Location: Chelinda Lodge, Nyika Plateau, Malawi
Date: 10 October 2010
Observer: Sam Chiwayu
I have seen thousands of elephants in my career but today's sighting was the best so far. They were my first sightings of these gentle giants on the Nyika Plateau. I always knew they were in the area - I have often seen tracks, droppings and other signs - but I finally saw a herd today while having a drink on game drive at Sangule Kopje to the south-west of the camp.
There were 12 individuals in herd with at least three adult cows. They were feeding well below us so we walked cautiously down the hill for a better view but the elephants soon disappeared noiselessly. A few moments later I spotted two individuals feeding in the reeds below. As I was pointing them out to the guests, the rest of the herd appeared further up the slope. They ran down towards their companions in the reeds.
This spectacular sighting was the guests' first in the wild and it left us all chattering excitedly to each other.
The night before the appearance of the elephants, we saw a leopard with two cubs. Initially we spotted one cub in the road. She disappeared into the bush when we approached her so we investigated the bracken where she had hidden and eventually spotted the little cat and her sibling - two leopard cubs! They were both quickly enveloped by the vegetation so we drove further on down the road hoping to catch another glimpse. About 400 metres later, we turned around and there, on the road behind us were the two cubs and their mother. We had a wonderful view of them for some time before they eventually headed off the road and into the undergrowth.
Another leopard highlight was a sighting on a walk the other day. The spotted cat froze when he saw us. He crouched down and then melted into the bush.