Honeymooning Leopards …

Brendon’s News from Elephant Plains on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Tour:

Just before bedtime last night we heard that one of the guides had seen three leopards together. So, hoping that the three would still be together or in close proximity to each other we headed straight there before dawn this morning. We realised that with two females and a male, the likelihood of confrontations, disagreements, and scraps would be high, accompanied by plenty of territorial calling.

As we approached the area where they had been seen we found the male walking alone down the road towards us. Out came our cameras and we photographed the healthy, handsome fellow as he went along on his mission.

Soon he veered off the road and headed into the veld. And appearing as if from thin air, a female materialised, and the two started mating immediately. We surmised that the male had moved away for a few minutes while the female lay down. As soon as he returned their amorous behaviour resumed.

We remained with the two leopards for almost the entire morning. The light was crisp and bright after sunrise and we were able to really capitalise on that for memory cards filled with successful images. We couldn’t have asked for more.

Besides the leopards we saw three different rhinos and plenty of elephants. Then we heard about a lion not far away. We found a good looking, strong male that is an infrequent visitor to this area. He was lying down with his head up, looking around. He has joined a coalition with two other lions and together they seem intent on taking over and asserting their dominance in northern section of the Sabi Sand Reserve.

On the way back to the Lodge we found six lionesses together. They are a part of the pride that has become separated, with fragments of the pride scattered throughout the reserve. The lionesses were asleep, with very full bellies. They had definitely eaten well during the night and showed no desire to move or even stir when we approached.

When we headed towards the mating leopards on our afternoon drive, we passed the six lionesses again. They were still quite comatosed, so we left them to sleep and carried on to the leopards.

At first the leopards were also resting in the heat of the day, but as the afternoon wore on, and the temperature dropped a little they became more active and resumed mating again. We spent the remainder of the game drive with them, except now and again when we left to scout around before we returned to the leopards.

While away from the leopards we saw rhino again, and when we found a hyena lying in a pool of water to get some relief from the heat of the day we just had to stop for photographs. The brilliant blue sky reflected beautifully in the water and the light on the leopard was fabulous.

Before we returned to the Lodge we returned to the leopards yet again.

By now we needed spotlights to photograph them mating, or individually when they walked around.

After another very full day here at the Sabi Sand Reserve we are ready for our our sumptuous dinner under the stars, with the music of the nighttime bush all around. In the morning we would like to visit both the lionesses and the leopards again …