A Day with Leopards …

Ben’s News from Elephant Plains on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Tour:
NB – All Photos from back of Jackie Badenhorst’s Camera)

In the early morning we went straight to the female leopard with her Nyala up in a tree. We found her walking around and tried to keep up with her as she traversed the terrain. She moved through bushy areas and because she was on a mission and therefore moved swiftly, and because she tended to stick to areas with thick foliage, photography was a challenge at times. We tried to pull ahead of her and wait for her to catch up, walking directly towards our vehicle, but her speed meant that we could only snatch images here and there. Actually, we realise that we have become quite picky and that many would love the opportunity to spend the time with the leopard as we did, and to capture the shots that we managed to grab until we finally lost her in a gully.

Our first stop on the afternoon drive was to photograph a herd of elephants drinking at a small dam. The reflections looked quite lovely and most of our guests were able to get beautiful photos with very clear mirror images. While we were there we heard that the female leopard had been located again.

The afternoon sun was just perfect when we photographed the leopard. We spent some time with her as she moved through the bush, this time a slower pace. The setting and rich golden light were all ideal and more than made up for the morning when photography had been quite tricky. The leopard obliged us by climbing onto two different termite mounds to rest for a while and to look around at her surroundings. Then she walked through the typical lowveld grasslands, also perfect for our photos. The changing scenes were so beautiful that we shot many hundreds of photographs as she moved through the veld.

Eventually the leopard started to hunt, and as it was getting dark at that stage we drove away and left her in peace so that she could hunt without any interference.

We found another herd of elephants at the same dam where we had seen the previous herd. As it was almost night they left the dam and then walked right past our vehicle. It was fabulous to see the shapes as they appeared and then came almost within touching distance.

Our final sighting before we returned to the Lodge was the skittish male leopard with the Nyala that we saw yesterday. He had moved the carcass to a different tree and when he saw our vehicle approaching he climbed down from the tree and hid in the vegetation. As we didn’t want to stress him we let him be and returned to the Lodge for dinner.

We have no set plan for the morning, and would like to simply experience whatever the bush reveals to us …