It was the final morning for guests Shaun and Carolyn, who had flown 22 hours from America to stay with us for 4 days. While sipping on a hot cup of coffee looking out off the Varty deck at the ominous clouds brewing over Londolozi which seemed as if they were about to burst at any second, we heard the the low call of a leopard coming from somewhere in the river below is.
That was the trigger; ponchos were on and we were off in search.
If you have been to Londolozi before you may have seen the beautiful protruding boulders which are scattered along the banks and the middle of the Sand River in front of camp. That’s where we were heading.
We crossed through the River to the northern bank where we had more of a vantage point to scan across the boulders. We heard it again, allowing us to pinpoint the area.
“THERE IT IS”! called Shaun as he pulled off an incredible spot as the leopard moved behind a small bush. Moments after we spotted her she lay up on one of the boulders, which for me, is one of the most beautiful places to view and photograph these cats.
It was the Nhlanguleni female.
Now that she was perfectly positioned for a view, we had to find a way into the river. Driving there comes with its difficulties at the best of times; following a leopard in the Sand River can be difficult, as they can very easily walk into an area which we can’t get to.
Once we had seen and heard the impala alarm calling, we moved the vehicle to get a different angle in the hope that the leopard was going to start moving again now that she had been spotted. During this time of year leopards know there are a lot of very vulnerable impala lambs which are close to lone female impalas, as they often will keep their offspring hidden away for roughly three days until they are strong enough to be running with the herd. This unfortunately also makes them more vulnerable to predation.
Something had caught her attention and she was off the boulder in a flash. She had seen a vulnerable impala lamb and was closing in. The lamb’s mother was not far away, oblivious to its surroundings the lamb started bleating which was going to be its demise. All we could see were a few spots of the leopard stalking and beyond her, the the lamb cautiously walking in search of its mother. The leopard took off and as we raced around a bush to see, she walked out in front of us with the poor impala lamb hanging lifelessly from her jaws.
Her walking over all the boulders and moving through the Sand River was breathtakingly beautiful.
We could not have asked for a better way to conclude Shaun and Carolyn’s stay.
Good things happen to good people; they took the leap of faith in travelling here from the US for only four days, and were rewarded with the most spectacular sightings.