BY TREVOR MCCALL-PEAT & VILLIERS STEYN
This morning we headed out in search of the cheetah we had seen on the other side of the Mayeleti boundary yesterday. We searched for over an hour before we found some tracks heading back into the Sabi Sands. We circled the block and realised that the cheetah must be inside the block. We then went off-road to see what we could find.
We found the mother cheetah with her three cubs resting on a termite mound. The light was gorgeous. They then moved down into the open and used logs and fallen trees as vantage points. This was excellent for photography and all our guests got some very special images of the four endangered cats. The mother cheetah moved onto a termite mound and suddenly a small steenbok appeared. She immediately went into hunting mode and was soon bolting after the small antelope. Crash! She caught the steenbok and held it in her mouth as it kicked around. The cubs came steaming in after her. She took it into some thicker vegetation and killed it before she began feeding. At this point we decided to leave her be and went for a coffee break nearby before heading back to camp.
After breakfast our guests enjoyed one on one Lightroom tuition which was thoroughly enjoyed and highly productive. After a light lunch we headed back on drive.
We decided to head east and soon bumped into a large breeding herd of buffalo. This was the first such herd we had seen over the last 8 days and it was very exciting to get some images of the various different individuals and ox-peckers on their bodies.
We left the buffalo and headed further east. As if out of nowhere, a leopard popped into the road in front of us. It was a female called Thandi. The excitement of a sighting like this was palpable. Right place, right time. We followed her along as she began contact calling. We knew she had a young male cub but could not see him. Suddenly he came bursting out of the bush and warmly greeted his mother.
The two leopards set off with intent and we followed along. Thandi arrived at a kill she had made, a young waterbuck. She fed alone and each time the youngster tried to get a bite, she growled and hissed at him. All of a sudden, a hyena came thundering onto the scene and stole the kill in a blur of leopards and spots.
We watched intently as a standoff began with the leopards getting just meters from the hyena before being chased off. After spending a long period of time with them we headed to a nearby dam for sundowners where we chatted about the sighting and shared our experience.
We then headed back towards the lodge, not 300 meters from camp we bumped into 2 female lions who were stalking Impala near the waterhole in front of the lodge. They were unsuccessful and stopped for a quick drink. Having had an unbelievable day out we decided to head home for a traditional South African braai and campfire. Tomorrow is our final day of the Big Cat Photo Safari before we bid our guests farewell.