(Images from back of Ben’s Camera)
We set out in the early morning darkness, searching for any sign of predators. We drove directly to Big Dam to go in search of lions, but instead we found the female leopard named Ingrid. She is a super-cute young animal and is always very, very busy and full of mischief. This morning she was no different as she ran energetically through the grass, bounded up onto fallen logs, and seemed to delight in posing on any raised surface like a fallen tree, log, or termite mound.
We remained with the delightful cat for almost the entire morning, enjoying and photographing her boisterous antics. Finally, she seemed to tire somewhat and went to lie down on the ground right next to our vehicle, where she promptly fell asleep.
We waited for her to wake up, and while we waited one of the photographers from our second vehicle accidentally dropped a beanbag. It fell to the ground on the same side as the dozing leopard. The soft sound woke Ingrid, and she immediately saw the beanbag. She slowly crept forward on her belly – inching slowly and carefully up to the item. Inch by inch she advanced until she was close enough to grab the beanbag. With it safely in her jaws she darted away – with us following behind as she ran. We thought that she would drop her ‘catch’, and we would be able to retrieve it. But no! She was so pleased with her acquisition that there was no way she was going to surrender it. She played with it on the ground, and then took it up into a tree where she happily played with it some more. She jumped all around in the tree with the beanbag, as we watched with great amusement. At times we just couldn’t stifle the laughter! She had a wonderful time, and when she disappeared with her prize into a thicket we realised that it was time to return to the Lodge. We were still smiling and chuckling at the leopard’s antics back at the Lodge.
This afternoon we found the young leopard in the same area where we had left her. To our amazement and amusement she still had the beanbag and was still playing with it! She chucked it around, caught it, dragged it, and seemed to have no end of fun with this strange article. We managed to get one or two images of her without the beanbag, which pleased us greatly.
Finally, after hours of fun, Ingrid lost interest in the beanbag and came to lie on a bank close to us. Just then we received a call that a pangolin had been sighted, but before leaving the leopard we actually managed to retrieve the beanbag!
We found the pangolin just as it was getting dark and quickly filled our memory cards with both daytime and nighttime images.
And as if that were not enough, Salayexe was very close to the pangolin so we spent our time alternating between the two.
What a day! That really was yet another special and very memorable day here, and we are all in very high spirits. Tomorrow we will probably try to catch up with Ingrid, that cutest of little leopards …