“Did anybody hear that?” exclaimed Sevara, our guide. I thought I had heard something above the chattering and alarming of distant francolins, but couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Another rev of the engine and we were off in search of the mystery sound. Naturally we headed directly to the startled birds, but this produced nothing.
Through the tall grass came a warthog at an alarming pace, and the silence was once again broken by the excited snort of an impala. These additional sounds of nature gave us renewed energy and Sevara insisted there must be some type of predator nearby. We circled the bushes once again in search of our target, but nothing.
We turned the engine off to listen, and finally our mysterious sound echoed in the wilderness once again. From a nearby giant jackalberry tree the deep growl which our experienced guide immediately recognized as that of mating leopard.
We found the cats in the rituals of their mating dance and back up into the branches they disappeared once again. This allowed time for our excitement to settle and camera settings to be checked before the beautiful green-eyed female started prancing around the much larger male once again.
We recognized the mating pair as we had found them a few days prior, and she was flaunting herself with much desire. The male who is a well-known resident around Mombo Camp is referred to as Blue Eyes, but the female is a lesser-known leopard normally shy of vehicles and has a territory in lesser traversed areas of the concession.
Much to our enchantment, Blue Eyes and the beautiful green-eyed female mated over and over on a low hanging branch near our vehicle. What a pleasure to spend time with these elusive animals as they went about a private activity not often witnessed by mankind.
Written and Photographed by Deon de Villiers