The One-Eyed Leopard …

Dawie Shares from Elephant Plains on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Safari:

In our last chat we mentioned that the mother leopard and her cub had a kill outside one of the rooms in the grounds of the Lodge. They disappeared during the night, so when we set out in the morning we kept a look out for them while we searched for a male leopard.

We passed plenty of Plains animals again, including giraffe and kudu, as well as impala and of course we spotted elephants around almost every bend in the road.

Then we received a call from a vehicle just ahead of us. They had spotted a female leopard, and as we started to catch up with that vehicle we heard a leopard calling a bit further on. Unfortunately for us, the first young leopard darted away across the boundary to a neighbouring reserve. It was a pity as we were keen to see a different cat.

But luck remained on our aside. Another young female suddenly strolled across the boundary close to us. She is very identifiable as she has only one eye. We realised that she was the leopard we had heard calling moments before and the other leopard had been trespassing and bolted when she realised that the resident of the territory was approaching. We followed the one-eyed leopard until she disappeared into a dense thicket where we could no longer keep up with her, and although we drove around the block, hoping that she would come out, she failed to appear again. But we did stop briefly to photograph some buffalo.

Hoping to find the leopard with her cub close to the Lodge we returned there, but there was no sign of any cats. We stopped many times to photograph elephants, especially herds with young calves as they were very playful, and certainly kept us entertained and our cameras busy!

During our midday break our tracker was clearing roads where elephants had downed trees that caused obstructions when he spotted a leopard and noted her location, so our afternoon drive started at that spot. We found tracks of both male and female leopards, and after a while we found the one-eyed leopard on a termite mound. She was a little distant from us, but we waited with a hope that she may move closer. A hyena pitched up but the leopard ignored the intruder.

We left to continue our search for the male leopard. Once again there were numerous elephants – we actually saw more elephants than impala today – and then we spotted two Rhinos. We didn’t stop long as we were determined to find one of the big cats.

We couldn’t find any fresh tracks but another vehicle found one of the other leopards. And wow! Was she ever a busy cat! It was almost difficult to keep up with her as she went about her evening business. Although we managed some decent shots, photography was challenging as she moved along with such determination and little hesitation. Night had just taken over when she disappeared into the dark and dense bush.

We found more hyenas and quite a few kudus, and made our way back to the Lodge very slowly for our final dinner together for this safari.

In the morning we really hope to have some good leopard sightings before this safari ends and the new Tusk Safari guests arrive …