Andrew Reports from Elephant Plains:
Tingana – and Salayexe’s Kill
We started the morning where we left Salayexe last evening, and found her tracks which we followed northward, to the east, and back south again. When the tracks disappeared into a block of bush, we stopped, and just then impalas alarm called.
Realising that something may be up we excitedly followed the direction of the sound and within seconds we found Salayexe with a kill from moments before. We had missed the action by a heartbeat.
Salayexe dragged her kill through a drainage line, across a river, to the base of a thick gardenia tree – a tree that is perfect for a leopard to stash a kill, but not for photography. Luckily for us, she made no attempt to hoist the kill into the tree. Not a good idea for her, though …
Not five minutes later Tingana appeared. He is a strapping, healthy specimen of leopard dominance, and he made his way straight to the kill. Salayexe saw his approach and slunk away quickly, but not too far away.
So now Tingana was master of the kill, and he immediately tucked in! Salayexe watched his every move and every bite from about 40 meters distance.
We photographed both animals until it was time to return to the Lodge.
This afternoon we headed straight back to the kill, where we found Tingana guarding the carcass, which he had stashed in the tree, leaving entrails on the ground. Salayexe watched from where she had retreated to this morning, and it looked as though she had neither moved nor taken her eyes off Tingana and her kill for the entire time.
Then the moment arrived that she had waited for so patiently. Tingana walked away. Within seconds Salayexe was at the base of the tree, gobbling the entrails – but Tingana heard her, and came straight back.
What now, we wondered?
Salayexe ran away with Tingana after her.
He made no attempt to actually catch her. He simply followed her until he was satisfied that she was far enough away before he returned to the kill.
The time came for us to move on and give another vehicle a chance to see the leopard(s). But there was plenty still in store for us … as we started to drive away he heard that another leopard, Moya’s eighteen month old cub had been spotted.
Passing buffalo, zebras, impala, and other game, we caught up with the restless youngster. And wow, he was certainly on the go. Up a termite mound, through bushes, onto a fallen log, searching all the while. We followed him, but he was so active that photography was quite a challenge.
It was dark when we returned to the kill again – and found Salayexe right there again – and so was Tingana. But now he ignored her. He didn’t even glance in her direction when she moved. Out came the spotlights, and we all captured images of both leopards.