Have you ever visited a game reserve and had one of those days when you drive around for hours and see very little in the way of animals? We had such a morning on a visit to the Kruger National Park this month. Being early February it was oppressively hot and all sensible animals and birds were sheltering in deep shade out of sight. After about five hours of driving along the Crocodile River Road and seeing very little other than birds, we decided to go three kilometers further and then turn around and head back to our camp at Berg-en-Dal. It was at this point that I slowed the car right down to look into an interesting tree and I spotted a leopard climbing up the trunk. Rob was on the passenger side where the leopard was and his camera was ready.
What a bonus this sighting was, as leopards are nocturnal and definitely the most elusive of the Big 5 animals.
This particular leopard was not terribly happy about us stopping so close by and only remained in the tree for about a minute before climbing down and disappearing into a thick wooded area where it was quickly lost to view.
The whole encounter was over in a flash, but it left us very excited and feeling extremely privileged to have had the sighting all to ourselves. All too often you have to vie with numerous other people to see an animal and sometimes you miss being in the perfect place for a photograph. We were just so lucky!
Leopards prefer dense, riparian vegetation, which makes spotting them rather difficult if they aren’t actually walking along the road. If they are walking away from you, it isn’t the ideal way to photograph them as you can see.
We’ve had a few sightings of leopards in the wild over the years, but this has to have been the most exciting one yet. Well done to Rob for capturing some lovely shots of this beautiful animal.