Tiyane, a Resident Leopard, has Cubs (too small to see yet) at Elephant Plains in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve …

Dawie Shares his Experiences and Photographs on the Elephant Plains Photo Safari:

 

It is always amazing to experience how the vegetation changes here throughout the year, always revealing something unique, difference perspectives, and ongoing photography delights. The bright autumn colours at the moment are quite breathtaking.

Our afternoon game drive started with a check for leopards and we were thrilled when we stumbled across a beautiful young female leopard. She walked along the road and then posed beautifully on a termite mound. Once settled she scrutinised the area inquisitively, peered one way and other, looked directly at us, gave us profile shots, every possible pose. She behaved like a true professional model, enhancing our fill-in flash expertise. She proved to be a highlight, with those gorgeous, glowing autumn colours as a background.

We followed her when she started to hunt. She went after anything small without luck. The quail, mongoose, and mice all managed to scurry away into thick grass.

At sunset we moved to the male lion we had seen before, and had a decent sighting again. We parked our two vehicles at different angles to provide some creative lighting effects. Stopping at a ninety degree angle to one another allowed us to create very dramatic side-lighting on the lion, showing the features we wished to highlight. We also tried multiple exposures with the crescent moon as it rose into the dark sky.

We returned reluctantly to the Lodge, the evening was so prefect. But on the return trip we did see nightjars and a chameleon.

The lions were calling in the morning and we immediately went in search of them. On the way we found leopard tracks, and when we heard impalas calling, our tracker was able to lead us directly to Xidulu. She was hunting, and as we did not want to disturb her efforts in the thick vegetation, we left her to continue her hunt.

A very dark giraffe caught our attention next, and as he was very docile, we managed some superb shots.

We were interrupted by a call about another leopard and hurried over to find Tiyane, a resident female. She was very restless, and has suckle marks. So we could see that she has cubs that are a few days old, and we knew that she would not venture far from them. She changed direction often as she chased small prey. A few walk-by opportunities were capped by a stop at a small pan for a drink.

The wonderful sightings and experiences meant that our return to the Lodge for a meal and an editing workshop left us all with full memory cards, and wondering what the afternoon would reveal …