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I thought I saw a pussy cat!


Well actually...Tom didn't think he saw, he positively saw.... a leopard. Yep, a spotted yellow and black job, lounging on a rock, casually looking back at Tom. It didn't stick around though and eventually skulked off to find a more remote and peaceful spot to lie in where no rogue humans (and dogs) were going to disturb it.

One of our watchmen had actually told us a few months ago that he had seen a very large tiger walk into the property... we asked whether he might mean a "kambuku" (chichewa word for leopard I believe) and he agreed, that yes, it was indeed a kambuku. We had seen droppings that we were pretty sure were leopard but there is nothing quite like seeing one in the flesh!

And a few weeks ago I came across hyena prints on our road and since then, hyena have often been heard calling at night and this for the past few weeks. Prior to this, we had heard hyena when we first moved here 6 years ago but rarely since – and now it is a regular night sound – exciting, and a bit scary – but mainly exciting :)

And to top it all off, we had a group of birders (very much twitchers) and as they were driving off one morning at some unholy time (circa 4.30am), they came across a side-striped jackal – Tom had only seen one before, I have never come across them but it is brilliant to know that they are here.

The birders also saw hyraxes which I didn’t know were here at all :)

And I am not even counting the numerous civets, genets and chequered sengis.

All this is exceedingly exciting and we feel very privileged that all these animals feel safe enough in the forest and scrubland around the lodge and the southern outer slopes of the Plateau: an amazing reward to all the hard work we have put into our conservation efforts :)

PS: Unfortunately our hounds aren't not nearly as excited about these new'ish arrivals as we are and realise now that they are not the kings of the mountain after all - there have been times recently where they will resolutely not go in a certain direction and more occasionally, have even run back to the sanctuary of the lodge grounds, only to howl and bark, presumably trying to impress on whatever creature they are scared of, that they are big and brave and not to be messed with. This barking only takes place inside the property though; it just goes to show how very brave they really are :)


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