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BLOG April 3, 2008

Amazing Leopard sighting!

Volunteers watch a Leopard Kill at Tuli

It was an hour or so after sunrise on Friday March 28th and without a cloud in the sky it was already beginning to get hot. As we drove towards the north of the property, no one could have predicted what was to happen shortly. Andy spotted a leopard as it headed into the bush from the road and we drove slowly up in the Landy hoping to get enough of a gap in the vegetation for another glimpse. As we approached we saw her sitting on a rock probably 30m from the vehicle staring right at us. We could hardly believe it, the odds of finding her again in the thick bush had been minimal. For about thirty seconds she stayed there watching us as intently as we watched her, allowing us to get some phenomenal identification photos.  Then she slowly turned around and headed up the koppie and again into the vegetation. Aghast and ecstatic we crept around in the vehicle- surely there was no chance of seeing her for a third time?!

Incredibly we found her again sitting under a tree a little further up the koppie and she sat there for a few more seconds before running off. Although it had been a truly amazing sighting, we all felt saddened for a moment believing that we had startled her … it turned out we hadn’t! She jumped into a patch of long grass which was followed by some loud, high pitch squeals as a dassie emerged jumping down the rocks in our direction, followed almost simultaneously by the leopard reappearing with a large dassie firmly clasped in between her jaws. She stood again and looked at us for a few seconds, the dassie protruding from her mouth plain for all to see, before climbing up and out of sight slowly and for a final time.

We sat, silent initially, as it began to dawn on us what we had just witnessed. This was something that no one would ever surely see outside of their television screen- an entirely wild and free leopard making a successful kill! We all felt overwhelmingly privileged to have been there and it is something that none of us will ever  forget.

Text by Andy, Oli, Dave, Will, Jenny and Heather.   Photo by Heather.

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