Elephant Plains Safari: Lion, Cheetah, Leopard!
Ben Cranke Reports:
(All images from Back of Ben Cranke Camera – a new D500 Nikon, using the highlight exposure mode)
Another cold, overcast, windy, rainy morning saw us start with warm clothes and blankets. We were on the lookout for leopards, but although they remained elusive this morning, we found lions lounging around at one of the dams. They were not particularly active, but we stopped for some pleasing portrait shots.
As luck would have it a large Kudu bull arrived for a drink at the dam, and this certainly sparked some interest, causing the situation to change from mundane to exciting in the blink of an eye. The lions started to stalk the kudu. They adopted their typical hunting posture, and excitement took over. Our cameras captured the drama – which also ended as abruptly as it had begun when the Kudu spotted the predators and fled. But it was terrific while it lasted!
As we started to search for any sign of a leopard again we received a message that a cheetah had been spotted quite a distance away – about 15 to 20 minutes, and we decided to head that way directly.
We found a beautiful male cheetah moving through the bush. He then intermittently lay down, stood up, lay down again, and restlessly changed position frequently. Then he groomed for a while before moving around yet again. This gave us multiple opportunities to gather some fabulous shots – mostly portraits – and each of us managed to do exactly that!
We returned to the Lodge for lunch and set out on our afternoon drive, more determined than ever to find another cat, preferably a leopard.
Finally we came upon Salayexe! We remained with her for ages. She was moving quite quickly through the bush and riverbeds. She was out hunting and we followed. As always she was unconcerned by our presence, and sauntered right past our vehicle a few times. We kept up with her for about 45 minutes until she eventually disappeared into thick riverine undergrowth. But we had all managed some super and interesting photographs of her.
We hope to see the leopard again in the morning …