On my recent trip to Uganda, myself and my guests were fortunate to witness what is probably a once in a lifetime sighting. While we were staying at Ishasha Wilderness Camp, we headed out early one morning for game drive. Our plan was to go looking for lions as Queen Elizabeth National Park is very well known for its tree-climbing lions.
The night before we had a massive storm, which was amazing as it had been a hot day and lying in bed that night in a tent listening to the rain fall was absolutely beautiful. Why am I telling you this? Well when we woke up, it was clear, not a cloud in the sky.
This means that when we headed out on drive, any tracks that we could see meant that it was after the rain. We had been driving for about 40 minutes or so when our guide David spotted a set leopard tracks on the road. They looked VERY good!
After a quick team discussion, we decided to follow up on the leopard, it didn't take long before David spotted the leopard resting in a tree. Obviously our excitement levels went through the roof!
On approach, we realized that it was a mother with a youngster, the youngster was a bit nervous and hid away in some densely vegetated bush. We spent time photographing the leopardess in the tree, she then came down and we discovered that she had killed a topi(which is a rather large antelope for a female leopard). Being too big to hoist into the tree, she covered it with dirt and grass to avoid detection from other predators such as lions, hyena, other leopards and birds of prey.
She then decided to go back up the tree to rest, at which time we decided to leave her be and head back to camp.
Before heading out on afternoon safari, I sat with David to discuss the plan and if he knew if any lions had been seen, the answer was yes, but they were very far away. So, myself and David thought that we'll chat to the guests and commit to going back to the leopardess.
Talking to my guests - Gene, Barbara and Dave, I mentioned that there were lions that were far away, but in David's and my opinion, returning to the leopard might prove to be more fruitful. There are a number of different scenarios that could play out.
The food could have been stolen during the day and the leopards moved off (this would mean we start from scratch, the leopardess could have put the kill in a tree (there was a very nice leopard tree close by) or maybe if we were patient and the kill was still on the ground, we would be fortunate enough to see her move the kill and hoist it up in a tree. We all know the bush, it's unpredictable, but I believe that if you are putting in the time, the patience and spending time out in the field, you will be rewarded in one way or another.
We headed out for drive and on arrival, we found that the kill was still in the same position, the mother leopard was no where to be seen and while driving around looking for the leopards, Dave pulled off a miraculous spot as he saw the youngster hiding under a bush.
It wasn't long before the cub disappeared. We spoke about it again on the vehicle and the potential that could unfold. So, we decided to park in prime position for if the leopardess did decide to come out and move her kill.
While waiting, I could just hear the distant snorts and alarm calls of a herd of Ugandan kob. Now in my mind, I had thought, leopards being opportunistic, the leopardess maybe saw the Kob and went to try make another kill OR perhaps there was another predator in the area that set the Kob off.
We decided to go take a closer look and you would not believe what the next hour and a half had in store for us...
Check out the video below...
The Best Of Uganda
Join Wild Eye for this incredible adventure which includes not only the experience of getting close to and photographing the critically endangered Mountain Gorilla, but also two full days of trekking Chimpanzees in Uganda’s Kibale National Forest, and a two day visit to the famous Queen Elizabeth National Park, known for its tree-climbing lions. This safari itinerary to give you the opportunity to photograph a much wider diversity of subjects than purely primates and will leave you with an incredibly well-rounded portfolio of Uganda.
Until next time,