Two leopards

Alan Smith
Published June 14, 2016 11:09 AM






It is always a privilege to spend time with a leopard. When the cat is happy to spend time with you too, it becomes a very special time indeed.

Earlier this year we spent four nights at the Cheetah Plains Private Game Reserve, one of the reserves that make up the Sabi Sands Wildtuin. During our time there we were fortunate to find three leopards that were relaxed in our company. I've already posted photos of one of them, Quarantine, a young male. This post features the other two.

One is a large leopard called Tingana who appeared to be the dominant male in the area. When we first found him, he was tucking in to the remains of a warthog. Our guide, Andrew Khosa, thought that Tingana had stolen it from another cat. Certainly, he gave us a look that very clearly said "Mine!" when we approached him. He seemed quite happy to eat on the ground - a sign of his dominant status, perhaps. The warthog was buried deep uder a bush which made photography difficult. Once his appetite was sated, however, Tinagana was happy to clean himself and digest his meal out in the open.

The other leopard was a much smaller female called Inkanyeni. She had two cubs which weren't with her at the time of our sighting. We came across her at dusk and she seemed more intent on finding water to drink than anything else. Initially she inspected and then drank from a tiny puddle. Inkanyeni hung around the vehicles until after the Sun set before drinking from a bigger puddle and then disappearing into the gathering gloom.

I believe that you will only see a leopard if it wants to be seen, so being permitted to spend extended times with cats like these was an honour indeed. The memories will linger for a very long time.

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