While searching for leopard tracks yesterday afternoon we were informed that Thandi, a female leopard was in the eastern part of the reserve, so we headed that way.
We stopped on the way to photograph giraffe and then elephants, and a grizzly old buffalo bull with gnarled horns and plenty of character. This meant that by the time we reached the area, Thandi had wandered away.
A lone young hyena was chewing vigorously on something or other. We photographed him for ages as his antics kept us completely absorbed. He chewed the remnants of whatever it was, then would glare at it, and attack again and again with renewed vigour – as if it would leap up and escape! The sun was starting to set when we heard another hyena calling, and a dialogue started … the two hyenas called again and again until the caller arrived. The amazing greeting, leaping around, and joy as the two met up was truly heartwarming.
Late afternoon photography turned into spotlight photography as the sun set, and darkness enveloped the land.
As we turned toward the Lodge we could hear a male and female leopard calling and decided to follow the sounds.
Before long we found Shadow, the mother of two young cubs. She was looking very distressed and extremely skittish … and then we sadly discovered the reason …
The male leopard had snatched her cub, and was carrying its lifeless body away. He was not the father of the cubs and would see the youngsters as potential threats to be removed.
We were heartbroken and quickly scanned around to see if we could spot the other cub, but there was no sign of the little one.
We returned to the Lodge hoping that the second cub is somewhere safe.
This morning we set out in the dark again to try and find Shadow as early as possible. On the way we had a brief stop for hyenas on the airstrip, but because we were keen to get to shadow our stop was short.
When we found Shadow she was still very stressed, pacing around … and very skittish and nervous when she spied us. However, as we sat quietly, she calmed down and we were able to follow her as she walked around, and rested from time to time.
We searched for the male leopard tracks but there was no evidence of new tracks.
Finally, as the sun warmed the area, Shadow settled under a bush and seemed to go to sleep. We have no idea where the second cub is at the moment – and are still hoping that it is tucked away somewhere really safe.
On the way back to the Lodge we stopped again for buffalo, elephants,
…, giraffe, kudu – and a large herd of wildebeest in an open plain.
This afternoon we plan to focus on Shadow again …