Location: Chelinda Camp, Nyika National Park, Malawi
Date: 28 December 2009 - 3 January 2010
Observer: Duncan Mhango and Whyte Mhone
As always, sightings of species such as roan, eland, reedbuck and zebra, as well as others such as warthog and bushbuck, have been common and enchanting in our highland habitat. Over the new year period we did have some highlights - including several leopard sightings - that we wanted to share with our prospective and past guests on the website.
28 December: After starting our night drive in the late afternoon at 16h30, we drove towards the Juniper Forest where we observed a number of zebra grazing. There were some young zebra and when we came closer we noticed a female leopard stalking towards these youngsters on the fringe of the herd. She used clumps of vegetation along the side of the road to get into a suitable position but was soon spotted and her attempt foiled.
It wasn't our only leopard for the day. On our way back to camp, near the signpost to Chelinda Camp, we came across a large male leopard hunting young roan antelope. He also wasn't successful. Other sightings on the drive included side-striped jackal, Cape Eagle-Owl, and Rwenzori Nightjar amongst others.
30 December: We had a spectacular sighting of two spotted hyaena on our morning drive near Dam 3. The two energetically chased after each other as if playing. The other predator of the drive was a side-striped jackal while a bushpig was an exciting unusual sighting for us.
2 January: Near the airstrip we were enthralled to have a prolonged long distance sighting of a serval as it moved through the montane grassland and heather. This spotted cat is not often seen well during the day. Side-striped jackal, zebra, eland and common duiker were other sightings for the short morning drive.
3 January: Our first morning walk of the new year started at 08h00 when we took a shortcut through the pine forest behind camp up the slope and through to Chelinda Lodge. We observed dung beetles collecting some roan droppings for storage. A few metres on we passed close to two zebra and had an excellent view. Overhead we saw a male Pallid Harrier and the guests were very excited since it was the first time they had seen one. On reaching the third ridge south-east of the lodge we headed back along the Chelinda Stream where we enjoyed the beauty of a range of orchids and other flowers (Satyrium classicaule, Eulophia odontoglossa, Eulophia zeyhel and Commelina africana). As we reached camp we saw zebra joining a herd of eland.
3 January: On the final part of the night drive this evening, when driving out of the pine plantation, we had an excellent sighting of a male leopard at a distance of only about 10 metres. He was on a firebreak and we were able to spend 30 minutes watching him.