50% Luck, 50% Skill
I’m sure most guides would agree with me that there can be times when we really do feel the pressure on safari to meet our guest’s expectations. I had 2 wonderful guests for three nights and we had not yet spotted a leopard while out on our morning or evening safaris. The pressure was certainly on, for their last safari, to see if we could finally manage to find this all elusive of cats.
The day started like any other. We were all enjoying a cup of coffee before it was time to head off on their final safari. The banter between the guests and myself about not yet finding a leopard was flowing around the table. We had developed such a wonderful friendship during their short stay, I was enjoying the camaraderie. As we headed towards the vehicle I could tell that my guests were ready to commit the entire drive in search of a leopard, and so we did…
We first started searching in an area where a female had been seen a few days ago, she is a very relaxed leopardess and is almost oblivious to the vehicles. After about an hour or so of searching for any signs for her, we were unsuccessful. We decided to leave the area and move into another leopard’s territory. Just as we were sitting with a few male giraffes discussing our plans for the rest of drive, my tracker Vusi frantically raised his hand and told me to quieten down. It took me a matter of seconds to hear what he was talking about. Alarm calls!
This was a great sign, as impala and other animals alike will give off an alarm call when they see a predator. I told my guests “brace yourselves folks”, we picked up our game drive speed and made our way straight to the area where the distress calls were coming from. It had taken us a while to get to the spot where the impalas were, but luckily they were still making the alarm calls. Vusi turned to me and said “bamba mfo” which means “there’s a kill my friend”.
My eyes followed to the direction he was pointing, and to our amazement there she was, a beautiful female leopard, crouching low in the bushes with her impala kill beneath her and face full of blood.
The expressions on my guest’s faces were priceless… What Success! Our zig-zagging earlier that morning had certainly paid off. We managed to spend a good few minutes with her as she dragged her kill to safety and found the comfort of a shaded termite mound to rest after spending all her energy on her hunt.
After we left her there were high fives all around. My guests got to tick off and see all of the Big 5! The energy in the game vehicle was amazing and we were all ecstatic that our escapades finally came to a successful end.
There is no greater feeling than guests leaving for home with all their expectations met, and in this case, absolutely exceeded! I am truly privileged to do what I do and make such memorable moments for people from all around the world.
Story and photos by: Ranger Cameron – River Lodge
Besides the Lion, the Leopard is the next biggest African cat, with an average mass of 60 to 70kg. The Leopard’s hunting technique is to either ambush or stalk its prey, in either instance it tries to get as close as possible to its target. It then makes a brief and explosive charge up to 60km/h, pouncing on the prey with a bite to the neck.read more