This coming weekend sees the next Stewart Photography wildlife safari into the beautiful Timbavati bush with another full party of 6 very keen photographers. During the last 12-18 months our tours into this area have given us an almost non stop supply of sightings of one of the most elusive yet prolific cats, the leopard. Timbavati, known for its high density of leopard population has made 2015 a tremendous year for leopard sightings, from cubs just a few months old to new males/females trying to make their mark in the area. One trip earlier this year witnessed 8 different leopard in 12 separate sightings on just 6 game drives!! Remarkable opportunities by anyone standards I would suggest!!
Leopards are solitary creatures that only spend time with others when they are mating or raising young. They are mainly nocturnal and thereforeuse most nights hunting for their next meal. Leopards spend a lot of their time in trees and will often drag their kill into a tree to keep it away from other predatory animals, such as lion and hyena. Leopards are the smallest of the large cat category, but are well known for their ferocious hunting techniques. Capable of speeds of up to 35 mph and with a possible single leap of around 20 feet, it is no surprise that leopards are feared as one of the great hunters of the bush.
This particular period of time in the Timbavati Game Reserve is an interesting one for the new leopard population, as for many of the “once” 500 to 600 gram cubs, who have been spending their formative months with their mothers, the time has now come to leave their protection and fend for themselves. For the females, they need to now search, carve out and create a new territory for themselves or perhaps even consider leaving the area to find a safer haven to start and bring up their own families. For the new males, it is a much riskier time, as their territories are much larger and they will probably be forced to come face to face with the existing mature male in the area they choose and battle it out for dominance!!
Let us hope that we are able to catch sight of some of the aspiring adults and their mothers and fathers as we search the Timbavati for stunning wildlife photographic opportunities. I will keep you updated on our progress via the stewartphotography instagram page of any sightings we get and continue this blog with results we are able to see when I return.