A Pregnant Leopard Searches for a Den – and Later Loses her Kill …

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

As it was the final morning for the first safari group everyone really wanted to try and see as many animals as possible.

We tried to find a Leopard as this was high on the wish list and everyone felt it would be an appropriate end to a very successful safari. While we were searching for tracks we received a call about a small pack of four Wild Dogs that had just made a kill. The dogs disappeared from the kill and we found them as they headed towards a small waterhole.

They were very active and played and chased each other as they drank the cool water. When they decided that it was too hot to continue their games and they had finished drinking they found a shady spot where they settled down to rest during the increasing heat of the day.

We made our way gradually to an area where fresh female Leopard tracks had been reported. On the way we came across a herd of Elephants and stopped to photograph them.

Shortly after that a small herd of Buffalo drinking water looked so peaceful and the scene was so idyllic that we stopped again for photographs.

Not only that – we simply had to record them because our Buffalo sighting completed our Big Five list for the first group! This was a first safari for some guests and it was an extra thrill for them to experience multiple Leopard sightings, the Big Five – plus Hyenas, Wild Dogs, and all the other species of animals and birds that we have so enjoyed during the past days.

We continued to the area where the Leopard tracks were visible and it didn’t take long before we found her. She is heavily pregnant and we watched as she climbed into different hidey-holes. She even climbed right into holes in the side of termite mounds and disappeared completely before she emerged again and moved to the next mound or very thick bush area. She was clearly searching for an appropriate den site and we followed for a while as she checked multiple areas for a suitable site. She made her way along the riverine area and when she became tired and hot she selected a shady spot and went to sleep.

After hearing during lunch about all the amazing experiences and sightings the departing Tusk Safari guests and enjoyed, the new arrivals were almost impatient to complete the briefing and get into the reserve.

Because everyone was really keen to see Wild Dogs, we went to the area where we left them earlier. The dogs were still resting, and as they only got up and moved occasionally we took a few photographs and then thought we should rather try to find the pregnant Leopard again.

On the way we passed plenty of Plains animals as always and when we saw a couple of Rhinos, they were positioned perfectly for our images. To our surprise and gratification we actually ended up with three separate Rhino sightings, but of course it was the first one that caused the greatest excitement.

While we were tracking the pregnant Leopard we came across an Impala kill that was being eaten voraciously by Hyenas. Because this was exactly where we saw the Leopard a few hours previously we deduced that she had made the kill and the Hyenas had then chased her and stolen her kill.

By now it was a little late to continue our search for the Leopard much longer, so after a quick look around we gave up and made our way back to the Lodge. And naturally, we would like to continue our search in the morning …