible to 1. avoid other predators from stealing their kill and 2. To get back to the pups for the regurgitation process.
Once the dogs had finished eating they set off towards their pups who were eagerly awaiting their arrival on the other side of the channel. The water is fairly deep and because it was getting dark, the dogs were a bit apprehensive about crossing. At this point I decided that it was best to leave them and get back to camp. It was an action packed afternoon and there was a lot of chatter coming from behind me about the sighting. It wasn't over yet though, Relax another colleague of mine had radioed in about a leopard sighting. It was getting late so we had to get back to camp but I was going to make it my mission to find the leopard in the morning.
We left early the next morning and headed straight towards the area where the leopard had been seen the night before. We arrived at the area, the grass was as high as the vehicle but finally we spotted her and her one year old cub lying in the grass feeding on a Reed Buck. It looked like they were both quite full so they moved off their kill quite soon after our arrival.
The adult climbed up a termite mound to keep a watchful eye on her kill and she certainly was very protective over it as she gave us a snarl as if to warn us from getting to close.
Her cub, in the meantime, was circling a huge Jackalberry tree a few metres away, scanning to find the best way up. She jumped into the tree and went straight to the top in a series of three or four leaps and bounds.Once she reached the top she realised that it was maybe too high and there were no comfortable branches there so she moved back down and settled on the left fork of the tree.
Both the adult leopard and her cub looked like they were going to settle there for the rest of the day. We left the sighting and went for morning tea at hippo pools, it was a spectacular twenty four hours of game viewing at Shinde.
Story by Bonolo (professional guide at Shinde)