I have been having some great luck with the big cats recently, often when setting out to find them their calls in the morning can give you an indication of a general area, couple with this getting out in the field and finding tracks, following and triangulating where possible you can increase your chances of spotting them. However sometimes they just pop up and it is nothing more than pure luck that you spot them. This is what has been happening to me recently and our guests have been getting some great sightings as a result.
Three alert wildebeest alerted us to one sighting, heads pointing to a low palm bush and staring intently is a great sign from a herbivore that a potential treat is close by – Lion. We would have driven straight past it!
Just last night towards the end of a very nice afternoon drive we spotted two Hyena, as it approached sundown the light was shining beautifully on the hyena and plenty of pictures were being taken, when suddenly one hyena spotted something, standing tall and growling, off to our right stood just 50 meters away was a male lion. The sighting got better as the light faded with the hyena performing their distinctive whooping call for back up and almost immediately hyena started appearing from all directions eventually numbering 17, surrounding and harassing the lion. The lion for his part seemed mildly annoyed by this disturbance and started calling himself in defiance of the army of whooping hyena. It was a great sighting and we left with the situation looking like it would dissipate and the lion eventually afforded some peace.
Although leopards are never a guarantee in Selous, we are having a very lucky season for sightings so far.
In June, we had guests who were lucky enough to watch a very relaxed leopardess as she stalked and hunted a scrub hare. Although most of the gory action took place in the cover of a riverine drainage line, they viewed her as she enjoyed her well deserved meal.
Just a few days later during a trip down to Lake Tagalala, two separate leopards appeared within the forests, posing for a few more photos.
Our luck has not only been out in the bush, but also in camp. At the end of June, Nico spotted his very first leopard just as our workday was ending. With all of our guests out on safari, a leopardess casually strolled from the pool down to the waterhole. And although camp paparazzi had arrived to photograph this rarity she made her way around the waterhole before slinking into the brush beyond.
Just this week we’ve had two sightings of leopard at the waterhole. The first night we sat at the parade ground. A few hippos had crossed already, but we could still hear something in the shadows. Heribert turned and shone his flashlight towards a shadowy creature and to all of our surprise there was a big male leopard lurking around the waterhole. Again he was very relaxed and let all of us at the dinner table “Oh and Ah’ over this very distinguished dinner guest before he vanished in the dark bushes beyond. For many people at our table that evening, this was their first leopard sighting and they could not believe how close they would come in camp. The next night to everybody’s delight he came back for a repeat performance, it was too dark of course for photo’s but it was a pleasure to see this most elusive of cats over drinks and dinner.