We had more leopard sightings in our four days at Camp Moremi in Botswana than I have seen in all my other eight Africa trips combined. During the daytime leopards like to rest in a tree, hunting under the cover of darkness at night. Apparently the leopards we saw did not know this, because they were quite active during the daytime, and gave us some great photographic opportunities. Below are a few of the 100’s of photos I have of them active during the daytime.
Before you can photograph a leopard you need to find it, usually hidden in a tree. They know how to blend in, and are not easy to spot. Spotting a leopard hidden behind the branches of a tree is one of the more ultimate wildlife photography challenges. This is where the guides earn their keep!
Do you see a leopard in the tree below?
Look for a tail or leg dangling down from a branch
Maybe this will help
It is looking to the left, with its left leg dangling down
We could see his injured nose when he stood up
It’s a large male, with an injured ear besides nose
After a brief glance at us he continued his nap
The following photos are of a female that seemed to pose for us on the several days we saw her. She seemed comfortable in our presence, and would walk around our vehicle just a few feet away from us. One day she even let us join her as she was on the prowl for her dinner.
One lucky day for us she climbed down from her perch and started eating some grass, which promptly caused her to vomit. Our guide said this means she is on the hunt.
She started eating the grass as soon as she hit the ground
As she roamed the area she walked right past, acting as if we didn’t exist
There were some gazelle off to our left, so we thought she might be interested in them
She seemed to change her mind and went the opposite direction
At times she was no more than seven feet in front of us
She seemed to know we were taking her photo, and would stop and pose for a few seconds to oblige us. It was uncanny!
After our last photo op she noticed something on a log to our right
Our guide said it was a squirrel she was interested in
Why would a predator as powerful as this, that could take down a large gazelle and drag it up a tree with the gazelle in its mouth, hunt a squirrel? Maybe it was a challenge, maybe it was fun, maybe she needed a little energy pick-me-up before attempting larger prey, or maybe even because these cats have such powerful hunting instincts that they can’t resist something that moves. Nobody knows.
Over the next 30 minutes this leopard entertained us as she tried to find the squirrel that was sometimes hiding and sometimes scurrying. Here are a few photos taken of this show. First she scurries around the log showing her amazing agility as she tries to find the squirrel, then she bolts down the log exhibiting her amazing speed. Does the squirrel get away, or does she have an appetizer before her evening meal?
One last look of her smacking her lips as we left her alone and drove away
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