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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Sheedy

Today’s Lockdown Visitor: The Elusive Leopard Shows Himself!

My Morning began with great excitement, but I'm going to tell you more about that in a moment...

First, I need to rewind a bit. A few days ago, as golden hour was upon us, I went for my afternoon walk. It’s my favourite time of day, when the bushveld is lit up in the most beautiful golden light.

I was strolling along the fence line, listening to the hippos chuckling up stream, and the guineafowls babbling on the other side of the river. With winter upon us, the the late afternoon air, brought in a slight chill. I was watching a lone elephant bull strolling along the opposite river bank. The sun began to slip away beyond the horizon, and the smoky sky turned to magnificent pastel hues and candy floss swirls of pinks, oranges and reds.

A magical Kruger sunset with a lone ellie bull

I was completely mesmerized looking over beautiful Kruger, watching as the hadedas were coming in for landing on the old railway bridge for the night. The river gently flowed under the Crocodile Bridge, and the soft sound of the rapids made me feel at peace. All of my senses felt so alive.

...And then I heard this sound. A loud, and powerful growling sound, like something sawing over wood. At first I thought it was a lion, and then an impala ram, because they’re in rutting season, but the noise was so unfamiliar to me, and not one that I’m used to at all.

But then I clicked, it was a leopard! A leopard I thought, how wonderful. I couldn’t actually believe what I was hearing. I’d never heard a leopard here before. Gramps and Darryl often tell me they hear them, but I never have. 

Just before darkness creeps in

In fact, I’d never seen a leopard here either. The closest leopard I have seen to Crocodile Bridge, was just off the H4-2 on the S28. I always put it down to too many lions in the area and not enough trees... but now I know better.

It was an eerie sound, and the leopard didn't sound too far away. Being on the edge of our property all alone, had me a little nervous, so I headed to the deck to catch the last moments of magic hour.

While sitting on the deck, the trees on the horizon and the lone elephant bull turned into silhouettes, I heard the leopard growl a couple more times. I scanned the bush with my binos, but couldn’t see a thing. I told my family, what I’d heard and I could see they they were in slight disbelief. Then Darryl played me a video (which I’ve attached below for you to listen too) of a leopard growling, and that was definitely what I heard!

Often over the last few days, when I'm on my golden hour walks, I’ve thought of the elusive leopard and hoped he’d show himself.

Last night the hyenas howled so loudly, and as the noise drifted through the valley, the jackals began to cry, and then the lions began to roar. It was magical, as I kept waking up to listen to all the night sounds. I often lie awake wondering, what is going on out there, and so wishing I could witness all of it.

I woke up in the early hours of this morning, and battled to go back to sleep, so I took out my laptop to do a little writing, and then I heard the zebras alarm calling. 

I got dressed and went for my morning run, and as I circled down to the Kruger fence line, I saw many vultures soaring above and then landing on some dead trees on top of the hill, I could also hear the jackals crying. 

I ran to get my camera and binos and headed to the deck. Scanning the bush, I first saw all the vultures, then a pair of jackals. Darryl came outside and said good morning, and as I was busy telling him there was a kill, and how nervous all the game was, I spotted the leopard!

A male leopard in a tree (for illustration purposes)

I couldn’t believe my eyes! At first glance, I thought it was a cheetah, but then as I focused on him, he was much larger, and darker at the top of his back, and as his tail curled upwards, the tip was white,white, white.  Leopards always look so crisp clean. 

Darryl grabbed the binos and confirmed that it was definitely a leopard. I was delighted, as we watched him stroll along the horizon disappearing every now and then behind some thick bushes.

The visual wasn’t too great unfortunately, but I did manage to get a video, although the quality is rather poor. But honestly, it was my first leopard sighting here, and I felt rather thrilled that after hearing the leopard a few days ago, he showed himself (which I didn’t think he would). Leopards are the most elusive, shy creatures. 

It also felt pretty good to prove to my family that I really had heard a leopard on my walk ;) 

He had obviously finished his meal, and was now on the move. Grammy also caught a glimpse of him, which I was so pleased about as leopards are just her fav! And then, he blended in to the bushveld, and I think disappeared over the horizon.

A male leopard in a tree (for illustration purposes)

Hopefully he’ll be back, so I can capture some lovely photies of him to share with all of you, plus I wouldn’t mind having a resident leopard around here.

On a last but different note, last night the alarm went off, and Gramps opened the curtain to see what was going on, to find a spotted genet sitting on his window sill. He was half asleep, and sadly didn’t even think about taking a photo. But still, the thought that we had a genet visit, brings me such joy. I know that they are often up and down the fence at night, as guests once showed me a photo they took of one, but it’s lovely to think they are coming on to the property. Toni also says, he heard a loud thump on our thatch roof last night, perhaps it was the genet.

Spotted Genet at our fence. Credit: Mischa Kessler

A few days ago, Darryl and I also found African civet tracks and faeces on the property. I feel like with less people moving around here, we are definitely having more visitors, which excites me terribly. Perhaps we need to start doing night golf cart game drives here :)


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