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Dawie Shares His Eventful Diary During The Elephant Plains Photo Safari

(Photos: Brendon Cremer)

Our afternoon game drive was busy, busy, busy.

We set out with the prime purpose of finding a male leopard that had been reported close to a dam. When we arrived at the dam we found fresh tracks but there was no sign of a leopard. As we drew closer to the dam we spotted a herd of elephants drinking at the water. They were well positioned for photography for a while, and then, as is often the way with elephants, they melted away into the bush.

Then on the opposite side of the dam four rhinos suddenly materialised. A bull and a cow were accompanied by two calves of different ages. They wallowed in the dam, and played in the sloshy, muddy edge of the water. The bull challenged the older calf, and huffed and puffed as he chased the youngster around. The interaction was totally captivating.

Plains game could be seen everywhere as we drove around. We collected many images of Impala, Kudu, Wildebeest, and then received a call about fresh leopard tracks.

Then a second call informed us that a young female leopard, Cara, had been found and she had a baby impala kill. She and the kill were on a termite mound, but as the visibility was quite poor and not great for photography we preferred to go in search of the Wild Dogs.

We caught up with the dogs as they headed to a dam. We followed them and were rewarded with plenty of opportunity to photograph them drinking and as they played and splashed around in the cool water – and also when they chased some Waterbuck. We had plenty of time to compose different shots, backlighting, motion blur – all the techniques we could think of. Then hyenas arrived and the dogs chased or were alternatively chased, creating so much chaos that it was difficult to choose where to point out cameras. There was just so much happening in all directions.

After all the excitement we decided to head off in the direction of Sibuye, the mother leopard and her cub. We were on our way when we received info about a male leopard and we turned that way instead. As we arrived the leopard decided to wander off towards the south, and across the boundary. Oh, well! It doesn’t always go as you wish, but there was still more in store for us. Suddenly as we waited, watching the leopard just in sight, hyena arrived on the scene and chased the leopard into a tree where he had a kill.

After that bit of excitement we headed to a male lion where we grabbed some superb evening shots before it was time for supper, and an early night in preparation for the morning drive.

At first we were not sure which direction to take for our early safari, but then we received an alert about a leopard close to a neighbouring camp. After about two kilometres of tracking we found the cat. He marched steadily along towards another Lodge, and we actually caught up with him inside that Lodge. He looked quite rotund, with a very full belly and had clearly eaten recently.

While there we heard that Sibuye had been spotted with both Cubs. On the way we passed a herd of around a hundred buffalo. They were relaxed, and photography was very straightforward.

Sibuye had left her cubs shortly before we arrived, but the two youngsters were both in the open.

The male cub lounged on a lowdown branch of a large tree while his sister restlessly climbed up, down, up and down.

Eventually she chose to settle on a broken branch. As she made herself comfortable a hyena pitched up intent on stealing their kill. However, the remains were stowed safely out of reach in the upper branches of the trees.

On the way back to the Lodge for our breakfast we spotted some giraffe and of course plenty of Plains game.

Whew, we certainly have a number of options for our next game drive. Which leopard? Which direction to go – and all are good options with plenty of promise …

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