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Phinda Wildlife Research Project: 28 November - 12 December 2023*  

Floris Behnke: close-up of a leopard

Leopard sighting at Tuli!

When we were asked to pick an activity for our final weekend at Tuli, we decided that it was time for a “real” sleepout, no walls in sight. We prepared for the adventure by getting our roll mats, sleeping bags and snacks together. We headed out deep into the study area of Tuli to an area of stunning beauty, aptly named pride rock, a la lion king! We collected our firewood and chatted excitedly about the night ahead. Once we were almost ready, Stuart left to go and collect Annaliene who was kindly providing dinner, from the house. In the meantime the remainder of us made a move to climb and watch the African sun set from the top of pride rock for one last final time. Suddenly, just as we were to begin our climb, we turned round to see Stuart in full speed reverse, frantically signaling for us to get into the landi. A James-Bond–style run towards the car ensued with all of us wondering what the fuss was about. “LEOPARD” was Stuart’s reply! As we drove forwards, just 100 yards, and looked up towards pride rock, there sat George the leopard- a regular in Kwa-Tuli staring right back down at us. He had most probably been watching us the whole time! We sat watching him as the sun began to set, eagerly waiting his next move. As quick as lightning, he climbed over the side of the Kopje and out of sight. Clinging on for dear life, a speedy drive began and soon, after Hannah hastened the chase by dropping her camera, and, with some very skillful tracking by Sam, we found him again, prowling sleekly through the bushes. From here he allowed us to follow him for an hour and ten minutes of simply amazing leopard study. He came close to the vehicle a number of times and displayed some very relaxed behaviour, even taking some time out to sit down and watch us too! We decided to leave him to continue on his night’s hunting and so headed off to devour our eagerly awaited sleepout dinner. It was an unforgettable start to the final weekend of our wonderful Tuli experience.

Thank you for the time of my life!