Wednesday, 4 May 2011

03rd May – Reversal of Fortunes!

Photo of the Day
Gama female's cub - wonderfully relaxed!
Daily Synopsis
I know that Grant has already posted a great blog about today, but just thought I would share a few of my pics with you all; was great to find a reason to pick up my camera again after the last few days!  Was quite interesting to note how different a drive on the opposite side of a riverbed could be!

Breeding herd of elephants, red-billed oxpeckers and a rare yellow-billed oxpecker on a buffalo herd
No use complaining; although I was a bit bummed to miss the wild dogs after hearing of Grant’s sighting, it was really special to spend most of the afternoon with some new friends!  Indeed, an infatuation has started, and it won’t be the last time I go looking for that leap of leopards! 
It was the Gama female (a newly christened female) and one of her cubs, seemingly the young male.  My tracker had seen her tracks walking along buffalo kill, but from much earlier in the day.  We were watching some zebras and pulled forward to see some ahead of us when Petros suddenly flung his arm up to point out something.  He whispered “ingwe!”.  I was shocked, and could hardly see the thing, but looked through my binoculars and saw it!  Wow, a stroke of luck, just a pity it was a nervous leopard...or so I thought.  At the same time, a pack of wild dogs that had been found earlier in the afternoon moved onto our property, so I was torn between a skittish, unknown leopard and a pack of wild dogs. 
I was about to leave the leopard without even attempting to go closer when a second leopard popped out of the bushes and it suddenly dawned on me who I was looking at; it was the same “new” female from last week, Gama mfazi!  I decided to go closer and see what would happen.  The mother disappeared behind the bushes, but the cub stayed put.  After a few minutes I moved closer, and all he did was watch me without cowering, and carried on as if we weren’t there, watching the buffalo bull on the opposite bank.

A slow, cautious approach ensured an excellent sighting of this beautiful leopard!
Eventually we ended up about 15m away, the cub still unmoved, and it was then that we noticed an impala leg lying next to the Land Rover, and then we noticed the rest of the impala hidden in the bushes nearby!

Beautiful leopard cub!
We spent close to an hour watching as he lay there, which gave Grant enough time to go and see the wild dogs and still come see the leopard before it got dark.
We enjoy drinks just after sunset with a herd of giraffe and impala on Java Airstrip, then to an awesome dinner in the middle of the bush, with a sighting of Kuhanya female leopard  and an elephant bull on the way home to round off the evening wonderfully!
Amazing how a stroke of luck (and skill on Petros’s behalf) can change a day!

Elephant and hippos at Sohebele Dam...not pictured: the breeding herd of buffalo and buffalo bulls we saw on the staff bumble, or the two leopards at Sohebele Dam we missed out on as we had our radio off! Oops!

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