“Shadow in the darkness” by Wynand van Niekerk


I have worked in many different environments before, but one area that has always fascinated me is the lowveld. Not the area specifically, but the inhabitants inside it. One such animal is the Leopard, who can live in solitude right thru their life.


Leopards are solitary, and will only be seen together when mating or if females have young. On rare occasions you will see two of the same gender walking together, usually siblings.


Living on a Game reserve like Kapama gives you the opportunity to observe these cats at close quarters, some of them seen often and some not so often. Farmers still shoot them as they tend to catch their livestock, and therefore you will find some individuals that will never be relaxed. On a game reserve one tends to have a better chance of seeing these illusive cats, as they get used to the vehicle traffic after a while, and they know that we don’t mean them any harm.


As an example we started seeing a female with two cubs about 8 months ago, running from the vehicles as soon as we approached. After some hard work we have managed to get her relaxed with one vehicle, and we have had numerous sightings with her and her cubs silently moving thru the night without being fazed by the cars.


Thru conservation in areas like Kapama I’m sure we will be able to observe these usually skittish cats, and thru hard work hopefully we will be able to share these moments with our guests so that the word Leopard can become a reality for them and not just a image in their head of a shadow in the darkness…..