Ben’s Daily Update from Elephant Plains …
(Images from the back of Ben’s Brendon’s Cameras)
This has been a trip with so many leopard sightings – so far, in the three days we have been here, we have had thirteen separate sightings! It has been incredible! That is in just the seven game drives we have experienced until now.
And yes, we had another fabulous day today.
This morning was overcast and very dull as we headed straight to where we left Salayexe with her kudu kill last night. She was way up in a tree so, because of the dull circumstances, we exposed correctly for the grey background and then used flash for the foreground. We waited for Salayexe to descend from her lofty perch … and finally, after some time, she obliged, allowing cameras to capture the action.
Meanwhile, our second vehicle went in search of lions and found them lying very flat and disinclined to move. While searching for the lions we discovered two different couples of White Rhinos.
We spotted another leopard, but she was quite shy, and quite quickly disappeared into the undergrowth. But then we heard of yet another leopard and we quickly drove over to find her in a tree in an open area. We photographed her for about thirty minutes before she came down from the tree and started to hunt.
She spotted some warthogs and started to stalk them. We followed far enough behind to not have any impact on her endeavours, but close enough to see all the action. We kept very quiet and we crept ahead, hardly daring to breathe, and with excitement mounting with each passing moment.
Closer, closer, closer … and suddenly she sprang forward and grabbed one of the warthog youngsters as they entered a gully. The mother warthog turned with fury and within a split second the little one was freed from the leopard’s jaws and the little family fled into the distance. The leopard settled down to groom herself before she settled down.
Back at the Lodge we enjoyed a very hearty brunch, followed by Photographic and Lightroom lectures.
This afternoon we planned to visit Salayexe at sunset, and to search for other animals until then. We photographed a number of birds, including a Black-chested Snake Eagle, Rollers, and then three Dagga Boys (buffaloes) looking very comical as they squished up together in one tiny waterhole … more a puddle than a waterhole, actually. Their huge bulks packed tightly into that minute drop of water looked quite ludicrous, like too many guys in a tub at a bachelor’s party.
We went to Salayexe and found her sleeping on a branch opposite the kill.
We positioned our vehicle to photograph her descent down that branch plus the ascent up the branch to the kill. Some captures silhouette shots as she descended and then quickly popped our flashes on to capture the ascent. There was a deep lilac colour to the sky this evening, which looked quite spectacular behind the leopard.
She fed for about twenty minutes while we used a variety of techniques to capture different types of images. Just as we were about to leave to return to the Lodge, Salayexe came down from the tree. We photographed her as she settled on a low branch and groomed while looking down at the hyenas below as they milled around, gazing up hopefully and clearly just waiting for scraps or the whole carcass to fall to the ground for them.
Finally we could not remain out any longer and had to return to the Lodge for dinner, vowing to return to Salayexe in the morning to catch up with her and the hyenas …