The leopard at the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria is one of my favorite and most willing subjects. This is a black and white edit of one of the photos I took during today’s Zoo Fun Walk.
This leopard had just caught a big bushbuck in Pilanesberg. I’m not sure how that was even possible, I’ve never seen bushbuck there, and he just catches one! He was still panting heavily in the shade of a bush. His kill was lying a meter off, too heavy to be carried up a tree. Later, that night, a couple of lions chased the leopard away and feasted on his kill. Such hard work, and so little joy from it!
We went to Pilanesberg to spot some leopards, and actually we were quite successful. We saw a young male enjoying his catch about three meters from our car. Under a dense bush. Then there was a female with her catch – behind a tree. And then, the top of our sightings, a female with cub. In a very leafy tree, 30 meters away.
After three days we had seen spots, tails and whiskers, but little more than that. So when we arrived in Madikwe, we told our guide that we really would love to see a leopard with a complete body not hidden by bushes.
And we got what we came for! Leopards are not as often seen in Madikwe as in Pilanesberg, but we were lucky that this male had killed an impala two nights before and was still working his way through the carcass. He even deigned to look our way! Happy!
I don’t care who you are, the pressure is on to go to the next task immediately. What happened to the days of hanging out in the hammock all afternoon?
– Josh Brolin
My practice leopard in the National Zoological Garden in Pretoria. Looking a bit melancholy here!
From three months old, leopard cubs start to accompany their mother on the hunt. This one, though, was left to fend for itself during the day while his mother was… what? Hunting? Going to work? Shopping? I don’t know. At the end of the day he grew restless and tried his luck on some guinea fowls, who laughed at his attempts to catch them. There are a lot of skills a young leopard has to learn. They often do not leave their mothers until they are a year or a year and a half old. Some may even stay for longer than that.
“The ideal of calm exists in a sitting cat”
– Jules Renard
The beautiful leopard at Pretoria Zoo has just finished its meal of a whole chicken – but I feel he’s asking me for more!
Photographing a leopard in the zoo is a different challenge than finding a leopard in the wild. No adrenaline rush here! But the lightning conditions can be challenging – for this image I set an ISO of 1600, so there is quite a bit of noise when you zoom in. I love it though!