Leopard spotted

Pamushana | September 2016

We set off early one morning with the firm intentions of following up on a pride of lions that had been seen the night before. It was just beginning to change from darkness to dawn, and in a few more minutes the spotlight wouldn’t be able to pick up reflections of predators’ eyes. But we were barely out of camp when we rounded a riverbank and found this male leopard curled up, with paws tucked in and his tail wrapped around him.

Our leopard sightings here are often fleeting flashes of these elusive cats, but this male was quite content to lie as he was, and let us admire him in awed silence. However, the vervet monkeys felt differently. Unbeknown to them they had slept the whole night in a tree with a leopard at its base! At the instant that it became light enough for them to spot the leopard below they began shrieking, alarming and hurling abuse at the predator. It was like a really annoying alarm clock going off too early, with no snooze button plus a jammed off switch! A few minutes later the leopard could take no more, and flicked his tail, got up, turned around and slunk off.