Guests will often ask about my favourite animal and without hesitation I can say that it is definitely a leopard. With the amount of quality leopard sightings at Singita Sabi Sand, this was definitely one of the drawing cards to work here. In my opinion Singita Sabi Sand is one of the best places to see these normally elusive and secretive cats on a regular basis.
Singita guides that are lucky enough to view these animals on a regular basis, will start to recognise them as individuals, both via their appearance, as well as subtle personality traits. The guiding team has created a leopard identity kit, using different markers like notches in the ears, spot markings, eye colour and especially by counting the spot markings above the whisker line. We attempt to identify these large cats as individuals not to see them as our “pets” but rather for research purposes and to keep track of family trees and territories. A lot of data capturing in this area is done in conjunction with a research company called Panthera. Their recent statistics are based on over 60 000 leopard sightings, with 142 different individuals identified on the reserve. This is one of the most extensive research databases ever compiled. From their findings, Singita Sabi Sand is operating within the highest density of leopards to date. It is very rewarding as a guide to be able to contribute to this type of research.
Even with leopards being my favourite species, I can’t help even having a favourite individual. I have been lucky enough to view over 20 different individual leopards during my time at Singita Sabi Sand, of which Scotia Young Male quickly become a favourite. He is a beautiful young cat that is at a very interesting stage of his life, where he is slowly being pushed into adulthood and independence. He is by no means a territorial male yet, but due to his size for his young age, we have high hopes that he will do very well in the near future. Due to his mother’s territory being in the vicinity of the lodge, we have had frequent good quality sightings of him whilst growing up. Hopefully we will have him around for a little longer.