Sunday, 6 July 2014

Leopard: Photo essay.

Leopards are one of the most widespread of the big cats. Found across most of Africa, formerly over much of the Middle East (where now rare, endangered & fragmented populations exist) & into Asia. Despite being found in many different habitats, from high mountains, both temperate & tropical forests through to savannahs & deserts, it is not often seen. It has the uncanny ability to exist, often in close proximity to humans, undetected.
I am lucky because my house is along the Sabie River, which has one of the densest populations of Leopards in the world! Sightings are always unpredictable & exciting! On this last trip of a months duration we enjoyed nine different sightings, of which seven were close to home.
 Male, on the Diospane Road, mid-afternoon.

 We enjoyed prolonged views,
 over a 20 minute period.

 He knew we were there, but he was very relaxed.



All these photos are of the same individual.
On leaving the park, we had another Leopard sat high in a tree with prey (probably an Impala). However, it was too dark to get any photos. A two Leopard day! Wow!
The very next day (29th June) we were driving the loop road near our house, when a large male Leopard crossed the track heading for the river. He disappeared quickly, but was the male that has held territory here for many years now. Not 400m later we came across this female sat in sand in a little creek bed! She was quite relaxed, but it was getting very dark!

All photos taken at ISO 4200!

We eventually had to leave her as the park gates were closing. Four leopards in two days! What is going on?

A few days later, we were driving the Timbavati River Road in the central part of the park, when we came across this very old but still regal, male Leopard.
It was mid-afternoon, but still quite hot
 & he was feeling lazy!

A little snooze perhaps?

It is all too much effort!

 The male Leopard was mating ever few minutes
 with a female which was largely hidden.
Towards the end of our holiday, we heard in Sabie Park, that a pair of Leopards were mating on the other side of the river from the picnic site. We arrived as fast as we could,, but they had retreated into the bush. However, they still continued to mate every few minutes, with much growling & snarling! The photos are terrible, but it is not everyday that you see leopards mating!

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