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Tusk Photo is a company that specializes in photographic safaris to both Africa and other international wildlife destinations
Tusk Photo is a company that specializes in photographic safaris to both Africa and other international wildlife destinations


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Three 'New' Leopards with two Kills and a Lion Kill at Elephant Plains ...

Hendri's Bulletin from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari:

We heard that Wild Dogs had been sighted yesterday afternoon, so as soon as we were on our vehicles this morning we went off to find them. No luck there!

While searching for the dogs we heard that a young male leopard had been sighted with a kill in a tree. Moments before we arrived, however, the agile cat jumped down from the tree with his kill and started to carry the baby impala carcass across the veld. Eventually he found a large Jackalberry Tree that seemed to suit his purpose and he hoisted the remains up onto a thick, sturdy branch. He settled down close to the carcass and after making himself comfortable he dozed off.

We weren't sure how long the leopard's sleep would be, so we moved off, deciding rather to follow up on a report about lions in the vicinity. We found a large pride, all sprawled out and showing no inclination to move at all. Their bellies looked very full, and they were very content to simply lie there, fast asleep, during the warm daylight hours.

This afternoon we tried to find the dogs again, but again we had no luck there. We returned to the young male leopard with his kill in the tree and to our surprise he had moved again. The only sign we could see were tracks that we followed, but our search was interrupted by a call to inform us that a female leopard with a cub had been spotted. It was very close by so we dashed there to find the cub up in a tree with a kill. The cub alternately ate, and then moved the kill to a different branch, then ate again and then moved the remains again. It just didn't seem to be comfortable with any of the positions and moved the kill after each nibble.

The mother watched from her position under the tree where she rested. Eventually the cub came down to join mom, and as the late afternoon golden light was superb our photos were most satisfying. The cub flopped down next to the mother and she greeted the little one with plenty of grooming, licking and nuzzling.

It was dark by now and we hoped that the lions would be up and about, so we paid them a quick visit, hoping that they would be stirring. They were close to where we left them in the morning and surprisingly they had a kill - a White-tailed Mongoose. The lions were not hungry and left the youngsters to play with the kill. They dragged the carcass around, pounced on it, stole it from each other, ran away tauntingly, and then surrendered it to the next cub. It was great fun to watch. We used spotlights to capture the fun action until it was almost past time to return to the Lodge.

Tomorrow is our final morning for this safari and our plan is to return to the boisterous young lions again ...
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Six Separate Leopard Sightings in One Day at Elephant Plains ...

Hendri Shares His News from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari:

Well - what a lovely surprise as we woke up this morning. Clear skies and no hint of clouds. We left the Lodge just as the sky started to turn an early grey colour and to our delight we found a young male leopard very close to the Lodge. He is new to the area and therefore still a little skittish. He was very cautious about allowing us too close so we remained at a respectful distance so as not to alarm him. He is a handsome young fellow with a pink nose. Very photographable.

We were still with the young male leopard when we heard that another leopard had been spotted. This time we found a young female lying on a termite mound. She looked lovely in the early light. When she moved from one termite mound to the next - and the next - and the next, we followed, taking photographs of the relaxed young cat all the while.

Almost unbelievably, we found a third leopard. This young female had killed a baby impala moments before our arrival, but she had fled way up into the safety of a dense tree where she was quite obscured by thick foliage. Hyenas circled the base of the tree, gazing upward and hoping that scraps, or even the whole kill would drop. But not many bits and pieces dropped while we were there.

This afternoon our first major stop was to photograph an elephant in a riverbed. Just then a call came through about a male leopard close to the reserve boundary. As we arrived he jumped down from the termite mound where he had been resting and walked directly towards us. He is a large, strong, older cat, and we could see his powerful muscles as he walked close to us before he disappeared into a neighbouring territory.

A Rhino with a three month old calf was next. It was wonderful to see them and we remained with them for a while.

A fifth leopard for the day was next! We found this male close to a dam. We saw hyenas milling around, watching the cat intently and realised that he must have a kill close by. We actually wondered if it was the same young skittish male that we saw early this morning as his behaviour was similar, but we were in a different area of the reserve, so we are unsure whether he travelled this far during the day. We looked around for a kill, but couldn't see anything like that.

We decided to return to the female leopard with the kill in the tree. On the way there, and still a few kilometres away, we found her out in the open. She was stalking a herd of impala. We stopped, cameras ready. As she crept closer to the impalas hyenas arrived on the scene and chased her into a tree. Thwarted!

By now the sun had set and we needed spotlights to photograph the leopard up in the tree. When she came down from the tree we followed her for about forty-five minutes as she made her way through the bush. As she moved along she hunted anything and everything - mice, frogs, anything small was fair game for her. It was enthralling to watch her in action.

So after a very full day with six leopard sightings (four or five different leopards) we are back at the Lodge, ready to compare our images and to share and recount the events of the day. Hopefully tomorrow will be as productive ...
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Three Different Leopards During Our Wet Day at Elephant Plains ...

Brendon's News from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari:

The cool, wet weather persisted as we started out this morning. The heavy rain throughout the night stopped before dawn and we were able to leave the Lodge without getting wet.

We found fresh tracks that belonged to a female leopard and followed these for a short time. They led us to the young cat as she walked through the bush. She examined the shrubs and foliage and then scent marked after the rain as she progressed along. Now and then she called, looked around, called again, and then continued with her scent-marking quest.

Eventually we left her and drove around. A call interrupted our drive. Another leopard had been found. She was standing on top of a termite mound and we all used flash because of the rather dark weather. She looked beautiful against that gloomy grey sky behind her.

We were still busy with her when the rain started to bucket down again, so we cut our game drive a little short to return to the shelter and warmth of the Lodge where our Tusk Safari group enjoyed one last get-together over a very welcome warm meal and steaming coffee before they departed (still in the rain) for home.

The new safari group arrived, a little concerned about the weather, but after a get-together meal and a briefing everyone was anxious to get going.

And to the group's delight we were very fortunate to find another young female leopard. She was a little shy, lying on a termite mound. The lovely young cat posed for a while, and yawned widely. Then the heavens opened again and she darted off.

We stuck it out for a short while, but as the rain showed no sign of abating we rather returned to the Lodge, a little disappointed that we could not have remained out for longer, but delighted with the beautiful images that we had been able to collect.

So, in spite of the conditions, everyone is in good spirits and the weather report for tomorrow seems fairly optimistic so we are hoping for a few hours without rain ...

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Nine Adult Hyenas Intimidated by a Warthog at Elephant Plains ...

Hendri Reports from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari:

We headed straight back to the hyena den this morning to see what the outcome was from that very strange visit from the very unwelcome warthog that arrived and made itself at home with the hyena pups in the burrow.

We arrived at the den to find nine large adult hyenas milling around - and the warthog was still there. The hyenas were totally perplexed and didn't even try to engage the warthog in any type of confrontation. In fact every time the warthog approached the hyenas they all scattered with their tails between their legs. There was great confusion as pups ran around excitedly in all directions, while the adults fled and then came slinking back slowly, only to dash off again as the warthog turned to face them. It was tremendously exciting to watch as the determined warthog tried to take over the den.

We heard a leopard calling not far away and tried to locate it, but no luck there. But the diversion gave us time to take a deep breath and to calm down after the earlier drama.

We moved on and found White Rhinos. It was a superb sighting with Oxpeckers busy on the backs and faces of the rhinos.

Our second vehicle bumped into a young female leopard - the same young cat that we saw the other day. We joined them immediately and found her as she posed beautifully on top of a termite mound. There was no obstruction which made for some superb photography. We photographed her from all angles, close-ups, side views, wide-angle shots, you name it.

Then the rain came down quite heavily and we decided that it would be a good time to return to the Lodge for breakfast and a rest before the afternoon safari.

We returned to the young leopard as soon as we left the Lodge this afternoon. During our absence she had made another kill. She was lying under a tree feeding on her kill. We watched as she finished eating and then started to walk away. We hoped that she was on her way to a waterhole for a drink, but after she had strolled along for about five hundred meters she found a comfortable spot to lie down.

During our break at the Lodge we heard that two of the large Birmingham male lions had been seen and we thought it would be an idea to take a chance and to follow up on that sighting. On our way there we found a lone lioness. She was calling repeatedly, but there was no response. We arrived at the male lions to find them flat out, fast asleep. The sun had just set, so our spotlights came out. After a few photographs we made way for another vehicle and rather returned to the lone female. She was on a termite mound, but she was very restless and started to walk and call again. We followed her with our spotlight as she walked along and called nonstop.

Before we returned to the Lodge we detoured past the male lions again for more spotlight work. By now we have quite an impressive collection of lion shots in spotlights.

In the morning we would like to return to the lions, hoping that they will be more active ...
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The Big Five - and A Strange Warthog Trespasser at Elephant Plains ...

Brendon's News from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari:

It was cool and drizzly as we left the Lodge this morning, and we all thought that oh dear, it is one of those days when the animals remain sheltered and out of sight.

We were wrong.

Shortly after leaving the Lodge we found a lone lioness. She was walking around hither and thither, contact calling all the time, trying to locate her pride. We thought it could be the female that was mating recently and having separated from the male she was trying to rejoin her pride. We followed her as she called and called, going here, then changing direction, trying this way, then that.

Eventually she went to stand on a small termite mound where called for several minutes. Again and again she called. Suddenly she dashed off to a bush about five meters from the mound where she grabbed a baby impala. She had spotted the little animal while calling and was not going to miss the chance of a quick meal. Lions are truly opportunistic hunters. She took her kill to a thicket where she lay down to consume her meal.

When she completed her meal the big cat resumed her quest to find her pride. We followed her until she disappeared into a dense thicket and we could no longer keep up with her.

We went in search of the male lion, and while we were trying to find his tracks we bumped into a single male rhino, and soon thereafter we found elephants and then buffalo. So we were well on our way to marking off the Big Five for the day ... only a leopard still to be spotted.

So the bush surprised us again! Having expected a dull morning because of the weather, we ended up enjoying a busy, exciting and varied time.

This afternoon was still quite cool and overcast, but there was no drizzle. We visited the hyena den where we were totally taken aback when a warthog appeared and actually went right into the hyena hole in a termite mound. He went right in! Naturally the resident hyenas objected furiously and gathered around the hole, venting their anger. We expected the warthog to emerge and to bolt from the scene, but no - he remained in the hole! He had chosen his sleeping quarters for the night and the hyenas could fuss as much as they pleased, he had no intention of leaving. The hyenas were very confused that the warthog was cuddling up with their hyena pups in the den but they could do nothing about it! A strange situation indeed!

We heard that a leopard had been spotted in the east. We found a female leopard walking steadily and then noticed that she was following a hyena. She moved as though she had a purpose in mind. Ahhh ... that was why ... she picked up a baby impala and quickly dragged it up into a tree. She clearly had thought that the hyena was on its way to pinch her kill, and she followed to retrieve it.

We remained with the leopard and her kill until after sunset when our flashes and spotlights came out and we could capture the scene with the gradually changing sky as a beautiful background.

Against all our early expectations, we ended up having another outstanding day here at the Sabi Sand Reserve, and we have more to look forward to ...
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A Successful Leopard Hunt with a Small Twist at Elephant Plains ...

Hendri Reports from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari:

As planned we first tried to find the Wild Dog pack again this morning, but there was simply no sign of them.

However, we found fresh leopard tracks and started to follow these. Our search was interrupted when we heard about a pair of lions that were mating. We arrived to find them resting and although the male tried to stimulate some interest in the female she was not at all interested and rebuffed his advances very firmly. She wanted nothing to do with him. He gave up and the two wandered off to an open area at Big Dam where everyone was able to get some really good shots of the honeymoon couple.

Soon after that we were very pleased to see some White Rhinos lying in a cool muddy patch where they tried to counteract the heat of the day.

There are numerous herd of elephants here, and throughout the morning and afternoon drives we saw quite a few of them, including a breeding herd with calves of different ages enjoying themselves at a waterhole, splashing and spraying water everywhere to cool down.

A Side-striped Jackal was going about his business, foraging around the bush. I am not sure why, but he looked really scruffy. At least he was close to us and we could capture some great photographs of the unkempt fellow.

This afternoon we followed up on the leopard tracks that we saw in the morning. We noticed that there were both male and female tracks and came to understand that they are mating - but where?

Then we found a young female leopard. She was stalking a Scrub Hare and managed to flush it out into the open on the airstrip where she chased it at full speed. It was so very exciting. She managed to catch the hare, and we had just decided that it was all over when the hare somehow managed to get away and dash in the direction of the bushes at the side of airfield. But the leopard went after her prey and grabbed it again. As she did this, the sounds brought hyenas running onto the scene and the young cat had no choice other than to bolt up the nearest tree. Unfortunately for her the tree was little more than a sapling, very slender and very precarious. So all she could do was to consume her kill right there and then, clinging uncomfortably to a branch that could just about bear her weight. The hyenas circled and jumped around the tree, hoping that the kill would be dropped. Our photographs of that encounter also turned out really well, and when the sun set our spotlights came out.

The hyenas finally gave up and slunk away. A few moments later the leopard dropped what little was left of the kill and jumped out of the tree. She ignored the remains and went to a nearby Waterhole where she had a welcome drink. Our spotlights highlighted her beautiful reflection in the water, and the setting was just right for some more very memorable images.

Back at the Lodge everyone compared notes and images, feeling extremely lucky that another day at the Sabi Sand Reserve delivered exactly what we all hoped for – and more. So, in the morning we may start with a search for the Wild Dogs again ..
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Busy Big Cats and Sleeping Dogs at Elephant Plains ...

Brendon's News from from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari:
(Photos From Back of Brendon’s Camera)

After arriving at Elephant Plains we met for a convivial lunch followed by our usual briefing before it was time for our first game drive.

During lunch we heard that a pack of Wild Dogs had been sighted during the morning drive and our first plan was to check on them first. On the way to them we found a herd of elephants accompanied by a big bull.

We reached the Waterhole where the dogs had been seen, but they had moved away - but not too far. We found them in slumped in clump of shady bushes. It is very hot here and they were in a lovely sheltered spot out of the sun, all fast asleep. They were clearly not going to do much during the heat of the day other than rest so we left them to their slumbers.

A call came through about a leopard in a tree with an impala kill. We shot off there and found the female leopard up in a tree. The visibility was excellent and we were able to get some fabulous photographs of the leopard feeding on the remains of a young impala. To our delight she decided to come down from the tree, giving us the opportunity to capture those iconic shots as she made her way down to the ground.

The sun set and darkness set in while we followed the big cat as she moved through the bush, and we were able to use our spotlights for some night-time photography. We left her for a while at one stage when she went to lie down in some long grass.

While the leopard rested we quickly dashed off to follow up on a report about two lionesses. One has small cubs about four to five months old. The cubs were very boisterous as they jumped around, stalked mom's tail, leaped onto her and fell off again to roll in the grass, and then pounced on any moving blade of grass or rustling plant. They copied one another in everything they did, little mirror-images of joy!

When we returned to the leopard she was moving around, and our cameras and spotlights were extra busy until she finally disappeared somewhere into the darkness and it was time to return to the Lodge for dinner.

After such a great start to our safari we are really excited about the next days. In the morning we would like to see if the dogs will be more active ...
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Zimanga Photo Safari: Lionesses Hunt a Buffalo ...

Hendri Reports News from the Zimanga Photo Safari:

The weather was glorious when we woke up and we set out in our different groups in beautiful, early golden light. Just the type of morning one dreams about when back in the city.

During the night those at the Overnight Hide again had plenty of buffalo and rhino visitors while warthogs accompanied by oxpeckers arrived just in time to be photographed as the dawn colours lit up the sky.

The Scavenger Hide was a real winner today. The attendant vultures included plenty of White-backed and a few Lappet-faced Vultures while the odd Hooded Vulture could also be spotted from time to time. Then a Spotted Hyena arrived and immediately sent the vultures scattering and flitting in all directions - but not for long.

As always the Birdbath Hide proved to be very productive with numerous species stopping to bathe or for a welcome drink. Suddenly all the birds flew away. Why ... ahhhh, fabulous! A Banded Mongoose family arrived to enjoy the water.

On our terrific game drive we found a lioness with her three little Cubs aged about four months. They were too cute as they played their kittenish games. They stalked each other, tumbled on and over each other and enjoyed a lively game of see who can catch mommy's tail!

Then the lionesses spied a lone buffalo and immediately went into hunting mode. Here we go, we thought, and watched with bated breath as the started to close in on their unaware prey. Unaware? No! The buffalo wily spotted his stalkers and dashed away at full speed.

A pack of Wild Dogs ran along a wide open plain and we followed them for a while, taking photographs as they ran, stopped, looked around and ran again. When they gave up we returned to the Lodge for a late breakfast.

This afternoon a thick bank of clouds rolled in and the rain started. A few hardy photographers decided to try the Lagoon Hide but it was very gloomy there with very poor light and few visitors.

But another night in the Overnight Hide was very successful again ... by now we really expect the nocturnal visits from buffalos and rhinos and different buck, and for us it was rounded off in the early morning when a herd of elephants arrived to drink and splash ...

Our cameras are full and we are all delighted with our images as we look forward to clear weather for our final precious hours at Zimanga ...
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Zimanga Photo Safari: Another Very Full 24 Hours with Great Photographic Success ...

Brendon Reports from the Zimanga Photo Safari:

We started the morning with another fabulous game drive. We found a pack of Wild Dogs almost immediately and as the early golden light bathed everything in that special warm glow we were able to capture dozens of fabulous photographs. We followed the dogs for quite some time me time until they headed into a gully where we could no longer follow.

We stopped for a welcome coffee break after which we photographed a herd of elephants followed by rhinos. There are herds of buffalo dotted around the area, so we collected plenty of shots of them in groups or singly.

We tried to find lions again, but they were nowhere to be seen this morning. However, we did find a female cheetah. She posed for us as she peered around, scrutinising the area for any possible prey nearby. She looked rather skinny, so we realised that she would definitely hunt seriously quite soon.

The guests who visited the different hides also came away with lovely images of some of the different species that abound here. Weavers, Quelea, Waxbills, Fire-finches, Brown-hooded Kingfisher to mention a few of the smaller birds. The Vulture Hide was extra active again and a Black-backed Jackal arrived again to harass the birds.

The group that went on the afternoon game drive found the two male lions that we had hoped to see in the morning. They were in the open and everyone on the drive was able to fill their cameras with great photographs of the two. Soon after they found the female cheetah that we had spotted in the morning and sure enough! She had a fresh impala kill. She had hunted during the course of the day and had a good meal.

In the afternoon we went to the Overnight Hide that was as busy as can be again. There was so much action! Buffalo arrived in their hundreds throughout the afternoon and right through the night. Rhinos arrived in between the buffalos which meant that we had very little time with nothing to photograph.

Everyone is delighted with today's results again, and we are looking forward to our final full day here tomorrow, when we plan to make the absolute most of our time ...

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Sabi Sand Photo Safari: A Fearsome Rhino Battle ...

Ben's News from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari:

Thinking that we may be able to track Tiyane, the young female leopard, again this morning, we left the Lodge early and started to search for tracks. It was raining as we set out and the light was rather dull, but as we started to search for tracks we received a call about three lions.

We found two lionesses and a young male lion at a kudu kill. We photographed them for a while before we decided to see what else we could find.

With the intermittent rain everything seemed fairly quiet and after a lovely coffee break and chat in the bush we returned to the Lodge for breakfast.

This afternoon we were determined to find rhino - and we did. There was a rhino gathering at a waterhole - there were six in total. Three were actually in the water, while the large male stood on the water's edge and two youngsters remained on the periphery. We photographed them all, hoping that the male who obstructed our view of the three in the water would move. But he didn't move at all. So we contented ourselves with photographs of the big bull, and the youngsters.

We were joined by our second vehicle that had detoured to photograph elephants at Big Dam.

After a while the two male and one female rhino emerged from the water. One male was with the female, and remained with her. But the single male unexpectedly took offence at the other rhinos and suddenly charged. A massive fight ensued. Dust flew everywhere, horns lowered they chased each other. We had to move away because our proximity placed us in some danger. That rhino was really angry and appeared ready to charge anything at all.

It was quite a terrifying scene to witness, and we continued to watch wide-eyed when far enough to escape attention.

After this electrifying encounter we decided to stop for sundowners and to give our pulse rates a chance to slow again, while our second vehicle followed up on a call about the one-eye leopard, Ntsele.

Our vehicles met up again to visit the lions feeding on the Kudu. We photographed the lions using back-lighting and side-lighting. Each vehicle provided lighting for the other, getting front-lit shots while lighting the scene for the other vehicle. It worked out really well for both groups.

Back at the Lodge we are still filled with awe and talking about that fearsome rhino battle. It was something to see! Tomorrow morning we hope that our final drive may prove as exciting ...
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