Leopards: Poetry in Motion

Copyright Notice: All photos in this blog post are copyrighted by Jo Ann Creore. All rights reserved.

 

On a previous safari in Tanzania, I was fortunate to see a few leopards, but we never lingered long in one place, and our sightings were accidental. In Botswana, however,we actively tracked predators, and once we found them we stayed with them, sometimes for hours. Our first encounter with a leopard came as half of our group was watching four lion cubs feast on a baby zebra. We had originally set out to find the leopard, and when our second vehicle located her, close to the lions, we all drove over to see. She was in a tree, and stayed there for perhaps thirty minutes before dropping to the ground and disappearing in the thick brush.

Female leopard in tree

Female leopard in tree

 

Once in the bush, leopards are so well camouflaged that only well-practiced eyes can spot them. Fortunately, we had an expert tracker in each vehicle.

Disappearing act.

Disappearing act.

 

When the leopard finally appeared, ever so briefly, she was a ghostly figure, slipping through the long grass.

Silent passage

Silent passage

 

To me, there is no more beautiful cat than a leopard, and I must have taken over 100 photos, because almost  every sighting revealed an elegant pose.

Alert

Alert

 

At rest

At rest

 

And when at rest, of course she had to yawn.

Open wide!

Open wide!

 

At Tubu Tree camp, we had our best leopard encounter. Two females had been challenging each other for territory, and one had eaten the other’s cub a couple of nights previously. We were privileged to watch the culmination of the dispute, as one finally triumphed and the other had to slink away, perhaps to return next year.

In the photo below, the light was not right, but the body of the leopard in the midst of the jump is magnificent. If you look carefully, you will see the second leopard lurking in the grass behind.

_DSC1518_2

We repositioned our vehicle, and with the rapid fire of my camera, I was able to shoot the following sequence of the second leopard.

Ready to jump

Ready to jump

Coiled for launch

Coiled for launch

Launch

Takeoff

In mid air

In flight

Landing

Landing

Now where's my rival?

Now where’s my rival?

 

I’m not certain if this second leopard was the eventual winner or loser, since both looked alike to me. But the grace and beauty of this animal captured my heart.

Deadly grace.

Deadly grace.

 

The two rivals walked in close proximity to each other for a long time.

Rivals

Rivals

 

The final showdown occurred out of sight, behind the small tree, and lasted no more than five seconds. Victory went to the leopard in the rear. The  loser assumed a submissive posture and left the scene.

Battle over.

Battle over.

One thought on “Leopards: Poetry in Motion

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