A Leopard Visits the Lodge – with a Surprise …

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

It was overcast and gloomy when we set out this morning. The lions had crossed to a neighbouring territory during the night and we could see no sign of leopards anywhere, – not even a few decent tracks.

But we did find hyenas. A youngster was with his mother and it was heartwarming to watch her nuzzling her pup. They were at eye level with us and we managed to get quite a few portrait shots of the two together.

Back at the Lodge we had a visitor! The young female leopard that we have seen near here a few times decided to investigate the Lodge grounds. She was seen strolling along one of the paths that leads to the swimming pool shortly before lunchtime. She disappeared under the swimming pool deck and then ambled across to the nearby waterhole that is overlooked from the camp.

Many alarm calls could be heard from vervet monkeys and from impala during the early afternoon. We left early on our game drive and went straight to the location where the leopard was last sighted but she had moved into the bush and we could not see her – but not for long. We found her under the verandah of one of the rooms within the Lodge grounds. We left her there as we could not get a really good view for photography.

A few days ago we had found a very shy and nervous male leopard in a tree with an Nyala kill. We couldn’t get really good photographs of him as he was simply too skittish and clearly unaccustomed to vehicles. Now we heard that a male leopard was in the same tree and we made our way there, wondering whether this was the same leopard we saw previously. No, it was not … a different leopard, not very shy, was polishing off the Nyala remains. When he had eaten enough he descended from the tree and went off into the thick bush.

We returned to see if we could see the female leopard under the verandah. She had moved away from that spot and was sprawled out on a branch of a leadwood tree just a stone’s throw from the Lodge perimeter. By now the sun was setting and we photographed her in the tree with the beautiful sunset colours behind her. She looked really stunning in that setting.

We remained with the leopard for a long time, until she came down from the tree and went to the waterhole for a drink and then very quickly blended into the night.

We were told that returned to the same spot later and met up with the male leopard that had eaten the Nyala remains. We dashed back but missed the two when they went off into the bush.

Tomorrow we plan to try and find either or both of the leopards again …