Rangers Diary 17th – 23rd May

Lots of lion, leopard and cheetah tracks all over the place again this week and early one morning we were fortunate enough to have two lions walking through the lodge grounds.

Then that night when we had just closed-up for the night we saw two lionesses and their 3 cubs wondering into camp. They moved to our parking area, where they lay down.

A leopard has been calling from across the river for a few days now, obviously looking for a mate.

An elephant has moved into the lodge, being here for the last 4 days, just quietly feeding, well not always that quiet, breaking branches. We also came across a breeding herd of elephants on an afternoon game drive.

Rangers Diary 10th – 16th May

Going on a boat cruise, on the Kafue River, in the evenings is really lovely, the bird life is magnificent and we see a lot of animals coming to drink. Crocodiles and hippos can also be seen.

We are seeing lots of cat’s tracks close to lodge so game viewing is going to be excellent soon when the bush thins out.

Elephant are seen regularly and the diversity of game seen whilst on drives has been very good. This has included rarer sightings such as the side-striped jackal and the large-spotted genet.

We were blessed by lions in stereo one morning when a lion started roaring on our side of the river was answered by lions on the other side. It is a lovely sound. Later we found a carcass at the airstrip covered by this time, with vultures. The lions on our side of the river must have had a good feast.

                                                                         

Rangers Diary 4th – 9th May

It is always lovely to see all the different animals that get attracted to the lodge grounds to feed or as in the case of our resident lions to see if there is anything to catch, to rest up or just pass through.

This week apart from the daily visits of Impala, Puku, warthogs, monkeys and baboons, we also had elephants, which were around reception, they then moved past the chalets where they demolished a tree.

Elephants Kafue National ParkWe had a lovely sighting of a breeding herd of elephants on a boat cruise one evening; the whole herd was busy drinking from the Kafue River.

Max, the hippo that often visits the lodge at night to graze on our lush short grass has also been around.

Lions have been roaring from across the river, but we haven’t been lucky enough to see them this week yet. Our resident lions have also been quiet, however we did find a dead waterbuck on the road near the entrance to the lodge. The vultures were already in the trees surrounding the carcass. So obviously they are around.

The birding has been good and some of the birds we have seen are Wattle Crane, African Fish Eagle, African Darter, African Fin Foot, Pied Kingfisher, Open Bill Stork, White-fronted Bee eater, Pied Wagtail.

Cheetah tracks were also seen, which were followed without success. in the main road going to the gravel pit then turned going into our camp, we followed the track to the small bridge where we lost the direction.

Rangers Diary 26th April – 03th May 2014

Autumn is in the air. Though most of the trees are still green and some still have plenty of fruit for the monkeys and birds others are losing their leaves. The grass is beginning to turn beige colour a sure sign winter is just around the corner.

With every day break the birds greet the morning with their songs and the Turacos are always around the camp as well as the Fish Eagles.

On Wednesday morning we found fresh tracks of lions at our storeroom, they had ventured into camp just before dawn and the camp noises must have disturbed them and they had recently wandered off.

We have seen a lot of elephants this week and a lot have been in camp. One afternoon we had a whole breeding herd next to our storeroom and close to the chalets. They stayed in our immediate surrounds for about 3 days.

Another nice sized herd was seen across the river, when they came down to drink.

Both leopards and lions have been heard calling from across the river most nights. One leopard called for about half an hour, to the disgust of the monkeys, which sent alarm calls throughout the bush.

One of our staff returning from checking the water tank walked into a leopard, just above the lodge.

The bush still dense, making game viewing difficult, but this will improve from now on as the bush begins to dry out.

 

Rangers Diary 20th – 26th April 2014

On a short walking safari we saw fresh tracks of lions with cubs, cheetahs and hyena, but unfortunately not the animals themselves. We walked to the natural hot spring where we found the breeding herd of elephants, that have been around the area for the last week, managing to get as close as 10 – 15 meters from them.

The game drives were unfortunately not great as we are still very limited to where we can drive and the bush is still very thick.

The fishing however was not bad and guests managed to catch about 60 fish (Bream and Pike on catch and release). Hippos, crocs and some of the antelopes on the river banks were seen on these fishing excursions.

The birding was also good; some of the birds we saw were: Green Backed Heron, Purple Crested Turaco, African Grey Hornbill, Hammerkop, Fish eagles, African Jacana, Saddle Bill Stork, African Darter, Pied Kingfisher, and Giant Kingfisher.

On the Tuesday after the weekend, Ginger, our resident lion, wandered through camp. Unfortunately some of our guests had already checked-out.

Well this is how things happened in the bush. You can never tell when the animals will be around. But for sure they are there.

Rangers Diary 13th – 19th April 2014

Elephant Kafue National ParkA large breeding herd of elephant that when we first saw them caused us to sit for some length while they crossed the road in front of us. They stayed in the area for a number of days and we were fortunate to see them often.They also came very close to the lodge on a few occasions.

The Easter weekend started on 18th April 2014 and we were most surprised that the animals were all of a sudden nowhere to be seen. The impalas, pukus, bush buck, warthogs, vervet monkeys and baboons were the only ones around.

Rangers Diary 6th – 12th April 2014

cheetahThe great excitement this week was spotting a cheetah that was hunting, but stopped as soon as it saw us, and quickly moved off. We did a few loops and found a cheetah feeding on an impala it had killed.

The following day going to collect staff I saw our resident lion and his lionesses with 3 cubs. We had seen the mating last year before we closed, so I was so excited to see the cubs.

It was a good drive as I also came across a large herd of sable antelope and roans.

Rangers Diary 30th March – 5th April 2014

Ginger, the lion who regularly visited the lodge, seemed more interested in seeing us as he followed his normal route through the lodge facilities, before disappearing.

The following day early in the morning hour we could hear him roaring to east of the camp coming closer and closer, soon he was in the camp following his normal route.

Lions on both sides of the river have been roaring almost every night and we have also been fortunate to hear leopard.

Rangers Diary 23rd – 29th March 2014

We arrived back to re-open for the year after the raining season to lush bush and the fields green with tall grass. The Plains are still soggy and the roads are still impassable making game drives very difficult as only some few short roads would be available. In places there are small springs where the water still bubbles up.

It was not long before some of the regulars made their presence known. The 2 male lions, we have named Copper and Coin, welcomed us back with their roars from across the river, we were delighted that they were still around.

Our second day back we spotted cheetah on the road to the pontoon. The female is heavily pregnant and surely due shortly.

That night we had three hippos in the camp and a hyena calling nearby.

A day on and the Cheetahs were spotted again on the airstrip and elephant came into the lodge grounds to feed as usual on our mango trees. They didn’t appear to pleased to see us back.

 

 

Rangers Diary 1 – 7 December 2013

Bufalo Kafue National ParkIt has been a long time since we had buffalo in game drive distance of the lodge. Last week I reported that we had seen tracks and this week we saw them. It was a herd of about 200 to 300 animals. It was absolutely wonderful to see them again and what a sight to see so many all together.

We had some incredible sightings this week; this included a herd of 14 sable antelope, a massive herd of Elands and incredibly a herd of 15 Roan Antelope. I am sure you appreciate how rare they are.

leopard Kafue National parkWe came across a fresh leopard kill, but no leopard and felt it had moved off when hearing the noise of the vehicle. We popped back every now and again and got glimpses of the leopard and on one occasion a great view. One of our guests set up a night camera and we are hoping to get pictures, which we can share with you.

Probably, even for me, a once in a lifetime sighting, we came across a female baboon carrying an albino baby – something that hardly ever occurs in nature.

We had another rain storm this week, that of 10mm. The bush is getting more and more dense with new growth and the grass is coming back quickly.

 

Rangers Diary November 2013

Kafue National ParkThe “Green Season” is upon on us and the Kafue National Park has transformed into a wonderland of bright green new leaves and flowers covering the trees and bushes. Bulbs that we had forgotten about have sprung back to life and are in full flower.

The rains are late this year as we have had only two good showers so far. Temperatures during the day are hot, but being next to the Kafue River we get a nice relieving cool breeze. Daily clouds gather promisingly, thunder rumbles, lightening flashes – and then nothing.

The Kafue River is still getting lower; this works in our favour as the deep pools in front of the deck attract hippos and crocodiles.

10-11-2013 001All our regular visitors to the lodge: the warthogs, vervet monkeys, impala and puku are still plentiful and almost every female boasts a youngster which is too precious to watch. We have also seen zebra close to the lodge on a number of occasions, which is great.

Buffalo tracks were seen in the park, not too far from us and as they haven’t been in our area for months it is wonderful to know they are around again.

Lions – well we are getting a bit blasé about them as they are almost part of the furniture here at the lodge. This whole week, everyday they were in or around the lodge. We also see them regularly on the other side of the river walking along the bank or stalking potential prey that is drinking.

Three elephants made the lodge their home for 6 days feeding happily in our surrounds, Oktober 30 002breaking lots of trees. One of our mango trees was stripped of all its leaves.

Breeding herds have also been seen and twice we saw them crossing the river. They also come to the river to drink and have a mud bath, which, from their actions and vocals, they really enjoy.

09-11-2013 007The most exciting news is that we have been seeing wild dogs again. These were close to the lodge as well. We have had a number of sightings of them this month whilst on game drives. We have also been very fortunate to have seen cheetah as well.

Two malachite kingfishers that had made a nest in the river bank next to the deck where seen this week with their two chicks who where learning to fly.

DSC_0741

Rangers Diary 26th October – 2nd November 2013

Oktober 30 006When you run a game lodge you would really like all your guests to see lots of animals and this week they were spoilt with excellent game viewing. The lions didn’t let us down either as they marched through the camp night after night.

Some guests had, Ginger, our big male lion, walking through camp while they were having dinner on our deck. On occasions they made sure we were aware of them by roaring loudly as they went.

Oktober 30 004Lions also passed the lodge on the other side of the Kafue River to us and one afternoon we heard a loud splash and saw a puku swimming away from a lioness. It was gambling that it would not be caught by a crocodile. The lioness just stood on the edge of the river watching it go.

The puku swam directly at our deck and just before it turned and got out right next to it, shook itself and ran off.

This Puku had been luckier than one, the previous afternoon. Guests were lucky enough to watch a crocodile catching a puku across the river from our swimming pool. The puku was quickly submerged and a crocodile on our side of the river sped over to the action and joined the feast.

The crocodiles in the waters just in front of the lodge seem to catch a lot more than we actually notice. One afternoon we saw a lot of fish movement in the river, on investigation we found them feeding of what was left of an impala carcass.

Game drives have also had their fair share of lion and leopard sightings and the general game viewing has been great as well.

We had a very special sight of a massive herd of Elephants crossing the river, which is an amazing scene. Elephants have been visiting a mud patch just upstream from the lodge and from the boat we sat watching them for hours as they play in the mud.

Oktober 30 002

 

 

Rangers Diary: 20th – 25th October 2013

Our first rains of the season have fallen, it was only 2mm but it did settle the dust and it is a start.

From our deck we spotted 2 large lionesses walking down the river bank, we quickly got the guests on a game drive and we managed to catch up with them and we spent about two hours with them as they went about their daily lives.

Cheetahs were also seen very close to the lodge.

Lions are still regular visitors, so much so, that the thought of changing the lodge’s name to Lion Lodge did cross our mind. They appear any time from early evening to early morning and often a good night sleep is replaced with a good night listening to them roaring or watching them in the spot light.

Lions Kafue National ParkIt is more often than not the big male lion that we have called “Ginger” that comes to visit, but we are also being visited regularly by a younger male we have called “Coco” who has two lionesses following him, Cinnamon and Cindy. Further there are another two lionesses that visit and often with Ginger.

These 6 lions are the regulars and move all around the lodge, past the chalets, bar, dining room, swimming pool and often through the staff village.

A large breeding herd of elephants came to drink from the Kafue River across from our deck. It was lovely to see the babies, which were being well protected by their mothers, trying to work out how to use their trunk and attempting to copy the adults drinking.

Elephants Kafue national ParkBull Elephants have also been in and around the lodge feeding on anything they can find – keeping the gardens looking good is an impossible job.

Max our Hippo is still around – some evenings he comes out early to mow the lawn and sometimes we just realize he had been around during the night from his tracks. Sometimes during the day he just pops up in the river near the deck to say: “ I’m still around”

Rangers Diary: 13th – 19th October 2013

Sept -Oct. 2013 024This week wasn’t just about lions like it has been for many weeks now. We do still get our regular lion visitors as always and lions have been seen regularly on game drives. This week game viewing has been amazing.

We have also been fortunate to see three leopards this week. One on a game drive and the other two from the deck at the lodge on two different occasions..

We were sitting on the deck when we noticed a leopard coming out of the long grass. We got an excellent view of it for about 10 minutes as it walked along the river bank before disappearing into the bush.

Spain Ladies 848Other great sightings we had this week was a herd of 40 Eland, a herd of 20 Sable Antelope, yellow baboon, porcupine and a very big Green Mamba crossing the road.

 

Rangers Diary: 30th Sept – 6th Oct 2013

Wim & Conny Photo's 166Although the bush in Kafue National Park is dusty and dry and days hot we still enjoy lovely morning, evening and night temperatures. The swimming pool though is a great refreshment and thoroughly enjoyed by the guests.

The two big lion brothers (that we call Copper and Coin) made their appearance across the river from our deck one afternoon, surely they were out hunting and soon disappeared into the bush.

Kafue National ParkFor a straight four days now we have had elephants around the lodge breaking some trees and always include the mango tree.

Guests were lucky this week seeing cheetah and leopards. As well as a wide diversity of general game including Sable Antelope.

During the river cruises we saw some beautiful birds, antelope on the river banks, crocodiles in the river, an otter and a monitor lizard.

Fishing was great to for those who went fishing. Though it is catch and release guests enjoyed every minute of it.

Fishing in Africa: Yellow-bellied Bream

Yellow-bellied Bream

There is definitely sign of new life with most of the trees now covered in new green leaves. There are, however, a few that are only now shaking off their last leaves.

Rangers Diary: 23rd -29th September 2013.

In the heat of the day not many animals venture into camp but after 5 in the afternoon when it starts to cool the activity increases with Puku, Impala, Bush Buck  and sometimes even Kudu coming to feed on the vegetation in and around the lodge.

Lion Kill Kafue National ParkLions are regular visitors and one night we had two kills at the lodge, one behind the dining room and the other behind one of the staff houses. We found the remains of what was left over of the Puku that the lions had killed behind the staff house, but the other carcass was dragged into the river by a crocodile.

With regular visits by the lions we are very alert, but they always seem to surprise us. One evening as I went outside, one of our staff gave me a sign, I thought he was referring to the elephants that were breaking branches not far off. But he was calling to my attention a lioness lying right at the dining room that I had not seen. Later we found out there were actually 3 lionesses, the other two just out of sight around the corner.

Sept -Oct. 2013 022Guests out on a boat cruise spotted three lions lying just in front of Chalet 5, they radioed the lodge to warn us. Later on the big male lion, we call “Ginger” led two lionesses through the camp. Once they had passed I continued with what I was doing, when suddenly I was surprised by the appearance of a fourth lion, that the guests had obviously missed.

Sept -Oct. 2013 019Some guests were having snacks at the bar one afternoon when they saw a lioness on the river bank moving towards some antelope that weren’t far off. With great excitement we all waited for a kill. The lioness was obviously not hungry and went and lay down in the shade of a tree very close to the antelope.

Rangers Diary 16th – 22nd September 2013

Going on an African safari is always the luck of the draw, however there is always something to see whilst at Leopard Lodge as the Kafue National Park has a vast diversity of game and bird life.

Sable Antelope Kafue National ParkGuests returning from an afternoon game drive having seen Sable Antelope, Hartebeest, Wild cats, Bush Babies and White Tailed Mongoose couldn’t believe their eyes when a lioness walked through camp right past where we were having dinner.

The next day shortly after leaving the lodge on a game drive, with the same guests, we came across 3 cheetah hunting Kudus.

Cheetah Kafue National ParkA cheetah by itself would not generally try take an animal the size of a fully grown Kudu, but with three of them they had a chance. We managed to watch them for about an hour; just when we thought the cheetah were going to get lucky the Kudu, moved off quickly into thick bush and cheetah gave up.

That evening back in the camp, to our guests’ disbelief, we once again saw the lioness. In our flashlight we could see her coming from our furthest Chalet. Once passed all our Chalets she turned, to our guests relief, to the parking area where she disappeared in the dark.

They weren’t the only guests to be extremely lucky and also saw lions in camp. Lions visited the camp regularly even during our next guests stay. They also had the wonderful experience on Friday evening when the monkeys and baboons went absolutely crazy, barking loudly. This was their alarm call, letting all for miles around know of an approaching danger.

We then heard the distinctive call of a leopard and we then knew why everybody was so on edge. As the leopard was calling we knew it was not hunting but communicating to other leopard. We took our open safari vehicle out and searched the area, but unfortunately we couldn’t find it or another leopard it was trying to find,

Rangers Diary 9th – 15th September 2013

Kafue National Park

Spring in the Kafue National Park

Lions have visited the lodge regularly this week visit. The Lions sometimes walked quietly through the camp and their presence only noticed by footprints in the morning. However they often draw attention to themselves by roaring as they pass through or whilst resting at different points around the lodge.

The alarm call of a puku woke me one night and with a spot light I could see a lioness close to a chalet and another lying close to our carport. Their plan to catch a puku had been ruined as the puku had discovered them in time.

Another night this week, a loud roar, very close by, got me up and I looked out of my room, but couldn’t see anything a lion must have been just down on the river bank out of sight. The following morning the tracks and vultures told the story of the nights activities.

Lion Kill Kafue National ParkJust meters away from our dining area down on the river bank were vultures and the carcass of a puku. From the tracks we could see that a big male lion had caught it right at our dining area and dragged it a short distance away to feast on it.

One afternoon as the guests were waiting on the deck to go fishing they saw a lion walking on the river bank walking directly towards them, they quickly retreated to the safety of the lodge.

During a bird photographic boat cruise the emphasis on the target species changed drastically as just 500m from the lodge a young male lion and lioness were spotted sleeping under a tree.

It has been a good week for lion, but we must not forget the elephants that we saw on drives, whilst canoeing and on boat cruises, as well as the big bull who spent a couple of hours feeding just outside our reception. The general game has also been plentiful on Fishing in Africagame drives.

Fishing has also been excellent and guests have found it easy pulling in a number of fish from the rich Kafue River.

Rangers Diary: 2nd – 08th September 2013

For wildlife lovers this is definitely the time to be in the bush. As we wait for our first rains, waterholes in the Kafue National Park are drying up and animals come to the Kafue River to drink. The lodge lawns are also a green oasis compared to the dry grasses surrounding us.Elephant Kafue National Park

The combination of the two attracts a wide diversity of animals right to our door step and you don’t really have to leave the lodge to have an amazing safari.

Daily we can count on puku, impala, warthogs and vervet monkeys visiting the camp. Guests were amazed when a herd of elephants crossed the river near to them whilst they sat on the deck enjoying a drink.

Lions Kafue National ParkSitting at the deck, one morning, we heard the roar of lions and it was not long after that two male lions appeared. They walked down the bank across from us, and with the morning sun making their coats shine, it was a beautiful sight.

At night some of the antelope stay on the lodge lawns, well that’s when there are no lions around. They are joined by hippo, normally just Max, who comes almost every night. But, this week guests saw 6 hippos just outside their chalet shortly after retiring after dinner.

Ginger, our resident lion, made his appearance early one evening, entering the lodge at our furthest chalet. He paraded past all the chalets, then past the kitchen to the staff village. A staff member who was preparing dinner got such a fright and ran and hide in one of the rooms until he had past.

The African bush is not only about the big five and we have been fortunate, and enjoyed seeing a number of the smaller animals such African Wild Cat, Genets, White-tailed Mongoose, Civets and Jackals.

Rangers Diary: 26th August – 1st September 2013

After witnessing the power and speed of lionesses hunting on a game drive, guests had their hearts in their mouths, when later, after the drive, as they sat on the deck with a drink, two lionesses came onto the lodge lawns and were moving in their direction.

The lionesses moved off their line some distance from the guests, walked past the kitchen and through the parking area, before disappearing into the bush.

Lilac Breasted Roller Kafue National ParkBirding has been exceptional at the moment with  a few of the migrants already returning, which indicates that winter is finally over. The first to return, as normal, was the Yellow-billed Kite then this week we saw the most striking Lilac Breasted Roller.

During boat cruises on the river the number of water birds we are finding is fantastic and we often see endangered birds such as Wattled Cranes, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Ground Hornbill and African Finfoot.

Wattled Crane Kafue National ParkEvery morning you are greeted by the Shallow’s Turaco flying over your head to the Sycamore Fig’s, often with a few Green Pigeons in tow.

All these birds are all big points on a twitcher’s check-list whilst visiting southern Africa and considered incredibly difficult to find, but at Leopard Lodge they can be found with ease.