A LEOPARD HUNT IN BOTSWANA, CHOBE NATIONAL PARK LINYANTI
It is September 2008 and I’m leading a 14 nights safari for my regular guests who came to Africa to look for a leopard. Paul and Ann from England, this time around they have booked with me for a full bag safari of a life time memory for 14 nights here in northern Botswana as their safari guide.
The first two game drives did not produce any results due to the fact that is very dry and the leopard has changed its routine. We drove to all the water holes that was within the territory of one leopard that we have named Big boy, and there was no signs or tracks found.
I felt the pressure of the game drive already but I’m ready to have a nice drive with Paul and Ann. In the next morning I woke up at 05:00 a.m. of that day so as to prepare for the day – and all of a sudden I heard sawing from the helipad strip and the one who was making that sound was heading to the south-west of camp.
I quickly walked them to the main lodge for breakfast. As we were having breakfast meals, I asked them if they have heard any leopard call that same morning, and Paul said: no, not at all. As he was just about to add more words, the leopard started calling again and again and they both got intrigued by a calling animal.
Immediately after coffee and tea at around 06:00 a.m., we drove off from camp to start searching for the cat from the direction it was calling from. In that same direction the ground was a bit thick from grass and shot vegetation of mopane shrubs and after all they were no leopard tracks or signs. I drove to the main road to look for more tracks and we criss-crossed a few female leopard tracks, but with no male leopard spoor. At around 08:00 hours we came to locate the male leopard tracks that walked across the road through the mopane shrub to the west, and tell you what! It was not easy to drive or track it, because it was very thick and right there I jumped off from the safari jeep.
From the jeep to track it on foot and see where I will navigate the jeep through the bush, I walked in the track for 50 meters away from the jeep. The leopard tracks carried on moving through the bush, from one tree to another big mopane tree to revive its territory by urine spraying at the base. As I was following, I ended up walking to the jeep back tracking and all of a sudden, I again looked back as to see what was behind the big mopane tree and what I saw was dust with a leopard running towards the next thick bushes of large fever berries. I then shouted to Paul and Ann saying, look look, leopard, there it is.
My reaction brought panic to the two people, curious and over joyed.by the time I got to the jeep. Paul said to me: Wilson are u sure that was a leopard! And I in turn said: yes that was and it’s a big one, Paul.
After our discussion with Paul and wife, we carried on with the drive as to look for the cat. As I was driving around a termite mound, Paul saw it going through one of the holes at the base of the mound and tell you what!…it was stinking all over the place and Ann was not comfortable with the smell.
THE LEOPARD EYES
By the time we were there waiting for the cat to show up again from the hole, the leopard showed up i’s head first and what we saw was the leopard eyes about few pages away from the safari jeep. To our surprise, it was having a baboon and as it moved from inside the hole it made eye contact with Paul. He started melting and marrinading on his seat, of which he ended up forgetting to load the HD card as to replace the one that he took out off camera. At that point I realized that there was no time of turning back, as soon as he moves the leopard will charge.
The cat walked about three pages from the jeep hopping to crawl under the safari jeep to enjoy it’s stinky baboon meal cause it was getting hot a bit, you know, and we stood with cat for three hours.