Sunday, September 26, 2004

The safari where we saw nine leopards!

A guided 21 day tailor made tour for five people in Zambia led to a record breaking number of leopard sightings for any one trip.
The trip included Kafue National Park, Chimfunshi Chimp Sanctuary, Kasanka National Park, Kapishya Hot Springs, Shiwa Ngandu House and South Luangwa National Park.
In Kafue a night drive revealed a male scenting his territory and we were able to watch this for around half an hour. In one evening in South Luangwa we saw four different leopards, one of these provided the classic pose of leopard in a tree.
Unusually one female leopard was seen around 8am, being harassed by a group of squawking guinea fowl. This tried her patience to the extent that she had to leave the riverbed and settle just 10 metres from the vehicle in order to sleep in peace. Three more leopards were seen on two further game drives.
Also in Luangwa a female lion with her cub successfully took down a female puku around 7pm with one powerful charge. This was dragged away to cover, with the hungry cub hanging on and tugging at the imminent meal. It seemed an unconventional hunting strategy, involving no stalking or build up to the kill, with a very successful end result.
Chimfunshi is the only place in Zambia where Chimps can be observed. This rescue and rehabilitation centre deals mainly with primates from The Democratic Republic of Congo, where animal trading has led to severe depletion of their numbers. After a quarantine and re-habituation phase they are released into large reserves of Miombo woodland where they then live as naturally as possible, but with the need to provide some food supplements.
Shiwa House is the subject of the book ‘The Africa House’ It is currently being restored to its former 20th century glory and is set in tranquil grounds, giving an insight into the privileged but enlightened colonial lifestyle of Stewart Gore Brown. The nearby Kapishya Hot Springs is a beautiful scenic area where you can enjoy relaxing in the thermally heated pools alongside the river where gentle rapids flow.