Up again at the crack of dawn, we were ready to go at 6am even though it was still dark. But it was an hour’s drive to the leopard, so we left in the dark hoping to be one of the first at the leopard. In the end, we were the second car to be on the scene, the other being a guided tour vehicle with one guy with a massive lens – he no doubt had the same idea as us.
The leopard was still in the same position sleeping although we could see he had eaten a bit of the gazelle in the night. So we settled in with our coffee to wait him out in the hopes that he would get up to eat. Soon enough we thought we’d get some excitement when a spotted hyena arrived, seeming to have smelt the kill, but left soon after.
An hour, an entertaining lilac-breasted roller
and more cars later, he started to move around, and eventually got up and moved
towards the kill. He actually lay over
the gazelle and started plucking the fur, an interesting sight to see. Finally, he started to eat from the back and
we were in the perfect position to photograph it in nice morning light. (Even the guy with the big camera didn’t have
as good a position as ours ;))
He spent a long time eating, even dropping a bit
of the insides onto the ground and we happily photographed, videoed and watched
him eat – it helped that our decision this morning had been right and went some
way to making up for the wrong decisions we’d made yesterday ;)
After an hour of eating, he went back to his
branch and lay down again, and looked like he was drifting off to sleep
again. We were planning to wait him out
for a bit longer, but then we noticed that the big lens photographer was
|Keeping an eye on the leopard|
|And a bit more...|
Now this is always a dilemma for us as we’re not hooked up on radio so have no idea of the potential sightings out there. So we were in a quandary but figured that is a man with a big lens – obviously a professional or very serious amateur – was prepared to leave a leopard with a kill in a tree, there must be something good out there. So we decided we’d follow them and hope that it wasn’t just that he needed to get to the airstrip in time to get his flight out ;)
|Was he leaving?|
Before we left, Dru just wanted to move forward a bit as he could get a nice clear shot of the leopard’s face, but just after the photos were taken, the leopard decided to get up again and get down the tree – so our quandary had now been solved – stay put!
Unfortunately, we weren’t in a good position as he got down on the opposite side of the tree, but we were glad we weren’t on that side otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to catch him eating.
The leopard got down and stared into the plains, before heading that way. He looked like he would just disappear and many of the cars figured the same, as they started to move off, but we weren’t going anywhere just in case he came back.
And he did – hoorah! He slowly made his way back and then headed around the tree and straight towards our car, for us to get nice head on shots. He stopped under the tree and started eating the bits and pieces of gazelle that he’d dropped when eating. We were in the perfect position to photograph this while he ate facing us. Having finished most of it, he did what most cats do – he started covering it up with dirt; we assume that this was to hide the scent from other predators.
Done with his impromptu walkabout, he lay down
at the base of the tree keeping his back to the road and staring in the
veld. We figured sooner or later he’d
get back up so decided to wait a bit longer.
|Covering up his meal|
We were just joking that we needed a hyena to come around now, when someone from another car said “Look, a hyena!” Sure enough, a hyena appeared from the veld, and was slowly heading towards the leopard. The leopard didn’t appear to have seen him, neither had the hyena seen the leopard. They finally spotted each other, but it appeared that the hyena wasn’t prepared to take on the leopard by himself because he soon slunk off and disappeared between the cars and into the ravine.
The leopard meanwhile had decided that it would
be better to be back up in the tree, so jumped up into the branches, but not
before laying down in the fork of the tree and staring straight at us –
awesome! It was then up onto one branch
before lying down for a while, not being happy with that position, jumping to
the next branch, before ending up in the same position that we’d found him when
we’d got there about 3 hours ago.
|Posing nicely for us|
We debated what to do and decided that we’d seen everything that we’d wanted to, and it was all in very good light. By now it was almost 10am and the light was harsh, any more photos would probably not be nearly as good as what we’d seen in the morning. So, very satisfied with our morning sighting, we decided to leave him to sleep and head to the visitors’ centre.
Because we’d got back to camp late the previous
night, we hadn’t been able to put diesel in the car, so we wanted to buy some
diesel at the fuel stop before heading further than the immediate Seronera
area. A quick stop at the visitors’
centre when we had a brunch of biscotti and bananas, we stopped to buy fuel
before heading to near Mawe Meupe again, still in the hopes of catching the
|Hippos in a row|
Unfortunately, although he was close to the road, he was in a bad position for shooting as not many cars could get a good sighting at once, so you had to wait in a queue to get a quick shot. We decided to leave him, and instead take the scenic route towards Lake Magadi after hearing that no one had seen the cheetahs in the morning.
|Not a great sighting, but our own leopard!|
We stopped and had lunch there while waiting for him to get down or move into a better position, but by the time we’d finished eating he hadn’t moved, and we decided to leave him.
|Young leopard asleep|
|Something attracted his attention|
|Lesser flamingos feeding|
|Close up feeding|
|Olive baboon youngster hitching a ride|
This called for a repacking of our car, so that we could access the most used stuff from the back seat – all in all, it took us an hour to get repacked and sorted – luckily we were back when there was still light as doing this in the dark would have been a nightmare, especially since there were a few dagga boys (old male buffaloes) hanging around close to our camp.
|Cape buffalo with yellow-billed oxpecker|
|Look closely - a leopard, a kill and a hyena|
- what you dream about in the Serengeti!
Day 5: Chasing after cheetahs >>