When we started our early drive we first tried to find the leopard and her cub – the ones that lost their kill to hyenas. We hoped that we might just find the mother hunting again as she had been left rather hungry when the hyenas pinched her meal.
While searching we received a call about another leopard – this time a large male was moving steadfastly through a drainage line, and we wanted to plan a course that would intercept his passage. By the time we found him he was on the side of a termite mound. He was very relaxed, and we were able to photograph him using different techniques from a variety of angles, close-ups, portraits, yawns – we shot them all!
After we had spent quite a while with the handsome leopard we received another call. Not far from where we were parked a different female leopard and her cub had been sighted. We found the two together and it was simply wonderful to watch as the mother groomed her cub, and nuzzled it with plenty of head rubbing.
For our afternoon drive we went directly back to the two leopards again. The female’s name translates as ‘Termite Mound’ and it was very appropriate that when she left her cub to start patrolling she went from termite mound to termite mound. She really did us proud, and seemed to position herself on each mound in the most beautiful spot with a deepening pink and mauve coloured sky as a backdrop. She was fabulous, and we simply could not get enough. When the shadows deepened we used fill-in flash to highlight the gorgeous cat. It was a very special time, and one of the most amazing that I have been privileged to share with a leopard in this iconic Sabi Sand reserve. As I said, she went from mound to mound, and at each one it was as though she deliberately chose the best position, the best backdrop, and the best surroundings. Wow! We were lucky!
We followed the leopard as she started to hunt. She made several attempts to hunt impala, but each attempt was met with failure as the buck somehow got wind of her. Then she went after a Duiker with no success, and when she went after a Scrub Hare we really thought she had him. But no, he also got away.
In the morning we would like to follow up on one or other of the female leopards with their cubs …