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Jonathan Morris

LEOPARD OVERLOAD (4 Leopards an hour apart on the last day.)

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Jonathan Morris

On day 11 we started off early and I let Rob (my client) choose our route for the day as it was the last day of his tour and I am very great full for this as it would be one of most memorable experiences as a guide and one that won’t matched for a long time. We were making our way casually around the Shingwedzi loop when I spotted two leopards, male and female, across the dry river bed both were lying on one trunk of a Jackalberry tree, I thought I was seeing double. post-50235-0-88502300-1451735471_thumb.jpg

 

I said to Rob there are two leopards in a tree, I couldn’t contain my excitement I pointed out the leopards, got the vehicle into position and the war started with shots being fired from the 1DX and then being replied with shots from my D3300 with a Tamron 270mm lens (amateur equipment) not nearly at 14 frames per second. The two spotted cats were about 80 meters from us and we got some great shots,if you look closely you will notice the male on the right has a porcupine quil right next to his right eye, we spent 45 minutes with these two gorgeous animals with other people driving past us having no clue what sighting they missed, I tried to make them aware of the leopards by waving them over but I was ignored, anyway their loss, the leopards jumped out of the tree and ran off something must have spooked them. post-50235-0-59887900-1451735515_thumb.jpg

 

We then left the location and I was thinking that we wouldn’t match this sighting today we carried on down the route for about 20min driving very slowly and I was constantly looking across the river bed in the hopes of seeing them again, I stopped at a clearing to glass the area with my binoculars and I had noticed some Impala on the right side of the road, when I turned the vehicle off I heard the alarm calls from some Vervet monkeys and then the Impalas joined in. I turned the vehicle around to try and see what all the commotion was about, I stopped about 8 meters in front of a Karee tree and spotted a leopard’s rump through a clearing in the branches.

Rob couldn’t get a clear shot and I suggested to stay put for about 20 minutes to give her a chance to climb down out of the tree, we were sitting quietly for about 5 minutes when all of a sudden I heard a mating call from a male leopard that instantly sent a shudder down my spine. The male was close and he appeared from embankment, I made sure I wasn’t blocking Robs view and he got some good shots. The leopard lied down in the open constantly calling he knew the female was nearby.post-50235-0-26285800-1451735579_thumb.jpgpost-50235-0-75742800-1451735587_thumb.jpgpost-50235-0-46023500-1451735598_thumb.jpg

 

I was excited I didn’t know if I had to get my camera or my video camera so I tried with the video camera but the footage is terrible, I was shaking so much it looked like I was recording a leopard sighting during an earthquake, I then reverted back to my camera.

The male leopard came past the front of the vehicle sniffing the bullbar he saw the female in the tree and marked the tree and performing the flehmen grimace, he then climbed up the tree getting the attention of the female, he then climbed down and made his way into the thicket.post-50235-0-30909200-1451735656_thumb.jpg

 

In the meantime a game viewing vehicle approached us with only Kruger Park staff as passengers and I waved them down as they were approaching pretty fast and pointed to the leopards they stopped the vehicle and reversed an took another small path around us and the sighting, I must take this opportunity to highlight the professionalism and respect showed by the rangers and staff of the Kruger Park they had totally avoided spoiling our sighting and all credit to them for not making any noise and casually going around us with smiles and waves.post-50235-0-96814100-1451735717_thumb.jpg

 

The female then climbed down the Karee tree and made her way into the opposite direction. post-50235-0-73543000-1451735767_thumb.jpgpost-50235-0-58438600-1451735776_thumb.jpgpost-50235-0-21459100-1451735787_thumb.jpg

 

That was the end of these amazing sightings we encountered 4 leopards in the span of 45 minutes we sat quietly for a few minutes just to take it all in, everything was pretty much quite in the vehicle after that, we then came across 3 male lions lying in the shade after a kill we took a few photos then we made our way back to camp for breakfast also encountering a herd of Sable also a rare sighting for Kruger. To have a look at the photos with the right equipment go to

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kittykat23uk

What a wonderful sighting! Are you certain that they were two different pairs of leopards?

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Tom Kellie

~ @@Jonathan Morris

 

CRAZY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks so much for posting this.

Tom K.

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wilddog

It looks as if there is no quill on male leopard 2.... so probably a different male at least. We should be checking out the spot patterns on the females! @@kittykat23uk to see if they are different or the same.

 

No doubt @@Jonathan Morris will reply in due course.

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kittykat23uk

Good idea, I was reading this on my phone, so couldn't really see the pics that well!

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PT123

Fantastic and very lucky - I really like the butt-to-butt shot of the leopards lounging on the Jackalberry tree. Interesting point raised about the pairing, are these two separate couples or one individual mating with two? I don't know much about the mating and territorial habits of leopards and look forward to learning more.

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Atravelynn

That's great you could get 2 of the 4 in one frame. How nice you could give credit to the park staff for heads up maneuvering out of the way of a good sighting.

 

You may have seen 4 leopards but you saw even more crimson breasted shrikes! They always stayed out of the way too, observing from that left corner. :blink:

 

What a thrilling outing for your clients, and for you.

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Jonathan Morris

@kittykat23uk

 

I am sure it was 2 different mating couples, the distance we traveled from the first sighting to the next was about 3 to 5 km give or take, and the way the first two animals were running, I highly doubt that they would be that relaxed especially the female lying in the tree on the second sighting, given the impalas and the vervets being there before the male arriving, I think if it was the first two animals would have spooked the Impalas and Vervets upon their arrival to location 2, also the second male did not have a quill in his face nor blood if had come out after the sprint.

 

The second female was also smaller than the first I suspect a younger female, the male leopard on the second sighting also did not look like he had a sprint minutes before and when leopards get spooked they tend not to be in the open so quickly and if a male is with a female he wont be too far, but never say never in nature.

 

@@Atravelynn sorry about the Logo, this some of my best footage don't want people to copy ;)

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kittykat23uk

Thanks for clarifying @@Jonathan Morris .

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Jonathan Morris

Thank you everybody for the compliments :D I hope you enjoyed the story

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Atravelynn

@kittykat23uk

 

I am sure it was 2 different mating couples, the distance we traveled from the first sighting to the next was about 3 to 5 km give or take, and the way the first two animals were running, I highly doubt that they would be that relaxed especially the female lying in the tree on the second sighting, given the impalas and the vervets being there before the male arriving, I think if it was the first two animals would have spooked the Impalas and Vervets upon their arrival to location 2, also the second male did not have a quill in his face nor blood if had come out after the sprint.

 

The second female was also smaller than the first I suspect a younger female, the male leopard on the second sighting also did not look like he had a sprint minutes before and when leopards get spooked they tend not to be in the open so quickly and if a male is with a female he wont be too far, but never say never in nature.

 

@@Atravelynn sorry about the Logo, this some of my best footage don't want people to copy ;)No need to apologize, it's a great one!

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Marks

Great storytelling and photos. I really like the one of the female descending from the tree. Also very cool that the Kruger staff respected the sighting, but I guess they didn't want to stop and take a look? Maybe they've seen enough leopards, though it's hard to believe anyone could feel that way. ;)

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