Brendon from Okavango Machaba: An Elderly Leopard Surprises Us …
A crisp, early sunrise found us out and heading towards the airstrip on our way to find the Wild Dogs from last night. Wouldn’t it be great, we said, if only the dogs were around here, close by, and in the short grass around the airstrip. And lo and behold, as we neared the airstrip, what should we find but the dogs, all lying out in the open, short grass, and warming up in the early sun-rays.
We spent ages with the dogs, with that lovely sky behind them, and a wonderful golden light casting that special glow over everything – including the dogs.
The dogs were still very fat, very full from their large meal last night, and showed little inclination to move at all, other than the occasional change of position.
That is, with the exception of one young fellow. He clearly wanted to be up and at it, and repeatedly trotted quite a distance from the pack. Each time he stopped, listened, looked back at the pack encouragingly, but they didn’t even look up to see him go. And each time he would venture about a 1/2 kilometre away before returning to stare at the others, willing them to move, before he set off again.
After several failed attempts he finally gave up, and joined his pack as they soaked up the warm African sun.
We drove on, and as always enjoyed all the general game, including large herds of Zebras, Lechwe, and spectacular birds. Kingfishers fished in the river while hippos lazed on the banks or popped up now and then in the water. Elephants strolled down to the river banks for a drink … all as idyllic as it sounds here!
We decided to try a different area, hoping to see lions there. We didn’t even get as far as searching for lion tracks. Instead, we bumped into a fairly elderly female leopard out on a mission. She is in tip-top condition, and what was great for us was that she ignored our vehicles as though we didn’t exist. She had clear evidence of recent suckling, so she must have small cubs … somewhere? But only she knows where!
The next two hours were spent with her as she went purposefully along, across open areas, through bushes, checking the area constantly. She was hunting. Then she started to stalk a herd of Impala, and when they scattered she soon found another – also an unsuccessful attempt.
Eventually we had to leave and return to the Camp for lunch … and this afternoon we returned to the same area, but this time there was no sign of her. Not surprising as she had really been on a mission this morning.
The Wild Dogs were exactly as we had left them this morning, but about five minutes after our arrival, they decided to get up. An effusive greeting ceremony followed, with excited sounds and noises. It was so special to observe and to hear.
Suddenly they started to move. They ran along, stopped to listen intently, ran further, listened again before running and listening again. They continued this pattern until the sun began to set, when they decided that that was enough for today, and went to lie down again.
We had sundowners against a magnificent, vivid backdrop of the setting sun – a suitable ending to another superb day.
Tomorrow we hope that the dogs will be ready to start hunting again …