Finding the very secretive leopard is not very easy…Most of the time it is just luck that allows you to find it. But the last week luck has been on my side. I was fortunate enough to find 8 leopards in 4days:
The 1st leopard that we saw was an old male having a bit of a rest in a river bed…To me it was a typical place to find a leopard. It was a fantastic sighting.
The 2nd time we were busy watching some giraffes’ when I saw something in the road ahead, it was a female with 2 small cubs of about 2 – 3 months old. She sat there for a few minutes and then walked off the road into very thick bush.
The 3rd sighting was the next drive, I heard about a very relaxed male close by to where I had stopped for sundowners. When we got to the leopard, he was lying in the grass right next to the road. He was so relaxed with us being there, just lying in the open and just lifting up his head when ever he heard a sound. (See photo below)
The 4th one was on the way back to the lodge from the sighting above (3rd sighting), as we were driving my tracker Steven saw a male leopard running across the road. As we drove closer we just saw him briefly next to the road where he then ran off into the bushes.
The 5th sighting was the next morning. As we were driving along Steven saw some fresh leopard tracks on the road. We followed the tracks for about 500m and there she was right next to the road. We watched her for a short period when she moved into the bushes.
The 6th sighting was this morning… Steven again saw some fresh leopard tracks crossing the road; we followed them and made a loop back to where we had first seen the tracks. To my amazement I saw that the leopard had walked on top of my tyre tracks where we just past a few minutes earlier. We again followed the tracks and found the female leopard busy stalking some warthogs. She unfortunately missed the warthogs.
Being lucky enough to see all of these leopards just made me realize just how unpredictable the bush is and that you never know what awaits you around the next corner!!!!!
Stefan de Weerd-Kapama River Lodge Ranger
Very often as rangers and trackers we are so busy working to enhance our guests’ safari experience that we very seldom have time to capture any memories of our own. Many rangers are very much involved in their photography being that we live amongst some of the most beautiful creatures on earth. But most photographs are not of ourselves but of the wildlife in front of us. Unlike our guests who come to Africa to experience the holiday of a lifetime, we are still working, regardless of how amazing our work is. We cannot stop to take as many photographs as we’d like as we are busy providing information or intently watching for behavioral changes. As much as we love our work and strive to be out in the wild as much as possible, we so seldom have anything to show for it.
This is where our guests come in. Many times our guests are snapping away with their cameras while we are explaining certain things or watching contently in silence. Guests very often include the ranger and tracker in their photographs without us knowing. The best reward of our job is arriving at work to check your e-mails and find that a previous visitor of Kapama has send through some memories of their stay in Africa. To see so many different photographs of ourselves doing what we love and out in the environment having sun-downers with the perfect background setting is a reward no ranger would say no to.
So, as rangers and trackers, we invite you to provide us with feedback and possibly photographs of your stay with us at Kapama as it gives us the motivation to keep providing you with an experience of a lifetime.
Cindy – Kapama River Lodge
To those fellow rangers out there, we all know that being a guide can be fun and exciting but at the same time can be a serious pressure. First and foremost the pressure of working with animals that are potentially very dangerous while people lives are in your hands can make a ranger snap. One wrong move from a ranger can put many people in serious trouble. We permanently have to be alert and vigilant regarding the animal’s movements and behavioral changes. Also very often you get guests who visit various nature reserves around the world on a regular basis and the pressure to compete with world class rangers can be tough.
It was one of those mornings. My South African, French and Spanish guests were on their last drive before checking out and leaving Kapama. They had requested “The best game drive ever!” I was suddenly placed under pressure to fulfill their request and make their stay at Kapama River Lodge one to remember. I had no idea where I was going to begin. As I drove from the lodge I began to plan my drive and exactly what I was going to focus my attention on. On exiting the lodge I was lucky enough to find that the cheetahs had crossed the road not to long ago and we began our tracking. It took us about an hour and a half to finally locate them in which time we had been blessed with many sightings of beautiful birds, insects and close ups of most of our plains game. The pressure managed to ease. As we watched the cheetah, we noticed a very sudden behaviour change. They suddenly seemed focused and concentrated, ears perked up and eyes fixed in one direction. Nearby was a large herd of Impala oblivious to their presence heading their way. They started to stalk, sneaking off in opposite directions to surround the herd. The silent communication between these two cheetahs was exhilarating to witness. It was a very short stalk as three minutes later they sprang into action and started to chase the Impala. We watched in awe as the chaos unfolded in front of us. The apparent communication between the two could not have been too well planned as suddenly both cheetahs each stood clutching their own Impala between their jaws. Whether this was planned or pure chance we’ll never know. My guests were over the moon to say the least and truly believed that had had the ‘best game drive ever’.
At the end of the day, all dreams became reality. My guests were satisfied with their African safari experience and the pressure on me was lifted. What a day in Africa.
Tinyiko – Kapama River Lodge