The Big Five…
Everyone who goes on safari in Africa lusts for the Big Five – Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Rhinoceros and Cape Buffalo. These are considered to be the most dangerous animals in Africa and safari goers are eager to check them off their list one-by-one. Of these, the leopard is the most difficult to see. Many people go on safari for a week and never see a leopard because of their nocturnal and secretive nature – it ends up being the one blemish on their safari card. For a photographer, it’s even more difficult because photographing wildlife in low light conditions is very tricky. Just seeing a leopard is a reason to cheer, just getting “a photo” is a reason to celebrate, and capturing a really good photograph is a reason to do the jiggy dance!
In September of 2015 we visited the Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa – part of the greater Kruger National Park area. Sabi Sands is known for its higher-than-normal concentration of leopards. To increase our chances of seeing a leopard a bit more, even if only psychologically, we stayed at a safari lodge called Leopard Hills :). We had the cat in the bag, right?
Well, Sabi Sands and Leopard Hills did not disappoint! We had the most amazing leopard encounters during our one week stay. We did a lot of jiggy dancing! On our very first game drive, we had two incredible leopard encounters. The first was a mother and the cutest leopard cub you could imagine (watch for a blog post about mom and cub in the near future).
Then we had a second encounter that same evening – even our game driver, Hugo, was shaking his head in disbelief at our luck. We got a tip about a leopard sighting in the area so we sped off in the Land Rover in search of it. When we got to the area, the light was already starting to fade, but we scanned the surroundings and eventually spotted the leopard. She had dragged her recent kill high up in a tree for safekeeping and she had obviously filled her belly to the point of satisfaction. After a big meal, it’s always a good idea to take a nap, and that’s when we captured this image. She was up in the tree, close to her kill, taking a rest on a branch.
I Did, I Did Taw a Puddy Tat!
Marcy & Ray Stader