Villiers Shares News from Elephant Plains:
Kwatile Calls her Cub into View
Thankfully it was really cool this morning – so very welcome after the blistering heat of the past days. In fact, we all set out wearing jackets!
How he did it we don’t know, but as we drove along, searching the ground for leopard tracks, our tracker saw something high up over his left shoulder. We stopped. What had he seen? After a while we spotted it – a large leopard way, way up in a Marula tree.
As we drew closer the leopard came down from the tree and we recognised Salayexe. And being Salayexe, I am sure that she came down to show off for us as she always does.
We followed her for the entire morning as she gradually made her way down to the river. She was such a willing model, posing this way, then that. She walked between our vehicles, and seemed to ensure that we each had a good view. She sat down, groomed herself, walked again, climbed a log, and finally reached the river.
At the river she went straight through and out the other side – onto the burnt area, where we were unable to follow. (We cannot disturb the freshly growing vegetation). But once again, Salayexe, being herself, didn’t venture far from us into the blackened area.
She remained within a few meters of the line between green and burnt bush, and with the yellowish-orange gwarrie bushes around her, she created a beautiful picture!
After filling our memory cards exclusively with images of the beautiful, cooperative leopard, we returned to the Lodge, well pleased with the morning activities.
The sun came out this afternoon, making the world a little warmer as we set out. Almost immediately we found a couple of buffalo wallowing in some muddy water, and a little further on we encountered a herd of elephants.
That was when we heard of a leopard with a fresh kill and we headed directly there. It was Kwatile, another female, and she was feeding on a small bushbuck. She looked wonderful in the golden afternoon light as she devoured her kill.
We were able to park right next to the feeding leopard for some really closeup shots. Then she started to call. Again and again she called … and again. No response! Was she calling her cub? We looked around anxiously. Again she called. Again nothing, as we peered and peered all around. Another call –
Suddenly there it was – the cub arrived to join its mother. The fabulous greeting, rubbing faces as the two met, before they settled down to eat together. And all the time the nonstop click click click as our cameras captured every second of their interaction. It was beyond words! Mom and her eight month old cub feeding and interacting within a couple of meters of where we sat. Awesome is the word!
We eventually tore ourselves away from the two when we had to back to the Lodge.
But we had one more treat in store for us. A Large Spotted Genet right next to the road allowed us to take photographs for as long as we wished. Unbelievable!
After two such fabulous days, let tomorrow bring what it may …