What a fantastic drive WE had last night! Just like London buses, you wait a while for one and then 4 come along at once! What a wonderful sighting of Karula and the cubs AND Mixo also made an appearance!
Marc was on drive, with Catherine on camera, I was sitting in the directors chair in final control. The drive was very relaxed, a few buffalo were around, but with the humidity and heat climbing throughout the day, animals were a little scarce! Just as Marc heard a squirrel calling in a tree next to him, I saw Herman pulling up outside FC in a hurry. I was starting to think something was wrong, but then he shouted "Karula and the cubs have been seen on Vuyatela access road heading towards Sandy Patch!"
Not a moment was wasted to relay this wonderful piece of information to Marc! How quickly a drive can change! He was a distance away from the area, so immediately left the squirrel to it's calling and headed for Sandy Patch! Every second counts and in this situation you wish you could fly there! As he turned onto Vuyatela access to start looking for her, Mixo popped out in front of him, throwing a spanner in the works! Could Mixo have been mistaken for Karula? Sadly he didn't stick around, disappearing into thick bush.
Just as Marc spotted Karula and cub spoor, I got confirmation Patrick was the one to see her, so Mixo was a happy bonus! We later found out there was a kill not to far from where he crossed the road, which must have been where he had come from!
Marc did a great job of predicting Karula's next move and finding fresh track. The suspense was mounting as WE followed them into a notoriously bad signal area, Impala road. With a black screen, I was worried she may have crossed into thick bush already, but what a huge surprise when the picture came back and there was the lady herself drinking at a puddle! I am sure everyone watching was jumping as much as me!
He followed the family to the junction of Impala road and triple MMM, but instead of continuing West, they sat out in the road in full view. It was almost as if she could sense how much everyone wanted to see her and the cubs! WE were treated to one of the cubs grooming mum while one was draped over the side of the road! All leopards were panting very heavily and it certainly looked as though they had fed recently! This coupled with the heat, the cubs were not in the mood for play!
Keeping a respectful distance, WE were still not able to confirm the sex of the cubs, but WE all enjoyed spending a long awaited time with them!
Eventually other vehicles wanted to join the sighting, so Marc pulled out and went in search of the kill by the Quarantine open area. With Karula's tracks also in the area, it is hard to determine who had made the kill, we can only speculate. Did Mixo hunt that night or even the day before and Karula came to feed on it, or did Karula make the kill with Mixo turning up to share it?
As the sun set Mixo returned, but instead of going to the impala carcass in the tree, he sniffed around a bush where the kill might have been stashed earlier or maybe Karula had sat with the cubs! Certainly an exciting drive and great to know Karula was here with the cubs!
Thank you so much to everyone sending in pictures! I will be using those I haven't had chance to use in following Blogs! Maybe Marc might share his thoughts and pictures in a Blog at some stage! What a drive!
Written by Tara.