Elephant Plains Safari: One of Our Most Incredible Experiences at EP – Ever!

News of the Day from Villiers:

(All images from back of Villiers’ camera)

This morning we woke up and set out, unaware that we were about to experience the most incredible, amazing game drive ever! Ever! In fact I am going to post this blog before we leave for our afternoon drive –

We started at the hyena den which was fortunately deserted. Fortunate, that is, because we immediately headed straight to the Marokeng River area to see if we could spot Salayexe or Tiyane or both.

As we arrived at the rocks where we saw Tiyane a few days ago we found Slayexe and Tiyane lying in the sand in the golden light. The two started to play – well more rough-and-tumble that the word play suggests. Tiyane stalked Salayexe – but very comically! She came around our vehicle, and put on a show for us with wiggling bottom and all – and glanced at us from time to time as though for approval or maybe to ensure that we were keeping up with the action.

Meanwhile, Salayexe deliberately looked away, in the opposite direction, pretending not to notice Tiyane … but her ears were a giveaway – they were back and listening intently to each tiny sound. Then just as Tiyane crept closer and was about to pounce, the wily mom dashed away. (We could almost hear her laughter!)

Then when Tiyane managed to catch her mother they rolled and tumbled around as Salayexe growled ferociously and they pretended to bite each other.

3-elephant-plains-leopard-villiers-oct-201617

So even though Salayexe is showing some aggression, it was very playful and she really seemed to enjoy the antics this morning. They did this over and over and over – and again!

But that was not where the wonderful morning ended. As if this time with the leopards were not enough! We suddenly looked up … we heard Vervet Monkeys giving warning calls in the distance and wondered if they could see the leopard action from so far away. Or was it something else?

It was Anderson, the large dominant male leopard in Elephant Plains. He arrived and at first he sat on the river bank watching the two at play. Salayexe ignored him, but Tiyane started to stalk him … but after a while she came to her senses and retreated. Anderson just sat there watching the two females!

3-elephant-plains-leopard-villiers-oct-201618

Suddenly he lifted his nose, sniffed, and started to walk upstream and jumped into a beautiful large Weeping Boor-bean Tree in full flower with lovely red blooms that we had noticed yesterday when duikers were feeding on the flowers.

3-elephant-plains-leopard-villiers-oct-201619

Anyway, Anderson didn’t stay up in the tree for long and before a moment had passed he came down from the tree with a very fresh duiker kill in his mouth. Aha! The penny dropped – this must have been a kill from Salayexe and Tiyane early this morning, and that was why Anderson first staked them out so carefully before deciding that he had the time and the strength to steal the kill from them – even though it was two against one!

We followed Anderson as he dragged the kill along right next to us in perfect golden light – with both Salayexe and Tiyane following on his heels in single file behind him. The kill was so fresh that blood spilled onto his forelegs as he walked, staining them red.

3-elephant-plains-leopard-villiers-oct-201620

He took the carcass to a different tree and stashed it there, after which he sat down to keep guard while the two females sat nearby watching him and keeping an eye on the tree.

It was incredible, and we are quite speechless at the moment. We went to have a celebratory cup of steaming coffee at Puff Adder Viewpoint – and to recount our enviable experience and to gloat over our hoard of amazing photographs!

Wow! – We plan to return to the leopard trio this afternoon …