What a superb day!
Let’s start at the beginning. We set out to find the mother leopard at the impala kill with her cub, but before we reached them we came across the pride of lions we saw previously. They were still dozing as the sun was far from rising, and we had to use our spotlights for photography. When the morning started to lighten, the area was bathed in a lovely, quite eerie blueish misty light, and the effect photographically was fabulous.
Once the sun peeped over the horizon we went to find the leopards with their kill. No sign of the leopards, and no sign of the kill. However, plenty of hyena tracks gave us a very good idea about where the kill had gone!
We checked the area again until we found leopard tracks and before long we found the mother leopard and cub a little further down the river. They hadn’t gone very far, and were enjoying an early morning frolicking game. They started to move away, probably because they were quite close to the lions – but just then we developed a vehicle problem and had to leave the area immediately.
Luckily we sorted the vehicle problem within minutes and rejoined the leopards again. We followed them until they settled down in the river a few kilometres away from where we found them. Then hyenas arrived and really bugged the leopards. They chased both cats into a tree where they clung and looked down at the circling scavengers.
The tree was rather thin and the cub clung to the top, with mom lower down. Before long the mother lost patience and jumped down from the tree and tried to chase the hyenas away, but they were determined to carry on pestering and annoying the two cats.
We returned to the Lodge as the interactions seemed to go on and on with no resolution.
Back at the Lodge we enjoyed a meal, and a Lightroom session before it was time to head out again. We received a report during our break the the leopard was away from the hyenas and was spotted quite close to the Lodge, but she was in very dense vegetation, so we decided to give her a miss, and to rather follow up on another report about a different female leopard.
We found female leopard tracks and followed them for some time, passing many, many elephants, but we gave up on our leopard search when the light started to fade, and we rather went to catch up with the lions again. We used spotlights on the lions for some creative, different, and artistic photographs. The results are just what we hoped for!
Then a large elephant arrived. We turned off all the lights so as not to interfere, and in the darkness we could just about make out the looming shape of the elephant as he chased and scattered the lions in all directions. It was a pity for us as the lions had been perfectly placed on and around a termite mound. However, the grumpy elephant sent them fleeing, and we also retreated quite hastily before he decided to turn his bad temper onto us!
The lions settled down to doze, and just as we decided to leave them, they jumped up and dashed away. We followed and then made out a herd of impala in the night that started alarm calling. So once again we switched our lights off as the lions seemed to be hunting and again we did not wish to interfere …
We returned to the Lodge, very satisfied with our eventful, interesting day and were settling down to dinner when we the Lodge staff told us to remain where we were – as the leopard and her cub were outside one of the rooms with a Bushbuck kill – so no wandering around alone in the dark for us …