Leopards and cheetahs

We are on the way before sunrise today! Nicely settled into spacious game viewing vehicles with a local Okonjima driver/guide in each, we head off to track for leopards. Leopards tend to be active early, so it is better to be tracking first thing. Using radio telemetry devices, we are looking for a signal from any of the 10+ collared leopards in the Okonjima Reserve. We’ve spread out in four game viewing vehicles and each guide is doing their best to follow a signal. It proves difficult, with our first leopard going up the mountainside beyond access, and the second leopard disappearing into thick bush after only a glimpse. Finally, one of our cars discovers a leopard with two cubs. All of us manage some excellent views, although this involves some amazing driving by our local guides. Trees and bushes get in our way, but we even manage to prune some of these on route, to allow for better access. The leopards are initially on a kill, and then some of us see a brown hyaena approach, at which point the female leopard and one cub runs off, and the other cub jumps up a tree. Quite a sight, and we come back to the lodge brunch all rather satisfied.

After siesta, we re-join our local guides and take a short drive to the AfriCat HQ. Here we learn about the work of the charitable foundation, and see the surgery and display rooms. As a surprise treat, we visit a hide to see a most beautiful leopard up-close. This is Lewa, a leopard literally rescued from the womb when her mother was shot, and subsequently brought up in captivity. Lewa is not able to be released, but is now a big part of AfriCat’s educational programme, and she enjoys her own private reserve. It’s a real privilege and treat to see and photograph Lewa so close. As is that is not enough, we are also treated to seeing some cheetahs in a nearby rehabilitation enclosure.

What an amazing day.