11-Year-Old Client Nikhil Visits the Sabi Sands Game Reserve

Nikhil Malik

23 Nov 2018

The young NWS client spots predators aplenty on this south African safari

Our trip to South Africa all started with the drive to the airport. Although it was slightly sad to leave my brother and dog behind, I knew I wouldn't miss them for long. First we flew into Johannesburg, and from there we had a 10-minute drive to a smaller airport, where we were scheduled to take a smaller plane to Londolozi, the game reserve where we were staying. Londolozi is part of the wider Sabi Sands Game Reserve, which borders Kruger National Park. Unfortunately, we had to wait for three hours until our long flight in a small plane.

When we reached Londolozi, we had very little time before our first game drive in the bush. I had a good feeling about this one. We were driving in the jeep when our ranger Jess told our tracker, whose name was Advice, to get into the jeep. My mum turned around and looked at me. We both knew that there was a leopard nearby. When we arrived at the spot, we saw a male leopard known as the Flat Rock male. He was a lot like my dog and he stuck to his name, “Flat” – all he did was sleep.

The next day we had the most incredible lion sighting I have ever had. Advice had spotted a lioness, and as usual, we followed it until she led us right to the den with her cubs. After we left the cubs and the lioness, we talked about how nice it would be to finish off the drive with a leopard sighting. Sure enough, we heard that the Ndzanzemi young male had been spotted in this area by another jeep. Jess was telling us to keep an eye out and said, “It’s in there somewhere”. We had to leave this leopard again after a very brief sighting.

After a long break, it was time for our afternoon drive. It was one of those drives where you think you're not going to see anything, but then we saw something quite rare. A leopard cub was playing with a dead vervet monkey, like it was a cuddly toy. After we had spent some time at the sighting, we headed to a place in the bush for a “bush” dinner. On our last drive at Londolozi we yet again saw another leopard, the Inyati male.

We got back to the lodge and packed. Unfortunately, it was time to say our goodbyes. It was quite sad to leave everyone at Londolozi but it was time to go to Singita Boulders.

After settling in and eating, it was time for our first game drive at Singita. Personally, none of us had seen wild dog before, so we set out to see if we could find the Investec pack.

As we were driving to where they were last seen, our tracker Chene got a call that they had spotted the pack at a waterhole nearby. We drove to them just as they had started a hunt, which ended in failure. Fortunately for the pack, one of the adults in the pack had hunted a female impala and caught it. To prove it to the pack, he bought the foetus of the impala and gave it to the puppies, then led the rest of the adults to the impala. After we left the dogs, we stopped for some beverages and headed home.

Again, we woke up at 5am ready to set off on the morning round. This morning we set out to see some more leopard. Almost immediately after we got in the jeep, we got a call saying that the young Hlabankuzi male was eating an impala. He had killed her while she was in the middle of giving birth, which was very sad.

Unfortunately, we had to leave the sighting after an hour to make space for the other jeeps. As we started to drive away, my dad spotted the Kokovela female who was scouting for potential den sites for her cubs. Unfortunately for us, she crossed over to MalaMala, beyond the Singita border, where we were not allowed to drive.

That sighting brought our morning ride to an end, so again, we rested until our afternoon ride. On this ride, we went to the south of the park to look for a male cheetah, but unfortunately, we could not find him. On the way back, we saw the young Hlabankuzi male leopard in the dark.

When we got back to the lodge, we ate dinner and went to sleep. Next morning, it was time again for a ride into the bush. This was one of those rides where the leopard just didn't want to be seen. So instead we went to see a lion pride with six cubs. Eventually we found them.

When the time came for the evening round, we all had leopards on our minds. We spent about three hours looking for leopard and eventually got a call that they had spotted the young Hlabankuzi male and his mother in a tree with a duiker kill, with hyenas waiting below the tree. After this amazing sighting, which lasted for over an hour, it was time to head back to camp for our last dinner.

For the last time, we got up for the morning ride and this time we saw the young Hlabankuzi male. This time, his older sister – the Scotia female – had walked past with her cubs, and the adults were snarling at each other. We tried to prolong the inevitable, but sooner or later we had to go back to the lodge to leave, and finish another fantastic African safari.

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Comments

Ritu Shastri

30/11/2018 10:22 AM

What a memorable trip you have had Nikhil! Thoroughly enjoyed your article; made me feel I was right there with you. Well done, so proud of you. Lots of love, Aunty Ritu

C H Giriram

30/11/2018 3:10 AM

Namastey, little master MR. Nikhil Malik , I love your all photos, and you takeing the great time close by evening short was amazing, and big thanks for you showed your beautiful shorts from your eyes with your camera. Thank you so much . Mr . Nikhil gee.... 🙏 om guruve namha 🙏

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