Ok. All I want to talk about today was our experience with a mother leopard and her two four-month old cubs. Nothing else even came close to that kind of quality of sighting, well, except the mother/daughter rhinos that walked up to the edge of our vehicle in the afternoon. J
We had heard of the Ravenscourt female leopard and her two young cubs, and there had been a sighting of hear earlier in the morning on a fresh impala kill in the grass. We made our way to the edge of the Sand River where she had been seen, and it took some time to figure out where she might be. We were successful locating the impala kill, but initially we didn’t find any signs of the three leopards. We found them playing in a very thick area of the bush, and for the next 90 minutes we had one of the most wonderful viewings of a young family at play. The 4-month old brother and sister cubs ran circles around their mother, they played in the low branches of the trees and chased each other around our vehicle. The dappled light made for difficult exposures, as well as the erratic movement, but I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time.
Leopard Cub In A Tree
Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/800 @ f/5.6, ISO 3200. Hand Held
From a technique standpoint, I had to rely on autofocus with manual focus tweaks. The foreground grass was often in the way, and I just couldn’t rely on autofocus to do everything for me. I also tried to stop down to get more depth of field as a precaution, as I would have hated to shoot at f/2.8 or f/4 and not have their eyes sharp.
I have been on many many safaris in the past 10 years, and this sighting was difficult to top. Leopards are incredible. Leopard cubs are incredible times ten. Or one thousand. Or more. Yes, I have seen leopard cubs in the past, as in last week, but this one stands on top of all others, due to the length of time, the behaviors witnessed and our ability to see it all clearly only a few feet from us.
Leopard Cubs Playing
Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/400 @ f/4.5, ISO 1000
Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/500 @/f4.5, ISO 1600
Wade With A Smile (Leopard Cubs Will Do that To A Person)
Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/500 @ f/5.6, ISO 2500
Ok, I will talk about another great sighting today: rhinos next to our vehicle. Not just rhinos, but a mother and her young calf. At one point the calf came up and sniffed the edge of our rear tire, and when we lightly giggled he got started and walked off.
One must always remember that a slow day in the bush beats the best day in an office, and the best day in the bush has no equal. Today has no equal.
Camera bags on this safari are sponsored by Gura Gear, which I started in 2008. Check us out. We make the best camera bags on the planet.
Some of the gear on this safari has been provided by Borrowlenses.com. I rely on borrowlenses.com for both my own needs as well as my safari travelers’ needs. When we need big lenses, cameras or anything else photographic, we turn to borrowlenses.com to help out. They are the best resource in the industry for traveling photographers.