(Images from the back of Brendon’s Camera)
During the night we heard repeated lion calls not far from the Lodge and with this in mind we jumped onto our vehicles before the first shards of day changed the inky sky to grey. We headed out to find the lions but then we spotted some large and quite fresh leopard tracks, so we deviated to follow these.
We didn’t find the leopard, most likely because we deviated again – this time to follow fresh Wild Dog tracks. The tracks even covered our vehicle tracks from where we looped a short time before, so we knew that the dogs could not be far away. After about ten minutes we found a pack of fifteen dogs, running around and clearly hunting.
We stuck with the dogs, and sure enough, it didn’t take long before they all dashed off into a thicket where they killed a young kudu cow.
We arrived to find them eating noisily, scrapping over bits of meet, arguing with one another and yipping and cackling excitedly all the time. The photography wasn’t the best and quite difficult in the dense undergrowth, but the sights and sounds were quite overwhelming.
We left the dogs to return to the leopard tracks. This time we had more luck and found Salayexe, the photogenic leopard mother that lives in the area. She also had a kill – also a young kudu. It was still on the ground, so the kill must have taken place moments before we arrived. But then a hyena arrived and stole the kill from the hapless leopard! After this she climbed a nearby tree, and waited there while we photographed her.
Then she came down from the tree. She had decided that enough was enough, and the sight of the hyena devouring her well earned meal spurred her to try and get it back from the bush pirate. Seeing her approach, the hyena moved away with the kill, but we were unable to follow and see the outcome of the encounter.
This afternoon we returned to Salayexe and found her in the same place as this morning. She had retrieved her kill, and had dragged it way up into the high branches of a tree. She slept peacefully under the tree in some cool, long grass.
We continued, stopping now and again for elephants and herds of giraffe. We also saw a couple of White Rhinos.
But then we encountered Tiyane, Salayexe’s two year old cub. We spent time with her, photographing her through the long, colourful grass.
And then goodness! We came across Anderson, the huge male leopard. He is one of the dominant males in the area. He was on a mission, marching through the grass, and we spent a lovely time with him as he went about his evening business.
Finally we returned to Salayexe and spent the remainder of our time with her. The darkening blue sky again looked stupendous behind her, tinged as it was with the reds, oranges and yellows of the sunset. Our spotlight work was particularly lovely as Salayexe stood out so beautifully against that vibrant sky. She ate for a while, then moved her kill from one side of the tree to the opposite side.
She out on a fabulous show for us. It was quite wonderful and we all thoroughly enjoyed every moment.
We would like to start the morning back at Salayexe again …