LIVE UPDATE from our Big Cat Photo Safari to Sabi Sand, South Africa.
By Specialist Photographic Guides Villiers Steyn & Lance van de Vyver.
Yesterday afternoon we headed out and decided to try and relocate Thandi and her cub Tlalamba. They had been seen in the morning around the Torchwood Camp and we started our search in that area. We were soon alerted to the presence of a leopard by the alarm calls of monkeys. We then found male leopard tracks and wondered if these were made by male leopard Quarantine. We hoped not as Tlalamba could potentially be in danger from Quarantine.
After some further searching we finally bumped into some leopards. There were three of them in one sighting- Tingana, Thandi and Tlalamba. What an amazing find and sighting. The three of them proceeded to put on an amazing show next to us.
Tingana called right next to our vehicles about 5 times. Thandi and Tlalamba played. Tlalamba investigated Tingana and was growled at. Tingana chased Thandi up a tree. Tlalamba raced up a tree. Each of the leopards took turns posing on a termite mound. It was just amazing and everyone soaked it up and captured an array of images of the special scene. It was a family affair and amazing to witness.
As it became dark, we left the leopards and stopped on first rock for a well-deserved sun downer and celebration together. We headed back to camp for dinner, feeling a mixture of awe, shock, joy and emotion at what we had seen.
Having had such a fantastic leopard sighting yesterday evening, we decided to search for lions this morning. This would also mean driving through an area that we have not yet driven. We headed north into Buffelshoek and then east through the traverse. It was another mystically misty morning. We soon found lion tracks and followed them. The tracks were of both females and a male/s.
Along the way we saw some general game such as zebra, wildebeest and waterbuck. The tracks crossed here and there and we unfortunately lost them across the boundary. We then heard about a male leopard that had crossed into our traverse and headed in that direction. Along the way we found some fresh lion tracks and followed up. Not ten minutes later we found the entire Torchwood Pride. They were all lying/sitting in the sun with their heads up and provided everyone with some great opportunities to get some images of them in the fantastic light.
After spending some time with the lions we headed nearby for a coffee stop and some group photos before making our way back to camp for brunch. To our collective joy, male leopard Hosana was still visible from camp, lying right in some grassy shade busy digesting his recent kill. The last 24 hours seeing Tingana, Thandi, Tlalamba and the Torchwood pride has been spectacular.