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A Leopard Territorial Dispute …

Dawie’s News from Elephant Plains on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Tour:

We really wanted to find the female leopard with her two cubs when we started our early morning. But on the way to where she had been another vehicle alerted us with news that they had found very fresh leopard tracks that looked very promising.

Not long after we caught up with the tracks we found two female leopards together. What an exciting, rather scary sighting! The cats were engaged in a territorial dispute and the growls, snarls, hisses, and excess salivating looked very intimidating. Our pulses raced as we watched them. The standoff continued with bared fangs and two very angry cats. We thought that a fight might ensue, but the slightly older leopard (the mother of the single cub) was intent on asserting her dominance to pressurise the second cat to leave the territory, and the younger one wisely left.

As the submissive leopard left the scene, the victorious, more dominant female was hot on her heels. They walked along, one behind the other, down a road, through the bush, through a river, never losing sight of one another. We followed, cameras capturing every moment. Finally they arrived at a spot that must have been the border of their two territories because the dominant female stopped, and watched intently to ensure that the intruder return.

Whew! That took our whole morning and we returned to the Lodge, still agog at the confrontation we had seen. And while they had walked along, both leopards glanced at us from time to time, giving us multiple shots!

We started the afternoon with a follow up on the mother leopard again. On the way we found her cub perched on the limb of a tree trunk. As the mother was away the little one immediately dashed to hide in a hole in the river bank.

We went in search of the second leopard and on the way we received another call, but that leopard gave us the slip. As we turned back we had two separate rhino sightings, and although the grass is quite long, visibility was good.

We finally found the second leopard sleeping way up in a Marula Tree while on the ground we spotted the remains of an impala kill. We remained with her through the evening until night arrived. Just then some hyenas arrived and within seconds they disappeared with the kill.

Shortly after the leopard jumped down from the tree and disappeared into the darkness, signalling time for us to return to the Lodge.

Whew … after these spectacular days, we are really looking forward to the morning and hopefully even more cat sightings …

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