7 Weeks in Kruger: Breakfast with a Leopard Cub
Updated: Dec 11, 2018
Oh wow, I’ve fallen so far behind with my blog posts! My apologies to those hoping to follow this amazing journey through Kruger a little more closely - as the days have (rapidly!) passed I’ve spent more and more time in the field and less and less on the laptop, which I would say is a good thing!
Downtime has also been invested in making progress with the tech elements of the KrugerExplorer App, which is coming along now and is all very exciting!
So where was I…?
My sensational cat-tastic morning between Olifants and Satara also enjoyed the perfect finish with a close-up sighting of a female leopard.
Her direction of travel east of the main H1-4 road suggested the possibility of a cub being over on the S147 nearby and so after sunrise the following morning I headed straight there full of excitement.
After spending a little while searching back and forth, sure enough I found this absolute beauty snoozing in a tree!
Delighted with my find, I parked up with a good angle for photos and prepared to stake out the situation, the reasoning being that the mother could return from her nightly hunt at any point and the photo opportunity would be superb.
Sadly she didn’t show up over the course of the next 7-hours (yes, I sat there for seven hours…!) but I had a wonderful extended morning with the cub who flipped between snoozing and showing off for me. Here's a few of the huge number of pictures I took...!
I was informed by the ranger on that evening’s sunset drive that mum did turn up but after camp gates had closed. She had a full belly and had obviously been feeding elsewhere throughout the day before returning to her cub with a chunk of impala and to suckle.
A word on the photography as ever... The weather presented extremely tough conditions throughout the morning encounter with the leopard cub. The cloud was low and rainy but still quite bright when looked at directly, giving an awful grey milky lighting. I’m pretty pleased with the results in the circumstances but what I’d have given for some lovely golden hour lighting to go with this sighting!
Of course Satara is one of the premier game viewing areas of the park and is famous for its cats, particularly lions, plus the variety and densities of wildlife that can be seen amongst the stunning local scenery. As I’ve been offline for a little while I thought I’d share a mix of sightings and mini-stories from the Satara area for you to enjoy!
- I encountered this little lion cub hiding in the rocks of a 'koppie' to the north of the S126. There was at least five cubs and they were well hidden although curiosity got the better of this one for a moment and he just had to peak out at me! I then came across the pride just a few kilometres away at the Sweni waterhole. This adolescent male was beautiful and already a big guy, while the matriarch of the group didn't seem too pleased with my being nearby!
The following gallery shows:
- A leopard (unrelated to the cub) snoozing in a tree - doesn't look like it would be that comfortable but this guy was in a deep old sleep!
- A Smith's tree squirrel with lunch - you see them a lot around parts of Kruger and they are lovely little creatures that sometimes put on a show for you.
- I thought I'd try my luck at getting a nice giraffe drinking shot and just about timed this one right!
- A colourful bateleur eagle swooped down not too far from my vehicle while I was checking out the otherwise quiet Gudzani East waterhole - sometimes the wildlife comes to you!
- Zebra love - a large proportion of Kruger's zebra population resides between the Olifants and Sabie Rivers so the grasslands of the Satara plains situated between these two waterways are a hugely important food source to them.
- This woolly-necked stork spent some time fishing and digging for prey at the Sweni Hide, seemingly without luck before suddenly plucking this unfortunate frog from the mud! The bill of the stork has very sensitive hair-like cells along the edge which are able to feel when something food-like comes into contact, eliminating the need to be able to see in through the muddy waters.
I will do one more post from Satara but it will be more of an individual animal profile celebrating another of Satara’s cat species - the African wild cat.
Check back in for it over the coming days - or simply add your email address on our Learn More page to keep updated!
Danny & Charlotte
We would be delighted for you to follow our Kruger journey and our getting the KrugerExplorer App off the ground, either here on the website and blog or via social media: