A couple of months back I had one of those game drives you do not easily forget. The first two hours of drive were not really special but after my drinks brake as it got really dark one of the other rangers called me to come and give him a hand with some female leopard tracks he had just found. Now tracking leopard can be difficult enough during daylight, at night it gets almost impossible. But as my guest had not seen leopard yet I decided to go and give him a hand. As I turned the corner I bumped into a large male leopard marking his territory, the search for a leopard just got cut very short.
For a while Freedom and myself, the other ranger, followed the male as he worked his way through the reserve marking his territory. Eventually he laid down just next to the road to take a breather from his marking, great so now me and Freedom can take turns parking in front of him to give our guests the coveted “head shots” as they are called. So as I backed up to let Freedom out so I could go for my photographs my tracker suddenly discovers a young female peeking from around the bush. So now there are two leopard!!
The young female was apparently just very curious about this big male she came across but she did not want to be noticed, but as my tracker shone his light on her she moved and made a sound. Immediately the big male responded and looked around what was happening and to find out what the possible threat was. What followed was a quite hectic chase. The male following the female and us trying to keep up with two leopard in the dark in the thick bush. Eventually the female went up a tree to escape the male but as he came close again she jumped out from about eight meters up, it was an amazing sight, a leopard flying through the air backlit by freedoms spotlight. We then tried to follow them a bit more but soon lost them as the bush got really to thick. But what a cool ending of a game drive.
By Roel van Muiden, Ranger, Kapama River Lodge.