The story all started when I picked up the guests and asked how they were doing and what they would like to see. First reply I got was, “it is on my wish list to see a leopard”. Now to those who know what a leopard is capable of and how extremely well they can camouflage my first thought was this is going to be a tough one to make come true.
The second afternoon we headed of on our safari, as the route I planned changed in a second as soon as the radio came on with updates of Elephants at rhino dam. Now I had the choice, go for the cheetah that has been seen near the airstrip or go for the elephants with a 5/5 visual. Well off we went straight to rhino dam seeking the elephants that have been called in. Only on the way we found an injured hippo limping on his back left leg, my heart sank as it is not a good feeling to see an animal injured to a ranger that loves to share his knowledge and passion to those who seek it. We proceeded to look for the big grey animals we all fall in love with their soft emotion expressed on their faces. There they were standing next to rhino dam as they were called in, one young male next to the road not even lifting an eye to look at us and the crackling bushes in the background of the rest of the herd moving up the ridge. We all were ecstatic to see this monstrous elephant probably weighing in at 5 tons and standing at a height of 4.5m at shoulder, we were in awe.
After the elephants we came to a conclusion on the car that we can seek out the cheetah at the airstrip and on the way a scream from back of the car, look a rhino to our left and my foot hit the break hard. There she was a beautiful female rhino popped out the bush and to our surprise 3 more sub-adults peeking through the shrub. We followed them until they crossed the road in front of us seeing actually how big they are. We all felt so blessed to see these magical animals knowing deep in the back of our minds that they are extremely endangered because of the illegal rhino horn trade and the poaching to get the horn. We carried on and finally making it to look for the cheetah 1h30 after we left the lodge and ticking of many different animals on the way.
There she was a female cheetah sitting in the grass with her head stuck out and not even looking at us. We enjoyed her for a while and decided it’s time to stop for sundowner drinks as the sun will give its last breath in 20 minutes.
The airstrip was quit suitable for drinks as the sun was touching the horizon and we enjoyed the silhouettes of blue wildebeest crossing the airstrip. The first round of drinks went out, we toasted on a successful afternoon. I started pouring a second round of drinks and there it was loud and clear on the radio, one female leopard sleeping next to the road. My first thought was, wish list, I looked at everyone and said we are leaving now, drinks everywhere, chucking them in the cooler box. One lady out of the blue states I need to pee, I gave her the lavatory bag and say goooooooo, she went behind the cruiser, I picked up the cooler box into the back of the car and ran to the radio to ask for a update, I took the corner and she screamed I’m peeing and screamed back, I am not looking. We jumped in and off we went, packed up everything in a record time of 3minutes flat. We raced and got to the location of the leopard sleeping in the open, wish list ticked off.