Rangers diary 13th – 24th October 2014

It has been quite an eventful 2 weeks here in Kafue National Park with both elephants and lions.

Basically every day we have had at least an elephant feeding on our trees in the lodge grounds and as normal doing a lot of damage – but they are always a welcome visitor.

Not far from camp, on a game drive, we saw an impala dashing across the road, this was followed by a large lioness. She jogged next to our vehicle, obviously trying to use us to cover her. The impala did get away and the lioness, who was now walking, was joined by another two lionesses and two cubs.

Later in the week we could hear something chewing, it was loud and we assumed that it was a lion that had made a kill in camp again. Well it was lion, but it was across the Kafue River from us.

We could see two young male lions coming down the bank to drink and then they lay in the shade of a big tree. They were joined by a big lioness and more lions of all sizes were visible in the grass.

Taking the boat we went and had a closer view. After some time more lions came to the bank and eventually we counted 9 in total.

Lions and hyenas have been through camp but they moved through during the night and very quietly; only their tracks gave their presence away.

The resident leopard has been a bit quiet during these last couple of weeks and we have heard him just once, when he was calling as he walked out of camp.

Kudus have also now ventured into camp. We have often seen them just outside our grounds, but obviously now they have built up the courage to come in.

Our lawn mower, Max the hippo, has been doing a fine job and works hard every night in keeping our grass nicely trimmed.

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Rangers Diary 23rd September – 12th October 2014

Not only is a pride of lions regular visitors to our lodge but we now have a resident male leopard who is being seen around the camp more and more regularly. It has been a month where we really didn’t have to go out on game drives or boat cruises.

Max, our resident hippo is back from a short trip to another feeding spot. His return was welcomed by our ground staff, that were busy getting the lawnmower warmed-up. With the hippos return they would be spared the job of cutting the grass.

Spring is busy fading away. Most of the beautiful flowering trees are now mostly dressed in their new green outfits and full of seeds which the birds and some antelopes are really enjoying. It’s just amazing to see all the trees covered in different shades of green.

The loud, sharp alarm call of an antelope, in the camp, one evening got me investigating. In my strong spotlight I could see three big lionesses with 3 cubs; they were moving down to the river where other lions had dragged a kill. Their victim had been caught just in front of one of our chalets.

DSC_0715The lions fed off the carcass the whole night and following morning. You could hear them chewing and grumbling all the time. Late in the morning two lionesses came up from the river and rested briefly right next to a chalet, before heading back for a further meal.

Having lions often in camp does create interesting times. Late afternoon, before the sun was even beginning to set, 4 big lionesses with Sept -Oct. 2013 0225 cubs walked past our chalets, then past the kitchen before heading to our staff quarters.

The staff was busy having a meal in the open kitchen area at the time. They suddenly saw the lions, but it was too late to do anything. They just sat like statues as the lions went by within 2 to 3 meters of them.

The lions didn’t even stop, just continued walking straight out of camp. So of the staff are now asking for danger pay.

The two big lions across the river from us have been roaring a lot and so much so that at times it has sounded if the world was going to end. It was so loud that one would think they were right outside the chalets. That night none of us could sleep.

Elephant Kafue National ParkElephants are also regulars, day and night. It is mostly bulls, singularly or in small groups, but every now and again we get the breeding herds passing through or very close by the lodge.

On one occasion we were watching a breeding herd of elephants crossing the river, from the opposite side to our side, when halfway across they started trumpeting loudly and turned back. All that we could think of was that they had seen crocodiles and as they had very young calves they were scared for their safety.

Rare but thereBirding has also been great with a lot of the migrants back now as well, some of the rarer bird sightings we have seen are: African Openbill, African Finfoot, Wattled Crane, Black Heron, Schalow’s Turaco, Martial Eagle, Square-tailed Nightjar, Arnott’s Chat, Violet backed Sunbird and Red throated Twin Spot.

 

Book and come soon – you won’t be disappointed

Rangers Diary 22nd July – 14th August 2014

Game viewing has been excellent over this last month with leopards seen from our deck, lions wondering through the lodge and elephants seen all over.

Early one morning we heard a grumbling noise from behind one of the staff houses and we soon realised it was the sound of lions feeding.

We were sure that it was the regular pride, of a male, 2 females and 3 cubs as they had been in camp for the last 4 nights and their tracks headed in that direction.

The situation was too dangerous to investigate, but they must have caught something big as they fed for the whole day.

Elephants Kafue National ParkElephants have been seen all over with one group of guests seeing at least 7 groups and were mocked charged a few times as the cows were protecting their youngsters.

The same guests also saw elephants twice whilst on a boat cruise.

Sable Antelope Kafue National ParkSable Antelope have been seen on a number of occasions not far from the lodge and on one occasion we saw a herd of 16. These magnificent animals with their black backs, white bellies and curved horns are great to see.

Lions kafue National ParkDuring one game drive in the Kafue National Park we were so fortunate with lions. We first came across a pride 8 Lions feasting on their waterbuck kill. Later we came across Copper and Coin (or resident lions) plus another 3 Lions (13 Lions on one drive).

We have even been lucky to see Leopards on game drive and from the Lodge’s deck we saw leopard twice walking on the other side of the Kafue River in the grass.

When we came across Crocodiles eating on the hippo carcass I thought that was the last of Max – the hippo that visited the lodge most nights last year, but up to this stage hadn’t appeared at all this year.

To our surprise Max returned twelve days ago and is now around every evening and every morning.

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: 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.