Predator Interactions…

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

Not long after leaving the Lodge we heard that large male leopard tracks had been found towards the south – eastern section of Sabi Sand. We headed there and located the tracks which we followed and were rewarded when we found a strapping, large male leopard. We actually spent the remainder of the morning with him. The cat was really busy … we followed him as he patrolled his territory. He scent-marked, sniffed the vegetation, walked through the bushes, strolled down the road, climbed termite mounds and other vantage points, and being very relaxed with our presence we enjoyed a wonderful morning of photography with him.

When the handsome cat eventually disappeared into a neighbouring area we took a break for a quick welcome cup of coffee and then continued our game drive.

We passed a few herds of elephants, where we had to stop for photos. Then everyone’s excitement increased when we were informed about a pack of Wild Dogs. We shot off in that direction and caught up with them moments after they made a kill – probably a Bushbuck. Wild Dog kills are invariably chaotic, with plenty of noise, yips and snarls, running back and forth, dashing after each other and running and chasing when any of the dogs snagged a chunk of the kill and made off with it. It was difficult to decide which of the fifteen frenetic dogs to photograph next. Cameras pointed here, there, and everywhere. What an experience!

We then headed to a female leopard with a kill in a tree, but she did not come down from her comfortable resting place way up on a sturdy branch, so we returned to her as soon as we could in the afternoon. On the way back to her we saw the Wild Dogs again. They spent the afternoon trying to sleep while a nearby group of hyenas approached them from time to time. Each time the hyenas came close the dogs leaped up and chased them. The dogs tried to settle down again and again to sleep, but the persistent hyenas really gave them little chance to rest. It was fantastic to watch!

When we returned to the leopard there was so much action there as well! Hyenas again! They everywhere, adults and pups milled around. Because the kill was next to a dam, some of the hyenas chose the coolness of the water to rest, while others prowled around and youngsters chased each other.

Even Rhinos arrived for a drink at the dam. They ignored the hyenas, and after having a long drink they ambled off back into the bush.

Meanwhile the leopard woke up, and came down from the tree. Before long she was up again, then down and up a couple of times more – and again after dark! Who could ask for more!

So after yet another eventful, exciting day we returned to the Lodge, and as always, looking forward to tomorrow …