I wound up with 444 leopard pics (but again, I shot a lot of video, but I’ll get to that later…). Leopards are truly, TRULY beautiful creatures. Like most cats, leopards spend the majority of time sleeping. Frequently when you find them on safari, they are either crashed out in tall grass, or walking away from you. I was actually concerned that we might drive over one because they are well camouflaged and don’t seem to stir when vehicles approach. We have TONS of pictures like this.
I think what was so amazing about this trip was that we saw so many ACTIVE cats. The first night, we had a beautiful sighting of the Tamboti female. We saw her as a cub back in 2009, and she hung out with us for a while posing on some visually interesting logs. Andy’s camera (well, technically it is his 1.2 lens) does better in low light, but because he uses a fixed lens he was actually too close to get the branches in his shots. “Too close” is a GREAT problem to have on safari !
Ah, the mating pair. The Emsagwen male and Kikilezi female. This was super, SUPER cool to observe, especially because we actually found and tracked them (described in the previous post). Here’s a shot of the Kikilezi female when we found her.
Here’s the Emsagwen male marking some bushes. He also did the traditional spray but I thought this shot was a little more interesting.
When the female is ready, she paces back and forth around the male.
His expression is priceless.
The actual act takes like six seconds.
There is lots of growling and neck biting.
And then they sleep for 5-10 minutes until it is time for another round.
Oh, and for context, here’s a shot to show how close we were. That’s my camera on the left, and you can see the resting leopards right above our shadows.
If you were tagging along on Facebook, then you know that our charter flight from Mala Mala to Mashatu was canceled, leaving us with an eight hour road transfer via minivan. Not ideal, but no options so oh well. When we arrived at the Botswana border, we were met by our Mashatu ranger, who was bearing beer for Andy (points!). We were in our comfy traveling clothes, and our cameras were packed away, so we weren’t really prepared to head straight out on a game drive, but what the heck, that’s what we were there for right? This was one of those drives where you just want to go home afterwards because pretty much everything after it will be downhill ! We found a leopard, watched her drag an impala kill into a tree, AND she had three small cubs ! Because the kill was in the tree, they were there several times when we checked back over the next few days. Here’s a shot of her in the tree with the impala.
And here’s what happens if you stand up in the vehicle. Bad Andy !
Most of the time she just chilled out in the tree doing cat-like things.
Here’s one of the little cubs descending from the tree. He wasn’t very nimble – tried head-first, then rear-first, and then eventually kind of slid down using his claws for breaks. SO cute and fluffy though !
And yeah, we did have some unfortunate photo moments on this trip too. Like this could-have-been-great-if-that-vehicle-and-persons-head-wasn’t-in-the-background shot. But we’re in the back of all their shots too