Khwai River Lodge (Okavango): A Young Hunting Leopard …

News from Villiers Steyn:

(Images from back of Villiers’ camera or computer)

We were out well before sunrise this morning and started our drive all along the river to see what early morning wildlife abounded there. Before long we found three Ground Hornbills – two adults with their young chick – as they ‘oomphed’ along, eating and chatting as they progressed.

Shortly after that we passed a hyena den where five adults and two youngsters were very busy. Some adults on one side were chewing voraciously on something while others carted bones around. The unconcerned youngsters suckled hungrily, oblivious to the goings on around them.

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There was plenty of vocalisation and the air was thick with dust, all creating the most wonderful atmosphere. We were able to get some side-lit and back-lit shots – many very successful indeed.

From there we moved on – and luck was most definitely on our side. We found a huge Dagga Boy (Buffalo Bull). He was just emerging from a sloppy mud pool so he was dripping wet. And not too far away we encountered a large herd of buffalo (large herds are seldom seen here). There were 100+ with some large bulls and some very young calves. We spent ages photographing them in the beautiful golden morning side lighting that created very dramatic silhouette shots with their shiny horns contrasting sharply against the dark backdrop. There were both Yellow-billed and Red-billed Oxpeckers on and around their backs and faces.

Driving along we could hardly believe how much general game there was. Kudus, Giraffe, Impala, Zebra, and a number of large elephant bulls along the Khwai River itself. Some were eating the long, lush grass while others were bathing in the river. We spent some time with three of them, collecting dozens of fabulous images.

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Although we spotted a lot of fresh leopard tracks and heard of lions nearby, we didn’t manage to actually see any big cats.

We did see some tree squirrels sunning themselves as they clung to the trunk of a tree.

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Oh – how about the bird life. There is just so much. We photographed Francolins sitting on a termite mound, and the magnificently plumaged Lilac-breasted Rollers always look simply breath-taking.

This afternoon we had a long search for a leopard and although we passed plenty of general game, there was simply no sign of a predator.

Then as the afternoon started to think about changing to evening it all happened.

First we saw a pack of Wild Dogs – but that could really be classified as a glimpse as they disappeared before we had time to focus our cameras properly.

We stopped for sundowners and almost immediately after we found him – a handsome young leopard. He was stalking impala, so although he was very relaxed we didn’t remain with him too long at the risk of disturbing his hunt. But we remained long enough for some decent shots.

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On the way back to the camp we saw a Barred Owlet.

Finally we stopped on a vast open plain to do some star shots with a beautiful side-lit Apple-leaf Tree.

This brought us back to the camp really late and now we are ready for an ultra late dinner.

In the morning we would like to track the young leopard again …