The lions to the south of the reserve were still vocalising this morning luring us to that area in an effort to find them when we arrived at the border we realised that the lions were still out of the reserve.
While checking for tracks we heard a leopard calling again and again … back in the direction we had just come from and as we rushed back following the sound we found ourselves almost back at the Elephant Plains Lodge.
We found tracks and followed these until high up in a large Marula tree we found an Impala kill.
As we peered around we spotted Anderson Male, a large but still quite young leopard. He was extremely skittish at first and immediately slipped into the long grass. We sat very quietly, waiting for him to calm down. Our patience was rewarded as he emerged, still a little uneasy, and climbed onto a termite mound from where he checked his surroundings and kept an eye on us. Satisfied that we posed no threat he settled down and we were able to capture some great photographs of him. We even used fill-in flash, which he completely ignored.
We left the leopard for a while and again found numerous herds of elephants and plenty of general game.
This afternoon we headed straight back to the kill and a much more relaxed Johnson Male. This time he took no notice of our presence, giving us marvellous photographic opportunities.
While taking photographs of Johnson Male we heard another leopard calling – very close by. We were in the bush on one side of the airstrip and the caller was close to the opposite side. We followed the calling and found Tingana. He was just finishing off a kill, and we wondered whether this was his own kill or whether he had stolen it. Either way he ate enthusiastically and when finished, started to walk around.
We realised that he was hunting and when he spotted a herd of impala and started to sneak up to them we left him so as not to disturb him and spoil his chances of success.
By now it was dark and we returned to Johnson Male, hoping that he would decide to climb the Marula tree to his kill. However, he remained on the ground while we used our spotlights to photograph the now completely relaxed young leopard.
Back at the Lodge we are debating the proximity of the two large male leopards. Tingana and Johnson Male were barely 200 meters from each other this afternoon, each seemingly oblivious of the others presence but when they do become aware of each other’s presence there is bound to be a confrontation.
Meanwhile we intend to start the morning back at the kill in the tree …