A Successful Leopard Hunt with a Small Twist at Elephant Plains …

Hendri Reports from the Sabi Sand Photo Safari:

As planned we first tried to find the Wild Dog pack again this morning, but there was simply no sign of them.

However, we found fresh leopard tracks and started to follow these. Our search was interrupted when we heard about a pair of lions that were mating. We arrived to find them resting and although the male tried to stimulate some interest in the female she was not at all interested and rebuffed his advances very firmly.

She wanted nothing to do with him. He gave up and the two wandered off to an open area at Big Dam where everyone was able to get some really good shots of the honeymoon couple.

Soon after that we were very pleased to see some White Rhinos lying in a cool muddy patch where they tried to counteract the heat of the day.

There are numerous herd of elephants here, and throughout the morning and afternoon drives we saw quite a few of them, including a breeding herd with calves of different ages enjoying themselves at a waterhole, splashing and spraying water everywhere to cool down.

A Side-striped Jackal was going about his business, foraging around the bush. I am not sure why, but he looked really scruffy. At least he was close to us and we could capture some great photographs of the unkempt fellow.

This afternoon we followed up on the leopard tracks that we saw in the morning. We noticed that there were both male and female tracks and came to understand that they are mating – but where?

Then we found a young female leopard. She was stalking a Scrub Hare and managed to flush it out into the open on the airstrip where she chased it at full speed. It was so very exciting. She managed to catch the hare, and we had just decided that it was all over when the hare somehow managed to get away and dash in the direction of the bushes at the side of airfield. But the leopard went after her prey and grabbed it again. As she did this, the sounds brought hyenas running onto the scene and the young cat had no choice other than to bolt up the nearest tree. Unfortunately for her the tree was little more than a sapling, very slender and very precarious. So all she could do was to consume her kill right there and then, clinging uncomfortably to a branch that could just about bear her weight. The hyenas circled and jumped around the tree, hoping that the kill would be dropped. Our photographs of that encounter also turned out really well, and when the sun set our spotlights came out.

The hyenas finally gave up and slunk away. A few moments later the leopard dropped what little was left of the kill and jumped out of the tree. She ignored the remains and went to a nearby Waterhole where she had a welcome drink. Our spotlights highlighted her beautiful reflection in the water, and the setting was just right for some more very memorable images.

Back at the Lodge everyone compared notes and images, feeling extremely lucky that another day at the Sabi Sand Reserve delivered exactly what we all hoped for – and more. So, in the morning we may start with a search for the Wild Dogs again ..