What Chased The Hunting Leopard? …

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

Once again we went in search of tracks when we left the Lodge. We were so very keen to kind the mother leopard and her playful cub. Seeing the two interacting with their boisterous games really is a treat.

We photographed many kudu, giraffe, and impalas, and when we heard about impalas that were alarm calling we quickly went to investigate. There were many female leopard tracks, but she didn’t want to be seen.

Just then we received a call about lions at a zebra kill. More than that! Hyenas were doing what they do best! The harassed the lions from every angle. We moved there and found that the hyenas had just made off with the remains, and had disappeared into the bush. We arrived at the same time as a young male – he was the young male that we spotted alone a few days back. The females and youngsters started to depart, and we followed with the male. He lagged behind the pride, and as they moved really quickly, the male relied on their scent to trail along behind them.

As we travelled along with the male lion he vocalised regularly, contact calling the other pride members as he kept on their trail. He walked past our vehicle again and again, and finally we closed in on the pride.

When the whole pride met up again next to a large dam, the male started with a long, thirst-quenching drink while we waited for him to return to the females. The females were very intrigued by the male as it transpired that he is actually not from that pride. Some of the females growled and tried to warn him away, but he was not deterred. The lions were all beautifully placed for photography on a rise on a small island and our cameras were very busy until another vehicle arrived and we made way to give them a turn at the sighting.

We returned to track the leopards again, passing elephants and rhino – and then we found fresh leopard tracks. We noted where they were heading, and decided to return there in the afternoon. We did so and yippee! We found the leopards after a search. The mother had made a kill and went off to find her cub to come and feed with her. We were very lucky with our images again because the cub kept gazing up into the tree above to see where mom would climb to reach where she had stashed the kill.

When the light started to fade we left so as not to draw attention to the cub with our lights.

We visited the hyena den site where the hyenas delighted us with a game in a dam. They really put on a show, and we remained with them until we received another call – this time a report about another leopard not too far away.

We found a female leopard, and what a pleasure that was. She was very active, and hunting! She chased scrub hares, and shortly after the tables were turned when she was chased by a hyena. She slunk away into a thicket, signalling an optimal time for us to return to the Lodge. In the morning we can decide whether to follow up on the mother hyena or the one that hunted …