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Mabalingwe’s Elusive Leopards

When I started working at Mabalingwe 4 odd years back, I always wanted to observe the Elusive Leopard that everyone was talking about.

I was on a sunset game drive and never had any good luck when it came to cat sightings on the reserve. The other Guides had seen many cats like Leopard, Caracal and Serval on their game drives, but I had never been that fortunate. As I was slowly moving back towards the boarding stairs, I spotted a small cat crossing the road at Witches Hut. I was the only one to see this cat crossing into the thickets, and knew it will not help getting excited and try and chase it down. I collected myself after all the excitement and started working on a plan as to how am I going to prove to everyone that I saw this Leopard crossing the road in that area.

That evening I went to fetch my trail camera and set it up exactly where I had spotted the Leopard, and hoped that I will find some evidence the next morning. I was so excited that night that a barely got some rest.

The next morning I woke up at 5am, and, before I went to work, I fetched the cam and just knew that I found something special. All excited, I got to the office, plugged the cam into my laptop and looked at the footage of a Water mongoose and some Hippo. I was so disappointed that this Leopard did not make his way back that night.

I took the camera back and set it up in the same location, knowing that the Leopard will return eventually.

This took another 2 weeks before I eventually got some decent footage of the Leopard I saw. When I saw the footage I was ecstatic with what I had found, and had all the bragging rights on the reserve. We have since started monitoring that area with more cameras and we think that we have a resident that patrols that area every 4 – 6 days.

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