The past seven days have produced some amazing sightings of leopard and I was fortunate enough to witness quite a number of them. From a photographic point of view, they were extremely co-operative, going about their business in some beautiful light and surroundings. Hopefully some of the photos below do some justice to another fabulous week!
The Short Tail Male looks back over his shoulder towards a disturbance somewhere in the long grass
After a long walk through his territory, calling and scent marking, he settled down to groom himself, showing his bright white underbelly
The Maxabene 3:2 Young Male sits atop an enormous termite mound. Estimates as to the age of mounds this big range from anywhere between 100-700 years. Unfortunately they don't have defining markings, such as the rings of a tree trunk, so no-one really knows for sure.
On the following morning he was found with a very young zebra foal hoisted in a marula tree. After watching him sleep for some time, he finally woke up and launched himself up the tree with ease.
He pauses for a moment once up the tree before moving to the kill
Ever alert to the potential threat of another leopard, Maxabene 3:2 Young male pauses mid-meal, with a large chunk of zebra mane dangling from his mouth
Sometimes a leopard will bring a kill down from the tree to feed more comfortably. For some reason he decided to bring it down after eating and store it on the ground. I can only think that inexperience is the reason for him putting his kill at risk of being stolen by hyaenas.
Maxabene 3:2 Young Male-back down the way he came, this time with the zebra in tow.
We had stopped to view some white backed vultures when Lucky spotted the Tutlwa Female as she stuck her head up from some long grass.
After her first attempt at hunting impala failed, she regrouped and searched for another opportunity
At this time of year we have been seeing more and more of this female on the clearings north of the Sand River. As the grass grows longer with the summer rains it provides just enough cover for her to hunt the large herds of impala that congregate there.
The change in intensity of her facial expression is immediately evident as she spots an impala lamb that seems abandoned, some 300m from the main herd
Low to the ground, she gives a good illustration as to where the term "leopard crawl" comes from!
On the final approach she picks up speed. By using a slow shutter speed and panning the camera with the object you are photographing, you can get an effect like this where part of the picture is in focus, but the rest blurred. Unfortunately for her, the main herd of impala spotted her a mere ten meters from the lamb, alerting it just in time to make a hasty getaway.
The Vomba Young Female rests in a marula tree at last light
The Vomba Young Female descends the same marula tree. This is taking motion blur photos to the extreme, using a 1/5 shutter speed. Unfortunately I managed to cut off her front legs, but it illustrates the effect nonetheless, looking more like a painting than a photo.
Thanks Rich, the shutter speed was 1/5 of a second, so exceptionally slow.