Lesson Time For a Young Huntress …

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

As the early morning was very overcast and quite gloomy we decided to start the day by trying our luck at the Hyena Den. The animals were out, with many inquisitive pups and youngsters playing boisterously. The entire scene looked wonderful against the moody sky, and our photos turned out remarkably well.

We were still photographing at the den when we received a call. One of the female Leopards had been sighted not far from us. She was close to where we saw her previously with her impala kill. The report had said that she was in a tree, and we were keen to photograph her up there. However, she jumped down shortly before we arrived. For just a second we were a trifle disappointed, but that changed when we realised why the Leopard had jumped down from the tree. We spotted two Lionesses with a young male Lion, and the Leopard had jumped into the tree to try and locate the exact position of the Lions. Having seen the Lions from her lofty perspective, the Leopard came down and quickly made her way in the opposite direction to get as far as possible from the large intimidating big cats.

We followed the Leopard as she swiftly left the vicinity of the Lions. When she spotted a Duiker she started to stalk it and for a few minutes everything became very tense indeed. We held our breath as she crept closer and closer to her prey, but before she reached a close enough distance to pounce, the Duiker sensed danger and fled.

We followed her for a while longer until she was lost in thick vegetation.

Next we moved towards an area we haven’t explored on this trip before and on the way there we encountered another young female Leopard. She was walking along in a riverbed, and moved along, playing, and pouncing on moving twigs and leaves. She is not quite two years old, and her playful kittenish mannerisms are still very evident. When she spotted some vultures in a tree they fully absorbed her interest as she approached them. We actually thought that she would attach them, but eventually she lost interest and went to drink at a pool in the river.

Then the young Leopard spotted a herd of Nyala. She tried to stalk them, being much to young to realise that they were far too large for her to take on. But nonetheless, she tried valiantly and of course she messed it all up. The Nyala spotted her easily and trotted away, but it was a good training or practice session for the young huntress. She walked towards us along the riverbank and we were able to add those images to our lovely collection of the beautiful young cat.

After lunch and a Lightroom session we made our way to another area of the property we have not visited on this trip. We had reports of a pride of Lions there and started our afternoon game drive in that direction.

We drove along slowly and passed two Rhinos grazing peacefully in an open area.

We photographed Nyala, Kudu, and other Plains game. It was still a little early for the Lions to stir in the heat of the afternoon, so we went in search of another Leopard with a cub that is sometimes seen there. Thee was no sign of her or her cub – not even a track, so we went to the Lions.

There were five young Lions – males and females. They eventually woke up as the sun set, and started to greet and groom each other. They sat together on a termite mound, placing them in the most ideal position for photographs. We remained with them until dark and time to return to the Lodge for our dinner under the Stars in the boma.

Whew! After the amazing days we have experienced here, what can tomorrow hold for us …?