Ryan Hillier

NAME: Ryan Hillier





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Right Place Right Time

This diary entry took place at Kwandwe

I was up in the mountains in the north of Kwandwe  trying to unravel the mysteries of some lion tracks from the previous night. The tracks went up and down the road and kept disappearing on the hard rocky ground, only to appear going in a completely different direction a few hundred metres later, then the same thing would happen again! Andy and I were having a tough time trying to figure out what the lions had done in the night when Brendan called in an elephant bull just up ahead of us so we decided to go and have a look.

We had a fantastic view of a young bull moving towards us into the early morning sunlight, feeding as he went. Eventually we lost sight of him as he literally walked through a thicket and although we could hear him feeding we couldn’t see any part of him even though he was a mere 40m away! We decided to move off and had driven no more than about 80m when we found another elephant, a massive old bull with tattered ears and broken tusks. We stopped to watch him feed when Mariana in the middle row exclaimed, “Leopard, there’s a leopard!” Sure enough sitting off on the edge of a clearing was a beautiful young male leopard, casually looking around at us and the elephant! We all quickly had a look through the binoculars before he got up and moved across behind some bushes and I moved back a bit hoping to get another look at him. Well didn’t we just!

The beautiful cat appeared once more into an open clearing with the morning light on his face and walked slowly right through the clearing to within about 30m of the elephant, walking along towards it casually investigating what this massive animal was doing. The leopard walked behind the bush that the big bull was feeding on and reappeared in the gap below the elephants belly, about 10m away from it! Neither leopard or elephant seemed to even acknowledge each others presence, the young male still slowly ambling along and the big bull still breaking off branches and putting them in his mouth, chewing contentedly. Slowly the young male moved past and into some thicker bush on the edge of a big valley and disappeared and we went off to have some hot chocolate with a very healthy dose of Amarula to celebrate!

What started off as a very frustrating morning turned into a very memorable experience, just a case of being in the right place at the right time!

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