From Leopards to Lizards – and …

Dawie Shares from Elephant Plains on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Safari:

Our final game drive for group one started with a visit to a large male leopard with a kill. Someone spotted him late yesterday and we found him quickly based on their information.

The leopard was way out of reach in a tree with his kill while hyenas around the tree yipped, circled, and leaped upward in frustration. We watched the scene for quite some time. The large tree branches were very comfortable and the satiated cat didn’t move for ages. The bright blue sky behind the tree looked beautiful and with some fill-in flash we captured some memorable shots. Eventually the leopard decided to jump down from the tree to lie in a riverbed.

We left the male cat to sleep and then noticed a set of female leopard tracks very close by. We followed these, and although they were fresh we had no luck.

During our coffee break we had fun photographing Giant Plated Lizards as they drank from small puddles in the rocks.

During our short coffee stop we received two calls about different female leopards. We decided to split up and the one Tusk vehicle visited the one while the other followed up on the second sighting.

Both sightings were the mother leopards, one with one cub, the other with two. We found the mother playing in the sand with her young cub. The area was very open and we had a very clear view of the two as they rolled around, chased each other, and played as young cats do.

The other vehicle found the mother with the two cubs. The mother had killed an impala and the three were feeding when our group arrived. The kill was on the ground and mom gave the cubs plenty of time to feed while she stood guard.

This afternoon, after the new safari group had checked in, had lunch and joined us for a briefing, we all headed back to the mother with her cub in the riverbed. We found them playing again, and this time the cub was particularly energetic. He played, ran around non-stop, jumped in and out of trees, and ran circles around his mother.

We eventually left the leopards to see what else we could spot. We stopped to photograph a herd of elephants enjoying a dust bath.

Next we decided to visit the male leopard that we had seen early in the morning with his kill. We searched for him for a while and found him snoozing next to a mud wallow. He roused himself at one stage for a drink and then settled down to sleep again.

Hearing that lions had been spotted, we left the leopard in favour of the lions. They walked towards us and looked really terrific in our spotlights. Once again, having two vehicles, we were able to use different lighting techniques and angles for some superb shots.

And to end our day, on the way back to the Lodge we stopped to photograph a chameleon.

Tomorrow we really have so many choices to start our day …