An Amorous Leopard vs Hyenas …

Dawie Shares from Elephant Plains on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Safari:

What a special day we experienced today!

It all started when we left the Lodge early in the morning and headed straight to the male leopard with the kill that we saw previously. When we arrived we found not one, but two leopards. A female leopard had arrived and we watched to see what would happen. We wondered if the male originally stole the kill from her, and that she was keen to get it back. But whatever the reason, the female was very flirtatious, and she tried repeatedly to get the rather reluctant male to mate with her.

We spent quite a long time with the two. And not only were there the amorous advances to watch, the hyenas still lurked around and kept trying to approach. Each time the hyenas came a little closer they were met with vicious sounding snarls, bared teeth, ferocious growls – two very angry leopards!

Wondering what happened to the kill on the ground where we saw the mother leopard feeding with her two cubs, we headed to the area we had last seen them. We arrived at the spot and after checking around we spotted the kill up in a tree. When we arrived we noticed hyenas on the scene, and one of the cubs dashed into some thick bush for safety while the second cub, accompanied by his mother, leaped into the tree with the kill. Mother and cub immediately started to feed on the carcass.

On the way to the leopard with her cubs we stopped to photograph elephants. They had small babies with them and as always it was a joy to watch them.

We made our way back to the Lodge and almost reached our destination when we received a call. A leopard was in the riverbed right in front of the Lodge. He headed there and to our amazement – and delight – we found the mother leopard with the single cub. They were way up in a Jackalberry tree, but after a short while they descended from the tree and walked close to us, side by side in the sandy riverbed.

After lunch and a flash workshop we headed out for our afternoon game drive. Having already seen seven leopards during the morning drive, we were content to experience anything at all that the bush would reveal.

We started by trying to track the mother leopard with her cub, and we found her quite a distance from where we left her. They were walking to the south of the Lodge and at first we only saw the mother and her prints. There were no cub tracks. But suddenly the cub popped out and the two crossed over to the road where they played, and kept us entertained for ages.

We thought that it would be a good idea to check on the amorous leopard with the male from the morning, and when we reached them they were both fast asleep. Just as we decided to move on the two leopards got up and moved to a nearby mud wallow.

We pulled closer to them and saw them having a face-off with the hyenas again, followed by a drink at the mud wallow. As darkness settled in we used our flashes and spotlights to capture nighttime shots.

A visit to the pride of lions came next. Once again other vehicles from neighbouring lodges helped us with lighting and we not only captured those iconic rim-lit and side-lit shots, the lions also decided to climb a Jackalberry tree! That was really fabulous to witness.

On the way back to the Lodge we stopped for a few moments and switched off our engines to enjoy the nighttime sounds, and to watch as a bank of thunderous clouds rolled in.

There should be rain tonight with that thunderstorm building up so dramatically, and in the morning we expect a very different, wet world around us …