Ever since I can remember, leopards have been my all-time favourite animal. Since becoming a guide, I’ve dreamed of being able to find a leopard den and being able to watch a leopard cub grow up. Here at Sabi Sabi, I’ve had the privilege to do both and it has been nothing but amazing. It’s hard to describe the excitement that runs through your body every time you manage to track and find that precious little cub with its mother.
On one such occasion, my tracker Richard and I had found tracks of a female leopard which were situated on a road near a riverine early one morning. After inspecting the crisp tracks, we determined their general direction, and followed up.
The suspense was building. Richard and I were determined, and the excitement felt from the guests sitting in the vehicle was overwhelming.
The tracks veered off the road and into the riverine, which is the perfect habitat for a leopard.
We switched off the vehicle for a short period, to listen out for any alarm calls and to thoroughly scan the area, when we caught a glimpse of a spotted hyena walking through the riverine on the opposite bank. Hyenas are often an indication of a carcass or a predator in the area.
We quickly made our way around and not far from where the hyena was walking, disguised by thickets and branches, we observed a bushbuck carcass hanging from one of the limbs of the tree. We scanned the area to try and find the culprit who was responsible for making the kill, but had no such luck. After a period of time and waiting patiently, we decided to leave and come back a little later that morning to check if anything had changed.
We returned about an hour later and were literally blown away by what we had found. No more than 20 meters from the carcass, lying in the grass was not one, but two leopards. A mother and cub which were peacefully playing and grooming each other, not far from where we were parked. The cub even walked up to the vehicle before moving off towards its mother in the direction of where the carcass was hanging in the tree.
A truly incredible experience which I’ll never forget.
Below are a sequence of photos and a video of the whole experience.