NAME: Lee Whittam
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CURRENT COMPANY: Essential Africa
To see a leopard during a safari is always a highlight and one that can take several trips to Africa in order to accomplish. During a recent safari to the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia we found a leopardess feeding on a baboon carcass late one afternoon, this in itself was fantastic, but we were in for a treat as the afternoon wore on.
The relative silence that we were experiencing while watching the leopard feed was suddenly shattered by the loud alarm calls of a big male baboon. The baboon had obviously spotted the leopard and was now charging in for a closer look, all the time rallying other members of the baboon troop in order to chase the leopard away.
Deciding that she was out numbered, the leopard and her sub adult male cub made a dash for the thicker bush, the baboons quickly deciphered who the more confident of the two leopards was and pushed home their attack on the young male leopard who vanished from view further up the gully. The female on the other hand was obviously more experienced and almost casually slunk into the safety of a nearby bush and lay down. She seemed to know that the baboons wouldn’t follow her into the thicket, she then spent the rest of the twilight laying patiently waiting for dark when she knew that the baboons would be up in the trees and she would once again have the upper hand and make full use of the dark night.
Sure enough, soon after dark she started walking and calling and we were then treated to seeing her with both of her sub adult cubs and shortly afterwards, and the father, who’s large shape and heavy set body left no doubt in our mind as to who the dominant male leopard was in this area. During the time we were with the four leopards the baboons had hardly stopped alarming from their roosts high above the ground, we knew that later that night there could well be another baboon casualty. We left the leopards to their secretive lives and headed back to camp full of smiles and appreciation for what we had just witnessed.
The rest of the safari proved to be some of the best leopard sightings I have ever had and during the course of the 12 day safari we managed to find and view no fewer than 14 individual leopards, not bad in anyone’s book!