First Game Drive and a Leopard Hunt! …

Dawie Reports from Djuma in the Sabi Sand Reserve (Djuma Photo Safari):

It is truly wonderful to be back in the Sabi Sand Reserve where there is always so much to see and spotting big cats, notably leopards, is almost a certainty.

We all arrived this afternoon and wow! What a fabulous start to our safari. It is overcast and cool, which is quite a gift for this time of year. After delectable lunch and then a friendly briefing we were ready for action. The bush is beautiful and lush after the seasonal rains, and everything is very green – so very different from my last visit here when the land was parched, and animals searched for water. We were a trifle concerned that the extra foliage would hide the animals … but there was no need to worry.

In fact as we arrived at the Lodge we could see an elephant at the dam right in front of the Lodge, and on our drive we saw a herd of about 20-30 elephants with youngsters of varying ages. They were at a waterhole and the little ones had such fun as they splashed around in the refreshing water.

Soon after we spotted a large kudu standing majestically on top of a termite mound and in a superb position for photography. We took advantage as he stood there, very still, and gave us ample time to get the best shots. It was still very overcast, and the diffuse light created a very quiet, serene atmosphere.

Two Rhinos were grazing in long grass when we spotted them. Every now and again they lifted their heads for a look around and each time cameras clicked furiously.

We kept a lookout for predator tracks and were thrilled when we found fresh male leopard tracks. And it didn’t take long before we found him – a handsome large male leopard who is well known in the area. He moved around and sniffed at different bushes and logs before he scent-marked. We noticed that his scent-marking was very concentrated and more than usual. Our tracker then informed us that a female had been around that spot earlier in the day – he was leaving a strong message for her.

We followed the leopard for ages. He walked down a road, towards us and then strolled past us. When he spotted a Scrub Hare he went into hunting mode, and we waited excitedly with our photographic equipment ready for the moment. But after a brief attempt he gave up and rather went to settle down and groom himself.

So after a fabulous first day we are ready for dinner and an early start in the morning …