An Epic Moment In South Africa – Seeing The Leopards
I’m having an edgey day in South Africa. It’s been rare for me ever since I became a housewife. To wake up feeling my claws are out and sharp, and I can kill someone if I’m irritated today.
It seems timely then to share about a good, but cold and bloody experience that we recently had in South Africa. It was so good, it was practically epic. In short, we finally spotted the elusive leopard in the bush. The leopard is the hardest of the Big 5 of Africa (elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion, leopard) to spot. A good friend of ours has been here in South Africa for 29 years and been to the bush countless times, and has never seen a leopard.
We were really very very VERY lucky.
I thank our gal for the luck. She gets to see the most amazing stuff when she comes here. Last year, when we went to the bush together, she had spotted the pangolin. Which was practically a miracle in the wilderness.
And this year, it was our tracker, Wiseman who had brilliantly spotted an impala carcass tucked under a low tree. When we went closer to inspect it, a leopard ran out from the other side of the tree and disappeared into the bushes.
Everything happened in a flash. The leopard was gone before I could see its face.
But we knew the leopard would never abandon his kill. So we parked the landrover close by, and waited for hours over two days and saw not one, but TWO leopards take turns to come to feed on the carcass.
The arrow shows where the carcass was and how close we were.
If you are friends with me in Facebook (add me HERE), you would have shared my excitement when it happened. We had waited for hours for the sun to set and were watching the leopards feeding, and I had found 3G connection right there to post this!
The impala carcass looked really gross in real life. Its stomach had been ripped open and the innards cleaned out. There was some bloody and smelly spillage on the ground. It made me squirm and reminded me of the carcass we had spotted a couple of weeks ago. That one had been cleaned out by lions.
While one leopard ate, the other one would be watching nearby. In the day, the leopards were skittish and shy. But once it was night time, they knew they were the stronger ones and did not flinch even when we had light on them. I was shooting this fellow like my life depended on it.
It was great justice I was doing to that Canon 100-400 L lens that a friend had lent me. The shots were beautiful. I trembled as I watched the leopards devour that impala carcass through my camera viewfinder.
We returned to the same spot on the 3rd day and the carcass and leopards were both gone. A closer inspection of the grounds showed that the hyenas had come and had probably eaten whatever was left of the carcass in the night.
Here are some of my favourite shots of this elusive animal that took us so many trips before we finally spotted it. It was worth the wait because when we finally did see it, it was practically an experience right out of National Geographic.
Click on the thumbnails to view –