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Inspired by the recent trail camera post, on our Chiawa & Old Mondoro Facebook wall, by repeat guests Richard & Jane Scripps.( Click here to see the post ) We have recently placed our trail camera in an area known as “Mahogany” after all of the Natal Mahogany trees in the area.

After seeing a leopard climb into the hollow in the tree a few days ago, we thought this would be a good place to start filming. We placed the camera on 3 photo bursts with 1 second between shots. We also used the “field scan” function, which takes photos on a regular basis, just in case something manages to sneak past!

We, at Old Mondoro, are using a Bushnell, “Bone Collector” Trail Camera. It is a 14 Megapixels stationary camera.

Although we have yet to find the elusive leopard that inspired the decision to use this location, we have certainly captured some wonderful shots.

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A female Bush buck (Tragelaphus sylvaticus). A very gracious antelope that is not a very common sighting here, in the Lower Zambezi, due to its shy nature.

 

 

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Two Honey Badgers (Mellivora capensis). Although normally associated with being nocturnal, they do spend a large amount of their time out in daylight hours, especially if there is honey around! Have you seen our now famous video of the gang of four Honey Badger’s that broke into the kitchen a few years ago? If you have not seen it already, or just feel like another look, check out the video here.

 

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The always dazzling zebra. In the Lower Zambezi, we have the Böhm’s zebra (Equus burchelli böhmi)

 

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A baby elephant, (Loxodonta africana),

 

 

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Four juvenile Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus), caught playing, hanging from each other. Play is an important part of learning in most animal species. Can you find all four?

These are just some of the exciting moments we have captured in the last week. There is a plethora of pictures of baboons, impala, and several other more commonly seen species going about their normal daily routines, oblivious of our cameras presence.

We will continue to update you on some of the wonderful moments we capture on the trail cameras in and around Old Mondoro.

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Credit: Shelley Tomkins

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Let’s admit it, leopards frequently rank at the top of both guest and guide favourite animals in Africa. There is a certain grace that befalls this big cat, with instincts and physiology so well defined that many believe it is only seen when it chooses. As visitors past and present will testify, we are fortunate to see a lot of leopards at Chiawa. It is not uncommon for our guests to see several different individuals during their stay with total sightings rising into double figures.

Unsurprisingly therefore, the leopard cub, when found, is probably the most photographed infant animal that we come across. The combination of woolly close-set rosettes, broad round paws and bright brown eyes are irresistible…

 

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For the first 6-10 days after just over three months in the womb, the 400-600g leopard cubs are born completely blind and are usually hidden in tree hollows, dense thickets and even termite mounds! Six weeks can pass before they venture from hiding, intermittently following their mother around her territory, honing those instinctive skills of climbing, crouching, stalking and pouncing. Weaning occurs at 3 months by which a firm appetite for meat has developed and bodyweight has soared to around 3kgs. Youngsters usually start participating in hunts after 5-6 months but mothers will still leave cubs for sustained periods; sometimes for a day or more whilst in search of food but never straying more than a couple of kilometres away. Vulnerability is without doubt increased during this time but, as leopard fathers do not participate in parenthood, someone has to be the bread (or meat) winner!

 

Leopard Cub

 

The maternal bond is kept between a mother and offspring for around two years when they split to form their own territories. Interestingly, we recently witnessed the coming together of one older adult female, her two 16 month old cubs and another adult female at a kill made by the mother. We can only assume that the younger adult was an elder offpsring and that still, after years of parting, she was still allowed to share food at the family table. Another admirable trait that makes the leopard an all the more worthy animal to spend time with.

For regular updates on all our leopards (and leopard cubs!) as well as other interesting sightings please follow us on Facebook or visit our website to sign up to our quarterly newsletters!

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