It was a slightly cloudy day as we set out on our early morning game drive. Tracker Sersant, our guests and I had planned to try and track down the Tamboti female leopard, in the hope that she might be with her 13-month old cub. We thought there was a good chance of finding her as the previous morning she had killed a common duiker and had fed on it throughout the day. We didn’t think that she would move too far from the kill as she would most likely be fairly full by the next morning.

Fresh pug marks led us away from the kill site, downstream in a nearby dry riverbed. The tracks of both mother and daughter headed out of the drainage line to the west, back towards where the mother had stashed the cubs a number of times in recent weeks. We drove some of the surrounding roads but as it had rained in the early hours of the morning, some of the fainter signs had been washed away. After about an hour of searching, my hopes were starting to fade a little.

We decided to switch the vehicle off, just to listen for a few minutes and see if we could hear any alarm calls. After only a few minutes we heard some tree squirrels alarming, but knowing how squirrels can alarm for many different reasons, not just leopards, we didn’t want to jump to conclusions. We headed towards where the squirrels were chattering shrilly, and suddenly Sersant spun round with a big grin, pointing to the thicket line and exclaiming, “Leopard, leopard, leopard!”

Tamboti Blog 2 Of 3

A moment between mother and cub in the sands of a deep drainage line.

It was exactly the leopards we were looking for; the Tamboti female and her cub.

No matter how many times a guest has visited the African wilderness or how many years a guide has spent in the bush; we all know to see a leopard in the wild is a magical experience. Yet to see a female and cub in the wild is on a different level of incredible.

Tamboti Blog 1 Of 3

The cub approaches down a small game path.

We followed the pair for well over an hour as they moved through a few thickets and open grasslands. They were heading in the direction on a prominent water hole, but just before reaching it, decided instead to drink from a shallow pan containing some much cleaner rain water. Realising that for the first time in my seven years as a guide I might have the opportunity to photograph a mother leopard drinking alongside her cub, I positioned accordingly, on the far side of the pan to where the leopards were approaching. My guests could see the excitement in my smile as I knew that today could be the moment I have been waiting for.

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A moment I’ve been waiting the better part of a decade for. Frozen in time.

The stars aligned and the leopards went to the water exactly where we had hoped. We watched as they finished drinking and then moved off into a thicket, and our sighting was complete.
There was no way the morning could improve from there, so we left the two cats to move off into the undergrowth, content in the knowledge that we had just had as successful a game drive as we could have hoped for.,

Filed under Leopards Wildlife

24 Comments

on A 7-Year Wait for a Photograph

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Marinda Drake

Stunning image Grant. We were fortunate to view the Tambotie female and her cub last year. She has grown quite a lot.

Grant Rodewijk

Thanks Marinda. You are very lucky to have been able to witness them together. She is growing up fast as she nears that age of independence.

Ian Hall

I fully understand how you can spend years waiting for one photo, I have spent quarter of a century waiting for my caracal …

Constance Dillon

Grant, this is a wondrous story and the photos are incomparable! I can almost hear/feel your excitement. Well done!!

Grant Rodewijk

Thanks Constance!!! It was a really special moment for me. Hope you are keeping well!

Vin Beni

Fantastic image of a rare sighting!
Reminiscent of one of mine featured by Kyrie:
http://blog.londolozi.com/2017/06/24/guest-photography-highlights-part-2/

Marinda Drake

Just had a look. Stunning image of the Ndzanzeni female.

Mary Beth Wheeler

Tamboti was pregnant with this cub when we last saw her. So looking forward to seeing them both next Monday month!

Vicky

Congratulations! That is a brilliant photo. Well worth the wait.

Darlene Knott

Wonderful sighting! Fantastic photos. What a thrilling day you all had. Thanks for sharing.

Gillian Evans

Congratulations!! Patience paid off! Great blog Grant and very special photo of the Tamboti female and her cub at the end! – the stars do sometimes align in the most spectacular way!!

Wendy Macnicol

Congratulations, Grant! Beautiful pics of the Mom and youngster! A very special moment for you and your guests too. Wendy M

Denise Vouri

That’s a wrap! What an amazing photo and experience Grant. I’m so happy for you and only hope on my next trip to RSA, I’ll have your luck.

Al Kaiser

Well worth the wait!!

Joanne Wadsworth

What stunning images! I can’t imagine your elation when your dream became a reality. That game drive was perfection….literally. Congrats, Grant!

Grant Rodewijk

Thanks Joanna. It really was a spectacular moment!!!! A moment I’ll never forget.

Jeff Rodgers

Congratulations on the world-class image. How did you achieve the low angle shot?

Grant Rodewijk

Thanks Jeff. We were just very lucky with where the angle of the vehicle was position and where we the leopards would drinks.

Una Sneedon

I lived the moment with you..thank you for sharing. Una Sneedon

Callum Evans

Spectacular photo, looks like it was 100% worth the wait!

Jacobus Verster

Glad you finally managed to finally take it “Rudi” 🙂

Linda Bangs

Grant! Fabulous picture! I saw this cub the first day she was alone without her brother! She is growing up fast! Thank you!

Susan Strauss

Congratulations!! They are a magical pair. I remember sitting with them last November together!!

Lauren Coape-Arnold

Amazing blog and photos, Grant – I have no doubt your incredible intuition helped the dream became reality!

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