The guy behind the lens

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I'm a Science Teacher, Nature Photographer, Husband, Father, and Grandfather who loves to explore the natural world by traveling, photographing and thinking. 


Saturday, October 5, 2013

On Safari - Leopard Sighting!

Click  in the image to see the high resolution version 
This post brings us to the afternoon of day three of my visit to the Ngala Safari Lodge in South Africa. As you have seen from my previous postings, I had a great deal of success seeing a wide range of African animals. At this stage of the trip, two animals were missing from my list of the “Big Five”. These two animals were rhinos and leopards. I had been lucky enough to see rhinos on several occasions during previous visits to Africa, so they were less of a priority for me. However, my previous visits had yielded only a short glimpse of a wild leopard. Shortly before sunset we got a call over the radio from another ranger that a young male leopard had been spotted with an impala carcass in a tree. The challenge for us was to get there before the sun went down. The leopard sighting was estimated to be approximately 20 minutes away and under perfect conditions we might just get there before sunset. Our ranger drove with great determination to beat the clock and get us this leopard sighting before darkness fell. Upon our arrival, we were able to see the leopard about 20 feet up in a leadwood tree tending to his carcass. 

Click  in the image to see the high resolution version 

The faint light was less than perfect for photography. Rather than let this opportunity pass me by, I reached into my camera bag, put on my high-powered flash, played with some settings, and hoped for the best. The images that you see here certainly have some flaws, but they accurately capture the excitement of those special moments. 
Upon our arrival, we noticed that in addition to the leopard in the tree with his carcass two hyenas had camped out under the tree and were vocally harassing the leopard hoping that his inexperience would cause him to drop the carcass down for them and they could feast. The leopard fed on the carcass for a while, seemingly oblivious to the hyenas. However, after a while he turned and wandered down the tree aways and let them know that he was none too pleased with their presence. 
Click  in the image to see the high resolution version 
When he finally came all the way down, he gave the hyenas distance and they gave him distance. The leopard moved away from the tree and off into the grass. 

Click  in the image to see the high resolution version 

We then headed back to camp and the dinner that awaited us. We made plans to return to this tree the following morning in the hopes of a better opportunity to photograph this beautiful leopard in action. Unfortunately, the carcass slipped out of the tree overnight and the hyenas had their fill of it. Even though I missed a chance to shoot the “Young Tom” leopard in the morning light, I held out hope that the final days of my Safari experience would yield another good leopard sighting. I'm happy to report I was not disappointed. Please coming back soon to get the full story of a future leopard sighting!


Kay L. Davies said...

I'm still so happy for you, John. What a wonderful experience for a photographer like you.

eileeninmd said...

Awesome sighting and photos!

Gunilla Bäck said...

Gorgeous animals!

A wondering star said...

Very pretty photos! Thanks for sharing.

retriever said...

Wouaff, wonderfull fotos, great captures!

John Mead said...

Thanks again for your great support, Kay! It was a truly magical time in his presence!

John Mead said...

Thanks Eileen! You REALLY know you're alive when you are in the presence of such powerful predators!

John Mead said...

Thanks so much Gunilla!

John Mead said...

Totally my pleasure! I feel we all have the obligation to share such things of beauty & wonder when we are lucky enough to encounter & capture those moments! I appreciate your commenting here!

John Mead said...

Woaff back atcha! Thanks for the Bark out! ;)