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At Last – A Successful Leopard Hunt …

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

After early coffee and rusks in the early morning, we went out in search of a leopard. While looking around for leopard tracks we saw a three Bateleur Eagles. They were positioned beautifully for photography with no distracting foliage behind them, and we happily grabbed the opportunity to fill our cameras. The birds sat quietly while we composed our shots, and did not react when a volley of clicks echoed across the veld.

We saw other birds and started to drive towards them when we came upon a beautiful young female leopard. She sat next to a water hole and ignored us as she looked around the area very intently. We realised that she was hungry and possibly looking for a meal, and yes! It wasn’t long before she started to leopard crawl. She crept stealthily across the road, belly almost touching the ground, and all attention straight ahead. We sat quietly, hardly breathing, and with pulses racing. Then we saw her quarry – a Scrub Hare. Suddenly she broke cover and dashed, but the hare disappeared into long grass and she gave up.

Whew! That was exciting!

We followed the leopard further as she continued to look around, and we finally left her when she settled on a termite mound and went to sleep.

After stopping at a herd of elephants we returned to the Lodge for a meal and then some work on our photographs.

This afternoon was very eventful. We started in a different area where we had heard reports of a lioness with small cubs. Although we found tracks, the grass is so tall in that area that visibility is very restricted and we rather returned to the area where we left the leopard earlier.

We received a call about a leopard in a tree, and we quickly went there, hoping that it was the leopard we had seen during the morning. But it was an older, also very lovely leopard. She was up in a Marula tree and we were able to get some fabulous shots before she got up, stretched, came down from the tree, and disappeared into the thick foliage.

We returned to our search for the young leopard, still with a hope that she may decide to hunt. A second vehicle spotted her and we caught up quickly. She moved along a beautiful riverbed toward a small water hole where she stopped for a drink. We photographed every step of the way.

As we followed she chased anything that she could find. She went after small animals and birds, including a Night-jar. Then she chased another Scrub Hare and amazingly, although there had been very little stealthy stalking, she managed to catch the Hare. We felt like cheering. She is very inexperienced at hunting and she grabbed the Hare very clumsily, causing the creature to create quite a din. This usually attracts scavengers like hyenas, and she was aware of this, because she dashed to the thickest bushiest area she could find and slunk in there to enjoy her very welcome meal.

We left the leopard in peace and turned towards the Lodge. On the way we found yet another female leopard. She was the mother of the young leopard with the Scrub Hare and she was walking quite rapidly to where we had just left her daughter.

In the morning we would like to follow up on all three leopards …

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