We set off on our afternoon safari a little earlier than usual –it was my guests’ first drive but I decided to try and find the infamous and secretive leopard. We went to the area where a young male leopard had been seen that morning. One of my fellow rangers had found tracks going far north from where he was so we followed for a far distance.

Finally, the other ranger found this young male leopard at a small watering hole. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, he had moved off so we stayed in the area to try and find him again. Eventually we had a brief visual in the block so we went off the road to try and follow him. When we caught up with him finally, he was on top of a termite mound marking his territory.

He was so relaxed and came walking right by the vehicle. We followed him again until he lay down. As we were watching him and talking about how shy leopards usually are, he stood up and stared in one direction so I told my guests to keep quiet and we’ll see what happens. He walked to the other side of the car into long grass and started chewing on something hard. I told my guests he was probably chewing on a tortoise – leopards often play around with them and then eventually eat them from the belly.

After a few minutes, the “tortoise” came out of the long grass, only to show its true identity – a pangolin. A pangolin is similar to the armadillo, an ant eater, and is an even rarer sighting than a leopard. So to see them together in the same sighting, and interacting was unbelievable – something that others would only dream of seeing.

My guests and I were very happy and had a relaxed drive after experiencing something so exciting.

KC – Kapama River Lodge

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