Ranger Grant Rodewijk and I had set out one afternoon for a drive, not looking for anything specific, just bumbling around for anything we could find. Not long after we had left camp, James Tyrrell got hold of us on the radio and asked if we would join him and the three new trainees in searching for a leopard in a riverbed just west of camp; James had been following some tracks at the time and we agreed to join in searching for the leopard.
Making our way there, James had notified us that he had found a female leopard lying up on a rock in the riverbed and confirmed that this was in fact one of the Nlanguleni young females. James added that there were signs of two more leopards in the area and was going to track them heading upstream; this was a good sign that the mother and sister were nearby.
Approaching the last position that James had given us we found his vehicle and knew the leopard was nearby. We had looked for some places to access the riverbed but was too steep for the vehicle.
Grant suggested we go off on foot looking for the cub, so we started to scan the area and cautiously made our way down into to the riverbed, trying to be as quiet possible. As we are making our way down a steep embankment Grant suddenly lifted his hand in indication for me to stop. He pointed upstream in the river bed. He had spotted her lying up on the rock that James had mentioned. She had spotted us too. We remained still and observed her from a distance making sure not to disturb her, and Grant meanwhile scanned the river bank to see if we could approach using the Land Rover. Seeing a route down, we decided to head back to the vehicle and drive in from further downstream.
After some excellent off-roading skills from Grant we finally made it back to the rock and were approaching the cub, who remained completely unfazed by the vehicle we were able to capture some amazing photographs and spend a good couple of minutes watching her. She later gave two big yawns, stood up and came down from her rock pedestal and crossed the river, disappearing into the bush.