(Images from back of Ben’s Camera)
What a delight it was when we set out this morning and very soon bumped into Tiyane. The young leopard was very relaxed and as always very energetic. She moved along, and seemed to treat her way through the bush almost as a game as she energetically walked, jumped, examined everything as she progressed – and simply enjoyed the early morning before sunrise. Occasionally Tiyane stopped to rest, giving us a chance each time to get some great images. In fact our time with her turned out to be so superb that we were reluctant to leave her, and we ended up spending the whole morning with her. We photographed her as she moved through the bush, rested on termite mounds, examined the area around her from a branch, lay on the ground – and in short assumed just about every pose imaginable for a leopard.
A few hyenas arrived and started to sniff around. They checked to see whether Tiyane was hunting, so that they could snatch her kill from her. At times she crouched on the ground and snarled ferociously at the hyenas. And again, that provided us with great material to photograph – the snarling leopard in the foreground and the hopeful hyenas behind her.
This afternoon we returned to where we had left her, but could not locate her again. A report came through about three lionesses for the Styx pride. We had also heard about two male lions from the Birmingham male pride, so we decided to visit the males first as they were further away, and planned to return to the females on the way back to the Lodge.
We went in search of the males but we missed them. They were about a half kilometre from the border and we could not travel closer, so looked from afar, and then went to the lionesses.
We were able to photograph the lionesses in the fading light of day, and as darkness arrived they started to move. They moved into thick bush, and we followed as far as we could but the bush was thick, and as it was time to return to the Lodge, we decided to leave the cats to do their nocturnal thing.
On the way back to the Lodge we came across a civet feeding in bush adjacent to the road. It was totally unconcerned by our presence and ignored us as we used our spotlights for our photos.
And now we are enjoying our predinner drinks, waiting for the drums to signal dinner out in the bomb, under the glittering sky. It is such a perfect evening that I don’t think we are even thinking about tomorrow – we are content to let the day bring its surprises …