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 Post subject: My top 3 leopard sightings in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 5:14 pm 
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We've had mixed fortunes over the years when it comes to leopard sightings in KNP. One year we hit the jackpot with 7 different sightings in 8 days where as other trips not so much as a brief glimpse. But that's how it goes with these elusive cats. With their nocturnal habits and exceptional camouflage, you do need a fair bit of luck on your side.

On the plus side they are incredibly adaptive and can be found right across KNP in almost any habitat. We've be fortunate enough to come across these remarkable creatures in most areas of the park, from Shingwetsi to Crocodile bridge. Most of our sightings have occurred in or around river beds, or alternatively by coming across an unfortunate impala (or other prey) dangling from the branch of a tree.

Coming across leopard cubs is one of the all time rare treats in the bush, considering that they are generally well hidden from predators. If you happen to locate the den then it’s always worth hanging around for mom to come home from her night time hunt. That's when the little ones really let loose and literally bounce off the walls (or trees in this case). It makes for some a very special sighting, one that you won’t forget in a hurry.

Anyway, here are my top 3 leopard sightings in KNP.

1. Biyamiti weir - We came across a male leopard on his evening patrol at the end of the Biyamiti road. He was on a serious mission, marking his territory, climbing rocks and logs searching for a good vantage point, constantly on the look out. He kept disappearing from sight but we kept locating him again and again because of the reactions alarm calls from the other animals and birds in the area. Scrub hares and other small game would explode out the bush and sure enough not far behind was this beautiful male going about his patrol. In the end we followed him for about 30 minutes until it was time to start heading back. As a parting gift to us he climbed up onto a big bolder right next to the car and looked down at us as if to say goodbye. Special!

2. Satara - H1-4. On a morning drive we came across a dead impala hanging from the branch of a tall tree. We decided to hang around for a bit to see what came along. After a while we detected some movement in a thicket and soon realised it was a pair of small leopard cubs. They were pretty tough to see but once mom returned some time later, they came out of their hiding places and started running amuck. All you saw were these two spotted terrors racing around and tackling one another and poor mom. They clearly had some energy to burn off. The highlight was when one of the cubs climbed up the tree and had a go at the kill. They were having a great time until some kudu crashed the party. The cubs quickly returned to their mother’s side and then back to their hiding spot. It was a thoroughly entertaining sighting and one we will never forget.

3. Skukuza H1-4 - one of the loops of the tar road. We came across several different species grouped together in a clearing. There were some kudu, impala and some giraffe all browsing and looking very relaxed. Little did they know all hell was about to break loose. Out of nowhere a leopard exploded out of the bush and went for one of the unsuspecting impala. It was over so quickly, all we saw was a brief flash of spots and a flickering tail. Unfortunately the leopard was unsuccessful this time but it is still the closest we have come to seeing a leopard kill in the wild. Huddled together now, the impala sounded their alarm calls and didn’t let the leopard out of their sight. We thought the danger was pretty much over once the impala and other game were alert to the leopard’s presence but surprisingly the leopard had other ideas. It backed off into the bush and then began to stalk the impala from a different angle all over again. However, nothing happened this time around and the leopard eventually made his way off in search of another opportunity. It was an incredible few minutes and it sure got our hearts racing.

These elusive cats are certainly something special and coming across one in the wild is an experience you won't forget in a hurry. What are some of your best leopard experiences in KNP? Where did you see it and what sought of behaviour did you witness? :think:


Last edited by James of the Jungle on Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: My top 3 leopard sightings in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 10:41 pm 
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Hi JJ. We've been blessed with some spectacular leopard sightings in KNP in the past.
The highlight however was the following;
Skukuza Camp: We were walking along the fence on the river side, when I spotted a leopard on the other side of the river. There was a small herd of impala drinking at the river and the leopard started stalking them. We watched the whole scene unfold. The leopard was only a few meters from the impala when it exploded out of the reeds and caught an impala ewe. This happened so quickly that the impala was down before the rest of the herd scattered in all directions. The leopard then dragged its' kill +_ 50 meters along the river and then into a thick patch of reeds where it disappeared. A fabulous sighting from within the camp.

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 Post subject: Re: Leopard
Unread postPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 5:57 am 
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James of the Jungle wrote:
Wow! Some magnificent photos :thumbs_up:

You never know with these elusive cats. Sometimes you get lucky and others you don't.

We've had mixed fortunes in KNP over the years. In December 10 we saw no less that 7 Leopard sightings in 8 days in the Lower Sabie/ Skukuza/ Satara areas. However in December 11, we saw 1 Leopard in 7 days in Biyamiti/Satara. I'm hoping this year we get lucky again :D

There a number of things you can do to improve your chances but at the end of the day perseverance always pays off so drive slow and keep those eyes peeled :shock: :thumbs_up:


That's indeed the facts of leopard-seeking, JoJ. :thumbs_up: Cheetah and wild dogs too. Many people these days increase their chances by staying in radio/cellphone contact with other people; however, for us that takes the excitement out of looking, so we prefer to find our own cats and dogs, just like we did in the old days when technology meant V8s, a fridge ice-maker, or a high-tech record needle!

We've seen jeep jokkies sprinting around from one sighting to the next - but we always prefer the slow, steady pace, enjoying every thing we see ... and I mean everything! I cannot count how many times we've been at a lion kill, or a cheetah sighting, or a leopard in the grass or a tree, and someone arrives, takes a few pics, then leaves to find something better. Something better?! What's better than lions munching and growling at a kill, or cheetah by the side of the road, or a leopard in a tree??? Last time we saw three leopards - yes, THREE - in a mating spree, some of the activity taking place in the open! The amount of people that hung around more than fifteen minutes I can count on one hand; and that was a busy tar road. :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Leopard
Unread postPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 6:03 am 
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Aat wrote:
Spotted at about 10 meter along the S86 loop (between Tshokwane and Satara)


I would insist that they would still be spotted at 20m, 50m, and even 1km, Aat. :twisted: Or, more correctly, rosetted, with the lower legs, the belly, and the head spotted. :wink: :lol:


Seriously, magnificent sighting, magnificent pics, Aat. :clap: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: My top 3 leopard sightings in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 6:40 am 
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Lovely thread JJ :thumbs_up:

My best photo Leopard was this beauty taken on the Voortrekker road. We were alone. A car had alerted us to the sighting and then they drove off.

The Leopard lay a few metres away as cool as cucumber.

Image

This was a mom and 2 cubs on the way to Malelane from Croc Bridge. I managed to get mom and one cub.

Image

Image

Image

Image

This is from my last trip. I saw 2 pairs of courting Leopards 20 minutes apart on the H4-1.

Unfortunately the photo opportunities were not wonderful as they had other things on their mind.

Image

Image

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 Post subject: Re: My top 3 leopard sightings in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 11:39 am 
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Roan - Wow!!! That sounds like a once in a life time sighting. Agreed, its so quick - over in a flash.

You were so lucky to be on foot when it all went down. That's when you get to hear all the noises that go with the sighting. The piece and quiet is shattered by the alarm calls etc. One doesn't realize how much you miss when the car engines are running in the background :D

Fantastic! Thanks for sharing.


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 Post subject: Re: My top 3 leopard sightings in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 12:02 pm 
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Shikaari wrote:
For me very difficult to pick the best three,as last visit had about 6 leopard sightings,all excellent but 2011 truely was bumper year with about 16 leopard sighting in one trip.


That's amazing Shikaari. And I thought we had a crazy year with 7 sightings. Awesome :clap:

I read some where that there are more leopard per square kilometer in the Skukuza/Lower Sabie area than anywhere else in Africa :shock: . Don't quote me on that, but the point is there are plenty of these beautiful cats out there. With patience, a bit of research and some good old fashioned luck, you can come right in a big way.
:D


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 Post subject: Re: Leopard
Unread postPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 7:50 pm 
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Wow Stunning images and sightings:clap: :clap:

We found this Leopard about 5km from Paul Kruger Gate in April

Do any one know why it have collar around his neck?

Image

This is the famous Lake Panic Leopard on the gravel road to LP.

Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: My top 3 leopard sightings in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 8:25 pm 
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:clap: :clap: :thumbs_up: MM! I have never seen such a young one in the park! And to spot a pair mating :big_eyes:
During November 2011 we came across a +_ 6 month old cub on her own a few meters from the road along the Mahonie loop. We were the only car and spent at least 25minutes with her and then left her undesturbed. Next morning we found a big male lying in a big baobab close to Klopperfontein. A truly African sight!

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 Post subject: Re: Leopard
Unread postPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 11:36 pm 
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Really beautiful pics of the Leopard.

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 Post subject: Re: My top 3 leopard sightings in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:58 am 
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Meandering mouse, looking at those photos of the mating pair got me thinking about a similar sighting we had in 2010. It was also on the H 4-1, only a bit closer to Lower Sabie over looking the river bed.

We parked of at one of the view points that over look the river and the vast far bank. We could hear those deep calls of a leopard from the reeds below us. We couldn't see him but we know roughly where he was because of the his repetitive calls. Eventually some crowned plovers gave him position away, they weren't to happy about him being there.

He was walking up and down, in and out of sight through the reeds. He looked very restless and continued making those deep calls as he patrolled the river bed. Eventually it all made sense when a much smaller female leopard walked out of the reeds on the far bank.

Poor guy, its no wonder he was so restless and worked up. There was a small obstacle in the form of a strong flowing Sabie river between him and his lovely lady. :lol: Very funny

Great sighting! Loved every moment of it :D

I highly recommend that stretch of road along the Sabie river. Don't worry about all the cars passing behind you. Just find a good look out point, switch off and wait. Listen for birds (particularly intolerant birds like plovers) and keep watching the both sides of the river from your elevated view point. There is a good chance of seeing leopard if you are patient. If not leopard, you will be rewarded with plenty of other quality sightings.


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 Post subject: Leopard
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:25 am 
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Hey :)

I saw this leopard when visiting the Kgalagadi 2 years ago. I have been going there for years and seen many leopards, but this one looked so much smaller than usual. Is this a female or young leopard?

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 Post subject: Re: Leopard
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:12 pm 
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Welcome to the forums Lisa :thumbs_up:

Great sighting...its looks like an old female to me. Females as you may know are generally much smaller than males so perhaps you have seen males mostly and thats why it appeared so much smaller!

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 Post subject: Re: Leopard
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:39 pm 
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Hi Lisa and welcome

Agree with o-dog, it looks like a female. She hasn't had a decent meal in a while judging from her protruding pelvic bone and shoulderblade. She might be old and cannot hunt anymore.

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 Post subject: Re: Leopard
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:42 pm 
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Thanks so much for the response :)
I definitely must have just seen male leopards, because I have never seen one as small as this.
Thank you so much for the info :)
Loving this forum!


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