A crisp cool dawn found us in the bush with the leopard that made the two impala kills and stashed them in different trees. We spent a wonderful time with her again and collected many varied images as we used different techniques to capture her from all angles. She was way up in a large tree with that lush, dark green foliage around and heavy, dark clouds in the background really set the scene.
Hearing that Wild Dogs had been spotted further to the east we drove in that direction and passed giraffe, elephants, zebras, impala, and Tsessebe, and three lions. We were thrilled to find a pack of thirteen dogs.
It was still cool and overcast when we reached the dogs – and they were hunting! What excitement there was and this increased as the dogs spotted prey and gave chase. Adrenaline surged as they hunted more and more earnestly. They went after impala twice, and we watched with wide-open eyes, holding our breath, but both pursuits were unsuccessful.
Then as they chased some impala they flushed out a small herd of kudu – with a baby! We could hardly believe what was happening right in front of us. They immediately turned their attention to the small herd. Wild Dogs love kudu because they are slower and less agile than impala, and they tend to panic easily and become disorganised quickly. The dogs changed their focus and within seconds they had the baby kudu. Some of us were so startled that cameras and photography were almost forgotten. It is a harsh event to witness, but we are all aware that this is nature and we felt privileged to be able to photograph the sequence of events at such close quarters.
The baby kudu was dead before we had even let out a breath, and the dogs began to feed, yipping noisily and excitedly as they vied for choice bits. There was nothing left in less than five minutes! So, had we delayed and arrived just five minutes later we would have seen no sign of a kill … incredible!
While the dogs were eating a hyena pitched up – and tried to sneak any scraps … he tried to grab anything – bone, skin, leg, or morsel or fragment that a dog had ripped off. The dogs turned on the hyena and bit him, causing him to run away, tail between his legs. But he returned, to face another set of angry fangs and more nips that sent him scuttling away again bites with on his bum. He returned again and again, but didn’t get very much other than those bites, mostly on his rear end.
This afternoon we started off with a visit to the young leopard again. She was not as active this afternoon, but she posed beautifully for lovely portrait shots. She wasn’t doing her usual bouncing and playing around the tree as she had this morning.
We left and stopped for a quick leg stretch and just then heard lions calling, so we clambered back onto the vehicles and went to find them. They were close by – one lioness with two males and a third, very big male. They were lying on an exposed termite mound with massive, heavy, dark thunderstorm clouds behind them. We used fill-in flash to light the lions with that ominous sky behind them. It looked wonderful, and was a superb ending to another outstanding day.
In the morning we would like to check on the young leopard again – and maybe the dogs as well …