A Leopard Gives a Hyena a Beating …

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

Today was our last full day on this safari and we therefore hoped that it would be a good one. And wow! We could have asked for more.

Even though it was dark and overcast this morning we were thrilled when as soon as we left the Lodge this reports came through about the young female leopard that we saw in and around the camp yesterday. Because of the poor lighting we tried slow panning shots with complementary full flash. That worked well and everyone ended up with successful photographs. Then we lowered our shutter speed to get more movement into the images.

The bush that the leopard moved through was challenging and thick at times, but we remained with her for almost the whole morning. She is a very relaxed cat and does not react to our presence at all. As she moved along she vocalised continuously. Every now and again she stopped and made those sounds that penetrate through the bush and that announced her presence in her territory. Now and again she climbed a termite mound or fallen tree and posed for us before she moved on again.

We returned to the Lodge to watch the rugby and to add to our already successful day we were able to celebrate our Springbok team’s win in New Zealand. Oh yes, we thought, it is all going our way!

This afternoon we heard almost immediately that the large male leopard that we saw recently had been spotted. This was the leopard that we found eating the Nyala remains in the tree. We found him lying very flat and took some portrait shots when he lifted his head. However, he was not inclined to do much so we moved in search of more action.

Then we received another call, this time about a female leopard. We drove there and found her up in a tree with a kill. Although she has two ten month old cubs, we only managed to find one of them. We spent the remainder of the evening with the cub. The late afternoon light was beautiful and as the sun lowered towards the horizon we used our flashes and then our spotlights after dark. The cub is rather small for one that is already ten months old. We are not sure, but think it is possibly a young female.

We returned to the female in the tree. There was a terrific and rather terrifying encounter when a hyena arrived and approached the tree. The leopard dashed down from the tree and gave the hyena quite a harsh beating, that caused the hyena to run away, tail between its legs, suitable chastised. The leopard then strolled over to a bank where she lay down for a nap while we blinked, amazed at what we had seen!

At that point we were out of time and we had to return to the Lodge, very satisfied with our sightings and photography for the day.

For final game drive in the morning we have any of the four leopards we saw today to follow up on again …