Looking for Leopards

This young male was spotted on the first afternoon drive of a recent Birding Namibia safari in the Waterberg area of central Namibia. We stopped to photograph a very relaxed Red-crested Korhaan close to the road and after spending about five minutes at the sighting we happen to turn around and see the leopard about 30 meters behind the vehicle. He was also very relaxed and not worried about our presence at all.

Then after dinner that same day we departed for a night drive with the main focus on Owls and other nocturnal birds. We stopped when we heard an African Scops Owl and while searching for it with the spotlight we saw the eyes of this young female leopard. She was actually very inquisitive and came quite close to the vehicle to investigate. Everyone enjoyed the close-up views until she disappeared behind our open 4x4 safari vehicle and we lost her in the spotlight when you suddenly feel very vulnerable. Luckily she just continued walking down the track and we left her in peace to continue her search for prey.

The third leopard sighting was very special. It was towards the end of the safari and we were staying at Erongo Wilderness Lodge in the Erongo Mountains of western Namibia – a very special place. Most of the other guests were out on a drive or walk and we were at the main deck overlooking a small waterhole enjoying the displaying Freckled Nightjars when we suddenly saw an adult female appear at the waterhole for a drink. The amazing thing about this sighting is that although this is a wilderness area it is not a game reserve or national park. We are very fortunate to have a very high population of free ranging leopards and cheetahs in Namibia.

Off course the opposite also holds true in that we normally see all the endemic and sought after birds on safaris with clients that have absolutely no interest in birds whatsoever. So in future when you feel that you have been very unlucky with leopard sightings just tell your guide to focus on finding rare birds – you might just be lucky enough to see one of the beautiful elusive spotted cats

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