A Leopard With Her Kill on the Ground …

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

When we set out we wanted to find leopard tracks, but there were simply none at first. So we popped in to the hyena den. There were a few adults and subadults lounging around in the early morning sun. They were clearly not keen to move, but we were able to get a number of lovely portrait shots. We know that there are tiny pups at the den, but they were nowhere in sight.

We carried on and found soon found very fresh leopard tracks. The tracks belonged to a female leopard and when we caught up with her we found her walking around, busily marking her territory, and when she ventured into some thick bush we decided to move on. But just then she climbed onto a termite mound in full view, and in the beautiful bright golden morning light, she looked absolutely wonderful. The scene was very lovely and our memory cards filled quickly.

We left her and looked around to see what else we could photograph. We photographed a rhino, and stopped again for elephants and then giraffes. The impala are looking very healthy and many are pregnant.

Then we heard that another female leopard had been spotted. She had an impala kill that she had caught during night and had it under a tree. She had fed, but not very much at this stage. We waited, and hoped that she would take her kill into the large Marula tree next to her. She didn’t do that, but at one stage she decided decided to have a good look at her surroundings and climbed a termite mound to do this. She looked superb on the mound as she gazed around intently.

After our break back at the Lodge we headed back to the leopard. We found her lying in the shade a short distance from her kill that was still on the ground. We really hoped that she would take her kill up into the tree, so we waited patiently again, and when she got up and went to the carcass our cameras were ready. But all she did was to move the remains to a new position, and then settled to eat again. As there were no hyenas or other scavengers around she clearly felt more comfortable feeding on the ground.

We had to leave to allow another vehicle to the sighting. It didn’t take long before we found a set of male leopard tracks that we followed. We found a large male leopard, but unfortunately the sighting wasn’t great as he was partially obscured by vegetation. He rested comfortably in a cool thicket next to the river, and we decided to return later.

We returned to the leopard with the kill. She moved towards a waterhole, and as it was getting dark our flashes and spotlights came out. Her reflections when she lapped at the water were perfect.

We returned to the male leopard – and just in time. He was starting to get going and he moved along for some time before he disappeared into the night. As our time was up we headed back to the Lodge. During the afternoon we photographed rhino again, and were pleased to find buffalo as well. Tomorrow we will probable start at the female leopard again …