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 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.

 

Rangers Diary

Working in the bush means that you can find yourself in interesting, but scary, situations.

Some housekeeping was needed in a chalet, as three of us approached the chalet a big male lion that was lying just out of sight suddenly flew out at us. Thank goodness it was only a mock charge, just warning us to keep our distance. We did, and spent the rest of the day at the bar.

Two of our staff went to collect the game viewing vehicle which had been left on the opposite bank of the river when guests had returned by boat. They were near the vehicle when two male lions charged at them. Fortunately they were near enough to the vehicle to jump to safety.

One evening just before the guests came for dinner a big male lion appeared right at the restaurant, stood there for awhile then with a low growl warned the two of us standing at the entrance. He then moved off and lay in the long grass just outside of camp. The same time we had two lionesses lying in the parking area.

Rangers Diary: 6th – 12th May 2013

Owing to lions around the camp, almost permanently now, guests found themselves having to stay on the deck during the day as it was too dangerous to walk to the chalets.

A big male lion and a lioness have decided the lodge is just the place for them. In the evenings we need to drive guests to their chalets to ensure they arrive safely. Staff are also resorting to using vehicles and I had a case where the male lion was lying right at the door of my room when I went home one night.

One morning staff took the boat to collect guests from their chalets as lions lay between the chalets and the main buildings. As I came out to wave to the guests the male lion mock charged me from where he and the lioness had spent the night.

Transporting guests to their chalets and back came part of the job for the next few days until the lions moved off for awhile.

With all the excitement happening in camp we did however venture out on game drives to see if we could find other animals apart from lions and were well rewarded with a variety of game, including sable, hartebeest, jackal, civet, wild cat and a stunning leopard sighting.

Guests returning from Jifumpa Village, where you can witness local life, were not far from the lodge when they saw 4 young cheetah right in front of them in the road. Probably the 4 we saw with their mother a couple of weeks back, roughly in the same place.

Rangers Diary 29th April – 5th May 2013

Lions around the camp are still a regular happening and often guests see them from their chalet. One evening guests saw a lioness chase some impala that were feeding on our lawns. The lioness was unsuccessful this time.

Later a big male lion was seen lying peacefully near the bar and four lionesses lying not far away at the solar panels

As if the lions around the camp weren’t enough we saw a pride of 6 lions during an evening game drive.

Guests on a boat cruise saw a massive crocodile, lots of hippo and an elephant close by on the river bank.

On a game drive we found the two male lions that our guests had seen lying on the bank across the river from our deck. With all the lion action in camp they could probably smell the females but do not know how to cross the river.

Lions, lions everywhere. Not only are they all around camp, but guests were totally spoilt by seeing a total of 12 lions at 3 different sightings during a game drive.

Rangers Diary 22nd – 28th April 2013

Coming on duty early one morning I noticed 2 lionesses walking into camp from behind the chalets towards reception. And then at reception they disappeared into the thick bush. But reappeared just on the other side of the reception building before moving off in the direction of the airstrip. A third lioness came from the chalets walked past the restaurant and into the bush, also heading in the direction of the airstrip.

Not far from camp we were very fortunate to find 4 young cheetahs with their mother just walking down the road with the young cheetahs in a playful mood. Chasing and jumping on one another.

The big male lion, we call “Ginger”, that now basically lives at the lodge, has a mate; a beautiful lioness.  They move between the chalets and find a comfortable place to rest up.

Whilst the lions were so busy around camp, guests did find the time to sneak out on boat trips and enjoyed the amazing diversity of birdlife which is found in this area. Also seeing hippos and a huge crocodile.

Max, the hippo also showed himself in the evenings when he came to feed on our lawns.

Rangers Diary 15th – 21st April 2013

Elephants, lion and hippo are almost guaranteed now on a daily and nightly basis at the lodge. Our regular male lion visitor one evening went and lay right at the bar. Guests of the lodge are really looked after by our caring staff, but in this case this visitor wasn’t offered a drink.

Game drives have been very rewarding and the Kafue National Park with its massive diversity of game species has been offering some stunning sightings. In particular sable antelope and large herds of eland.

With the river still flowing strongly we are finding canoeing upstream quite hard work so we are generally doing the more relaxed thing and going with the flow. With very little effort we paddle downstream and get a vehicle to pick us up down the river. This is a wonderful way of seeing the many water birds that frequent the area as well as getting to see game coming down to drink.

Rangers Diary 8th – 14th April 2013

One thing about Leopard Lodge is that you don’t actually have to go on game drives to see some amazing game, you can just relax on our deck that extends out over the Kafue River and watch the animals coming down to drink.

Guests thought they were lucky when they saw an elephant across the river, but then, shortly later an elephant came out of the bush near our parking area strolled through camp, passed the deck, where the they were sitting, and went to feed on our mango trees.

With the Park beginning to dry out, more and more elephants have filtered their way back to the river and we are getting daily sightings of them on drives and often in camp.

Our nightly visits by a male lion coincided, on two nights, with a visit by the same elephant bull which was feeding on the mango trees. The first night as the lion roared so the elephant trumpeted, walked through the lodge and disappeared into the bush behind the generator house. The next time the elephant was much more relaxed and just carried on feeding.

Rangers Diary 1st – 7th April 2013

It is wonderful to have the lodge open again after a short break during the wet season and the animals seemed to welcome our return by popping in to visit.

The stunning male lion that visits us frequently, which we have nicknamed “Ginger”, strolled into camp at about 5 in the morning, to the disgust of a herd of impala that were on the lawns. The Impala barked their warning calls continuously. The lion lay down and looked at them for awhile before realizing he had no chance and disappeared into the bush.

For the next few nights he was back every night and found it very comfortable lying next to the swimming pool whilst listening to other lions roaring across the river from our deck.

Our lawns are still filled daily with herds of impala and puku. Warthogs and monkeys are regulars as well. At night “Max” the hippo makes his regular visits to feed on our grass and lies up near the kitchen.