The bush always rewards patience and perseverance. The inclement weather we had endured had finally moved away. We decided to head straight to Tingana and found him in an even worse position than yesterday morning. We quickly decided to move on and checked Buffelshoek Dam. Unbelievably, we found a large breeding herd of elephants arriving at the waterhole. We were well positioned on the dam wall as the elephants walked in single file below us and proceeded to line up on the water’s edge and drink. This was easily one of the best photographic elephant sightings we have had in a while. The opportunities for stunning wide angle shots presented themselves and our Photographic Guides assisted guests to capture these wonderful images.
We then received a call that Xidulu, a young female leopard, was found roughly 400 meters from camp and headed to her. We arrived and found her crossing the large open area behind camp. We then proceeded to spend the next 90 uninterrupted and unbelievable minutes with her. The photographic opportunities were mind-blowing. She climbed into a tree and posed in some exquisite light for us. Our Photographic Guides had prepared our guests with camera settings for potential jumping shots and they were ready to capture the moment (some even brave enough to attempt panning shots).
Xidulu then headed high into the tree before almost racing down and leaping to the ground where we soon discovered she had a steenbok carcass. She gorged herself before picking up the carcass and moving towards another far away Marula tree. We expertly repositioned and managed to get some shots of her moving towards us with the steenbok in her mouth.
When she reached the Marula tree she paused and then jumped into it, this time with the carcass in her mouth, and stashed it in the tree. We witnessed the raw strength and power of this stunning leopardess. She then cleaned herself before settling down in a beautiful pose on a branch. We could then get some beautiful shots of her both in daylight and then using a soft spotlight. With everyone’s minds thoroughly blown and memory cards sufficiently full, we headed a few hundred meters away for a celebratory drink. We then made the short drive back to camp for dinner.
This morning we headed back to Xidulu. She was not in the tree but the steenbok carcass was still hanging there, almost finished. We noticed a jacket in the tree. We quickly realized that one of our guest’s missing jackets must have fallen off the vehicle in the sighting yesterday. Xidulu had then hoisted it into the tree.We then found Xidulu nearby. She was delightful and resting in the tall grass. She yawned and rolled around like a house cat. Xidulu then headed to the tree and jumped up into the branches and lay with her new jacket. She chewed on it for a while before she had an explosion of energy and playfully bound from branch to branch in the tree, chasing hornbills and acting like a kitten. It was fantastic to put our camera’s down and soak in this amazing display. She then grabbed her steenbok carcass, hopped out of the tree, and went to some thickets were we decided to leave her to finish her meal.
We headed north to the open areas to scratch around and see what we could find. The bush was very quiet and we soon stopped for coffee and reminisced about the trip. Six of our guests are leaving today and another six guests will be arriving after midday. On the way back to camp we bumped into Thandi with her cub. They were in very long grass on a fresh kill and we decided to give them space and not follow them. This is where we plan to start our afternoon drive later today. It has been a wonderful 5 days for our first group of guests and we bid them farewell as new friends.
Join us on #BigCatPhotoSafari in 2018/2019!