Part 8…Leopard Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

“Leopards are capable of carrying animals heavier than themselves and will often drag their prey into the fork of a tree several meters off the ground. This tree “lardering” protects the carcass against scavengers and allows a few days of undisturbed feeding.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Southern ground hornbill on a walk in Kruger. “The southern ground hornbill is characterized by black coloration and vivid red patches of bare skin on the face and throat (yellow in juvenile birds), which are generally believed to keep dust out of the bird’s eyes while they forage during the dry season. The white tips of the wings (primary feathers) seen in flight are another diagnostic characteristic. The beak is black and straight and presents a casque, more developed in males. Female southern ground hornbills are smaller and have violet-blue skin on their throats. Juveniles to six years old lack the prominent red pouch but have a duller patch of grey in its place.”

Most of today’s photo captions were acquired from this site.
It’s 1500 hours (3:00 pm), and we just returned from Kruger National Park for our self-drive for the four of us.  We piled in the little car and headed to the park with reasonably low expectations after our “Ridiculous Nine” adventure a week ago today.

I’m rushing to get done to leave in a little over an hour to go to Lisa’s (from Wild and Free Rehabilitation) property here in Marloth Park, where we’ll have sundowners with Lisa and Deidre (whom we visited with yesterday at the rehab center in Hectorspuit) and see the rescued bushbabies.  

“These big cats eat a variety of food, from wildebeest to fish, but most of their diet comes in the form of antelope. Baboons and leopards appear to be ancient enemies. Leopards will often stalk baboons sleeping in the trees at night and carry off one of the troop. There has been a case recorded in which a leopard that tried to attack a baboon in broad daylight was torn to pieces by the rest of the troop, which quickly came to the shrieking primate’s defense.”

This will be more exciting for Tom and Lois, who revel in one fascinating outing after another. Of course, we love every moment as well. Our day is Kruger was excellent as we’ll be adding to our bursting inventory of photos we’ve yet to post.

The days and nights have been more action-packed than our usual schedule, but we’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the activity and look forward to more during our guest’s remaining 12 days until they depart to return to the USA.

“The leopard’s hunting technique is to either ambush its prey or to stalk it. In either instance, it tries to get as close as possible to its target. It then makes a brief and explosive charge (up to 60km/h), pouncing on its prey and dispatching it with a bite to the neck. Leopards do not have the aptitude for chasing their quarry over any distance and will give up if the initial element of surprise is lost and the intended victim gets away.”

Last night we made a repeat dinner at Ngwenya Lodge and Restaurant but ran into a major snafu on my part. I must explain how this all came to pass by backtracking to last Saturday night.

Lately, I’ve been drinking low-alcohol wine, which is readily available in South Africa by a few well-respected vineyards. Both the very dry red and white wines appeal to me, but several restaurants in the area don’t regularly have these on their menus.

“The leopard is a graceful animal with an elongated body, relatively short legs, and a long tail. After the lion, it is the next-biggest African cat with an average body mass of between 60kg and 70kg, standing about two-thirds of a meter tall at the shoulder. Leopards in the wild may live up to 15 years. Unlike the lion, the leopard is a silent creature, only occasionally emitting a cough-like call.”

As a result, I asked to pay a corkage fee and bring the low-alcohol wine for my consumption bringing home whatever is left in the bottle after my few glasses.This has been well received by the restaurants.  

Generally, the corkage fee has been around ZAR 30 (US $2.09), not per glass but per evening. Since I don’t drink soda and don’t care to drink plain water, this choice of wine, although not very strong in alcohol content, makes me feel like I’m joining in the “sundowner” festivities.

Last Saturday night, with the four of us out to dinner at Jabula, I brought along an unopened bottle of Four Cousins Skinny Dry Red, my favorite. Once we were all seated at the bar, Lyn, our hostess explained they now were carrying this same wine. I was thrilled.  

We’d keep the bottle I’d brought along in my cloth grocery bag where I had the camera and a few odds and ends, never giving it another thought. When it was time to pay our bill and end the evening, I accidentally placed the bag on the floor with a little too much vigor. The wine bottle broke.

“Leopards are the least social – and perhaps the most beautiful – of the African big cats. They usually keep to themselves, lurking in the dense riverine bush or around rocky koppies, emerging to hunt late in the afternoon or at night.”

If that’s all that had transpired I wouldn’t have given it much of a thought. But, alas, the camera was in the bag and was destroyed by the red wine. It was undoubtedly damaged beyond repair.

We had two identical cameras. The one I destroyed was the older of the two. We need two cameras since Tom has become more and more proficient at taking photos and we are often in situations where we’re both taking shots simultaneously.

I left the destroyed camera on the table in the living room with both the data card and batteries out to at least ensure those weren’t ruined. I never gave it another thought other than to wonder how and when we’d replace the camera. It’s not as if there are many camera stores within any decent distance.  

Our friends, Lois and Tom from New Jersey, USA, whom we met two years ago on the 33-night cruise that circumvented the continent of Australia.

The closest camera store is a five-hour car ride to Johannesburg, and neither of us is interested in such a long-distance drive.

We’ll figure something out and report what we’ve decided at a later date.

So, last night, as we prepared to go to Ngwenya for another evening of river viewing, I grabbed the camera, and off we went. Little did I realize that I’d accidentally picked up the “dead” camera.  

Nor did we expect or know that there would be four rhinos in plain sight at the river from the veranda at Ngwenya. I was heartsick. Rhinos are hard to spot, and there I was without a working camera. Tom and Lois used an iPhone for photos, and it doesn’t have the long-distance capacity for these distant shots.

I asked a lovely woman at a table with her family next to ours if she’d send me a few of her photos. I gave her our business card, and she kindly complied. She even went as far as handing her camera over to me to take a few shots myself.

Tom and I with friends Lois and Tom at Aamazing River View restaurant, overlooking the Crocodile River.

Hopefully, it will work out for her to send me the photos to post them soon. In the interim, I put away the defunct camera out of plain sight and rely upon the camera we have left until we come up with a solution.

Oh, well, so it goes. It’s pointless for us to complain when we’ve had nothing but one great experience after another. We’re very grateful. We’ll live with it.

It’s time to get ready to go to Lisa’s home to see the bushbabies and share some sundowners with her and Deidre, who’ll also join us. We’ll be back with posts regarding our experiences with Wild and Free at both of these rescue locations.

Have a fantastic evening!

Photo from one year ago today, October 19, 2017:

Although this Flame Tree appears to be sprouting bananas, these yellow pods are actually the flower before blooming. It’s a favorite spot for birds that stop for a visit, including another variety of the popular flycatcher. For more photos, please click here.

Comments and responses Part 8…Leopard Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

  1. Anonymous

    Sorry for the camera. Is it really necessary to drive to Joburg for a new one? Nelspruit has lots of shops and I expect there will be a good camerashop as well. I thought there is one in the Riverside Mall. Just google…
    Regards, Cees

  2. Jessica

    Cees, thanks so much for your suggestion. We'd considered this but after considerable research have found they carry only later models, not the most current cameras. Plus the prices are much higher due to import in SA than in the USA. Thus, we've decided to purchase from USA, pay customs and shipping fees to get what we want. We'll be shipping it 3 day FED EX or DHL. Comparing prices it will be less expensive this way than buying here.

    Hope you both are doing well!
    Warmest regards,
    Jess & Tom

Leave a Reply