As we drove away from the Lodge in the early morning darkness we found lion tracks. We followed these for a long time and finally found the pride in a riverbed. We couldn’t get down there to the lions but we could see them quite clearly from our raised spot on the bank.
Not far away we noticed a small herd of six or seven buffalo. We know that this particular lion pride like to hunt buffalo. So we waited to see if the lions would notice the closeness of the buffalo and then react. But the lions seemed oblivious to the buffalos’ proximity and settled down in the soft warm sand of the dry riverbed where they fell asleep.
We left the lions to their slumbers and continued our drive. Before long we found male leopard tracks and the size of the paw prints indicated that this was one of the dominant males in the area. Our pursuit started. He could not be far ahead of us. Then we spotted the remains of a kill stashed up in a tree a fair distance from the tracks we were following. So we changed direction and when we arrived at the tree all we could see were hyenas milling around the base of the tree. We checked all around, with the hyenas obscuring our view in all directions as they yipped and dashed about excitedly.
Finally we found the large male leopard. He lay comfortably in a small thicket and did not even glance at us when we arrived. We were able to stop quite close to the relaxed animal and captured some great images. We hoped that he would return to his kill in the tree but maybe because there were so many hyenas creating so much chaos he showed no sign of stirring.
We headed back to the lodge and in the afternoon we headed in the direction of the leopard. Surely he would return to his kill in the tree. On the way we bumped into another smaller, young male leopard in another tree with a kill. He moved around in the tree and restlessly lay down on a comfortable branch and then fed on his duiker kill before he settled on a different branch. Then after feeding again he descended from the tree and settled in a patch of long grass for a nap.
Realising that the leopard would probably doze until sunset we made our way back to the large male leopard we had seen during the morning. We found him up in his tree and our cameras immediately went into action as he fed on his impala kill.
It was really special to be able to photograph two different leopards in two trees, each with a kill.
A call came through that the pride of lions we saw during our morning drive had been located again. They were feeding on a buffalo carcass. The pride had noticed the presence of the buffalo and hunted during our midday break. We dashed there and were in time to photograph plenty of interaction between the pride members as they squabbled over the juicier bits of the meal. The sun gave way to darkness and our spotlights came our to continue photographing the activities.
And yet another fabulous day here leaves us really looking forward to the morning again – should we start with a leopard, or the lions?…