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A Perfect Day Photographing Big Cats …

Dawie Reports from Djuma in the Sabi Sand Reserve (Djuma Photo Safari):

Having seen so many leopards and had so many wonderful opportunities for photography, we thought it would be amazing to start the day with the lions. We searched for them and found female tracks accompanied by cute cub prints. Our search for lions yielded nothing other than their paw prints and when we received a call about a leopard we changed direction.

We found a female leopard as she crossed a boundary into Djuma territory. She was very busy indeed, and we followed her for almost two hours as she went about her morning business. She scent-marked, sniffed around, examined the area thoroughly, and then started to hunt. She searched everywhere for something to eat and jumped onto different vantage points like fallen trees or large termite mounds.

Then she climbed a Marula Tree where she rested and slept for a short while. After her rest she jumped down from the tree and we left her eventually when she disappeared into thick bush.

We made our way back to the Lodge slowly. We saw plenty of elephants on the way. There were also numerous Plains animals around and giraffe were spotted regularly.

Back at the Lodge we enjoyed Lightroom training and a brief rest before it was time to leave again for our afternoon game drive.

Our afternoon started with a search for lions again and we hadn’t gone far before we heard that a large pride had been spotted. They were not far from the main gate to the reserve and we immediately made our way there. The lions were completely flat, enjoying the typical daytime siesta that lions enjoy.

We carried on and before long we found very fresh lion tracks. To our delight the tracks led us directly to a lioness resting on top of a termite mound. She was beautiful and we were able to use our wide-angle lenses. It was fairly cloudy and our images turned out really well in the soft light.

We stopped for sundowners and as we enjoyed our G&Ts and other choices, the lioness started to contact call. Again and again her roars echoed across the veld. We realised that she is a member of the pride we saw earlier, and surmised that they would all try to meet up. With this idea in mind we quickly returned to the pride we saw earlier – and sure enough, they were on the move. It was getting dark and we took out our spotlights. We followed them closely and when they stopped for a drink at a waterhole our well-lit low angle shots were exactly what one could wish for.

We followed them a little further before it was time to return to the Lodge.

And this morning our final game drive took us back in the direction of the lions. On the way we found a herd of about eighty buffalo – this completed our Big Five 5 sightings for this safari.

We could not find any fresh signs of the lions, but we stopped frequently for other game. Back at the Lodge we had a latish breakfast and then dispersed to return home. Everyone vowed to return as soon as possible …

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