Leopards: little and large

26th May
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My first great safari "spot" was in Etosha in 2001.  Eyes, tired after several hours of scanning the distance for game, finally dropped and I started staring pointlessly at the sand an

My first great safari "spot" was in Etosha in 2001.  Eyes, tired after several hours of scanning the distance for game, finally dropped and I started staring pointlessly at the sand and speckled stones by the side of the track that we were trundling down.  As we passed by, I had seconds to realise that one of the stones had legs and a head.  By the time I had shouted and the truck had stopped, we had travelled quite a few yards further down.  Slowly the truck reversed, with everyone on board scanning the stones.  The further we reversed, the more embarrassed I became as it seemed clear that my weary eyes had been hallucinating.  Until, just as we were on the point of giving up, someone else spotted a pebble with legs and a head.  There it was, a leopard tortoise.

Three years, several safaris and no leopards later, I was in Nakuru NP in Kenya, still seeking to bag the elusive last member of the big five.  It was the end of a long day.  We had just stopped to watch some dassies, one of my favourite animals, playing, and were on our way to make the exit gate by sunset.  Driving through a wooded area, my eyes dropped again, staring at the bushes and dirt at the base of the trees.  Suddenly, I was staring directly into a pair of, terrifying close, smouldering dark eyes.  The leopard was standing right by the side of the narrow track and had been completely missed by the guide who was looking for leopards up in the trees.  Alas, it was too dark for my photos to come out as anything more than a spotty blur but those eyes have been burnt into my memory forever.

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  • 26th May by emmawatkins

    The thrill of seeing leopards will never cease for me. I have been very lucky and have seen several, One walking along the road in Kruger, one up a tree in Etosha, but by far the most amazing was a mother and her grown up cub in Chobe. We have just driven into the park and it was still pretty dark, when suddenly, there they were .... just sitting in a clearing. The cub played around for a while while the mother seemed to get fed up with following it about! My photos were rubbish due to the lack of light, but I managed to get a couple of short videos of the pair - have a look they are on here!

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