I'm getting a bit bored in the off season and remembering where I was a year ago. I do not think I ever posted this report here -- if I did you will have to forgive me. This is what I did on my summer vacation last year. I posted this one another board so it was targeted at those members. I did update/adjust a couple of the pictures. All but one of the pictures are linked to larger versions -- just click them if you want a bigger picture.
(I had to break this into three parts as I got error messages of too many images - this is part 1).
I hunted June 1-14 in Namibia with Classic Safaris
. I booked though Wendell Reich (Hunters' Quest International
). Kathi Klimes of Wild Travel arranged my flights.
I hunted on Classic Safaris' Ehi-rovipuka Conservancy (Kaokaland), which is 80 kilometers north of Kamanjab in Namibia. The concession is 6 plus hours from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, depending on your method of travel and whether you are going from the airport which is south of the capital or from Windhoek itself. The concession is between 400,000 and 500,000 acres in size and is bounded by the veterinary quarantine fence, a photographic concession, and Etosha Park, among other properties. Part of the concession borders another Classic Safaris concession and a portion of the adjoining properties are not in a conservancy. The climate is dry and the temperature during my hunt varied from cool nights (estimated 40s) to warm days (estimated 70s-80s). The terrain in the concession is quite varied, with open savannah, savannah with Mopane brush, dry riverbeds, and riverine areas with thicker Mopane cover. There are also rolling hills, narrow canyons, and steeper hills.
The camp is a traditional tented camp located under some large shade trees on the banks of the dry riverbed. The level camp area is adjacent to one of the many hills in the concession. The tents are roomy and are equipped with real beds, storage for your clothes, and a small table next to the bed. In back of the tent is a partitioned area on a cement slab with shower, sink and commode. Hot water is available for showers. There is a dining tent with mosquito netting and a separate kitchen tent with propane cooler for keeping drinks and perishables cold. There is also a seating area around the fire for gathering at night (or any time).
Inside the Tent:
When I was in camp there was a staff of five (two trackers, a cook, and two women who did the laundry and cleaning). Matthew and Elias, the trackers, were good at spotting and tracking game, the cook did a good job, and the laundry service was good as well. My professional hunter was Gert van der Walt, who is new with Classic Safaris this year. Gert has been hunting in Namibia for years, concentrating on Leopards for about the last five if I remember correctly. Gert is hard working and was very accommodating.
Gert, Elias and Matthew:
I booked Classic Safaris 14-day Leopard package. The package allows you to take plainsgame at the specified trophy fees and provides a refund if you do not take a leopard. I elected the optional pre-baiting and there were several cats on bait before I arrived. Unfortunately, by the time I made it to camp the cats had stopped hitting the baits. We did sit in a blind the first two nights near a Zebra that had apparently died from the bullet of a local hunter who did not find it. Tracks indicated some smaller leopards were feeding there, and a larger one was moving through the area. However, jackals and vultures were the only ones interested in it when we were there.
Can you see the blind?
For the first six days of my hunt the leopards were quiet. We spent the time looking for fresh tracks, checking out likely areas, and setting fresh baits. The sixth night I dreamed that a leopard had taken the bait. The next day we had signs of activity at three baits in one area. One large male had fed heavily, a smaller cat had eaten a little at a second bait, and a third cat, another large male, had sat in the river looking at the third bait in the area. The first cat had actually walked right down the center of the drag we made through the sand up to the bait before feeding. We took down the bait that the smaller leopard hit to reduce confusion since the baits were fairly close together. He went back to the tree several times to see if the bait was back. If I had been looking for just any cat we probably could have taken him, as he did not seem experienced.
We sat in blinds waiting for one or the other of the two larger cats for several nights. However, neither showed during daylight, although the cats continued to hit the baits. We also sat one night at the carcass of a gemsbok cow that was being fed on by a leopard, and stalked in the next morning to see if he was still around. However, he had left the area.
Despite spending nine nights in a blind we did not get a shot opportunity on a leopard. There was not much competition for the bigger males so they did not have to move in the daylight. Perhaps if the lions had been more active things would have been different. We did see lots of tracks and had as many as four leopards on bait at one time. I did see one leopard, the one feeding on the Gemsbok cow. We had seen the carcass earlier but the grass was too thick to see tracks, so we could not tell what was feeding there. We went back to check and a leopard ran out from under a bush where he had been guarding the meat. We did not get a shot opportunity and he did not return. I have no doubt that there are good cats in the concession. I was just not lucky enough to connect with one.