Another fabulous day!
As we left this morning we very quickly came across a female leopard that had made a kill not long before we found her. She was beset by hyenas and tried valiantly to defend the remains from the ongoing, uninterrupted approaches from the scavengers. The tussle continued with the leopard trying to protect her impala from all sides. We watched, cameras busily capturing every tense, exciting moment of the interaction. But the battle was very one-sided with the lone leopard being totally outnumbered. She eventually had to give up, and retreated to watch the hyenas with her kill on the ground from a nearby low tree branch.
Then to our amazement we noticed a small leopard cub aged about four months peeking from the foliage of a neighbouring Leadwood Tree. Mother and cub watched the hyenas squabbling over what should have been their meal. There was plenty of action for the cats to watch as the hyenas yipped, scrapped, snarled, growled, and occasionally chased one another when a tasty morsel was grabbed.
The mother then decided that enough was enough! She started to approach the hyenas, but as soon as they saw her they forgot their meal and chased her – back into a different tree.
And then, much to our surprise, the hyenas gave up and started to shuffle away – away from the kill, away from the scene!
The female returned to the tree where her cub still sat on a branch. She settled close to him, while the half eaten carcass remained on the ground under the tree.
We remained with the leopards for the entire day. It turned out to be one of the best ever days one could wish for with a mother leopard and her cub. They played, moved from branch to branch, to neighbouring trees and fallen logs, and onto tree stumps. They posed and interacted for most of the day, giving us every opportunity imaginable to photograph them with different techniques, actions, portraits – you name it, we captured them all. We filled our cameras with phenomenal images. The cub then became very interested in our vehicle, and played around and under the strange object. It stalked the tyres, hid under the bumpers, peeped out to locate mom and then crept up on her, while she pretended not to notice. Every moment brought something new and precious!
We remained with the two until evening when they walked about a kilometre to a pan where they stopped for a long, relaxed drink together. They were very comfortable with our presence and were right next to the vehicle all the time.
As the sun set and we would need spotlights to continue photographing the two, we rather called it a day. We did not want to risk using lights on such a young cub, and elected to return to the camp, more than ecstatic with another incredible day.
We are ready for whatever tomorrow brings …