After taking our constitutional sunrise images on the Serengeti, the sun begun climbing into the clear blue sky heralding the start of a new and fascinating day on the plains. We decided to drive south towards the Grumeti ranger’s camp. It was sublimely quiet and fresh at that time of the morning. Suddenly Waziri, our ranger, speaking softly told is that there were two young Leopards in the middle distance off to our right. Waziri has the most incredible eyesight. Not one of us picked up the Leopards until we were told where to look. We turned off the main dirt road to drive into a grove of trees and low bushes to have a closer look.
“If intelligence is our only edge, we must learn to use it better, to shape it, to understand its limitations and deficiencies – to use it as cats use stealth, as katydids use camouflage – to make it the tool of our survival.”
~ Carl Sagan
We went to watch “rosettes in the dappled light”.
Two young Leopards were patrolling the tree line and its immediate grass surrounds. One Leopard optimistically decided to stalk a Topi. It was such fun to watch. It did not have a “rosetted” hope of pulling the Topi down and its game was in full view for us. The Topi was not fussed!!!
The optimistic youngster broke off its stalk as the Topi led it further out into the open away from the tree line.
“The only sure camouflage is unpredictability.”
~ Margaret Atwood
The “Topi stalking” Leopard turned its attention onto its companion and began stalking its friend. The two played this game for a few minutes before one made a dash for the tree line.
This was fun photography and something different as you very seldom see Leopards running
The two had such fun cavorting. The early morning light was soft and colours saturated, but our subjects were against the light .
There seemed to be sheer joy in their play!
Once out of the grass and in among the trees, the youngsters settled down. I managed to catch this young Leopard in an open patch of grass among the trees. What gorgeous, lithe, alert creatures. This leopard’s spots on its front graduated into rosettes on its torso and hind legs.
The young Leopards continued to stalk each other into thicker bush where the shade was deeper.
“In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may your proceed with stealth and balance.”
~ Patti Smith
These predators were wide awake, with all their senses “bristling”. This young Leopard stopped to listen with its ears constantly moving back and forth locating the direction of the different sounds.
I loved the rosettes in dappled light but it was that eye that caught my attention!
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
Walking quietly in deep shade in the grass wet with morning dew.
We spent a special hour watching these two young Leopards. They must have recently been pushed out on their own by the mother. The Lions and Hyaenas seem so well oriented to the open plains, but these stealth specialists looked to be thriving, while operating in the narrow tree lines between the plains.
“Life just seems so full of connections. Most of the time we don’t even pay attention to the depth of life. We only see flat surfaces.“
~ Colin Neenan
Leopard cubs are born without a clear coat of spots. The spots begin to develop after a few days. This also sounds like a metaphor for their unique skills of climbing, stealth, camouflage and hunting. Leopard cubs will stay with their mothers for over two years, this is how they learn to hunt and survive on their own. These two young Leopards must have been between two and three years old and presumably have not been away from their mother long, so still stay together but that will change with time.
Leopards have lost 75 percent of their historic range across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, with three Asian subspecies in danger of eradication, a new study says. A three-year review of data published in the scientific journal PeerJ challenges the conventional assumption that the iconic and famously elusive spotted cats are thriving in the wild. It finds Leopards have almost disappeared from vast ranges in China, Southeast Asia and the Arabian peninsula while African Leopards confront mounting challenges in the north and west.
These big cats are threatened by spreading farmlands, declining abundance of prey, conflict with livestock owners, trophy hunting and illegal trade in their skins and teeth. Even today, Leopard skins are sometimes worn as a symbol of power by African chiefs and Presidents!!!!!!! Source: PeerJ
“Woven into our lives is the very fire from the stars and genes from the sea creatures, and everyone, utterly everyone, is kin in the radiant tapestry of being.”
~ Elizabeth A. Johnson
Explore, seek to understand, marvel at its interconnectedness and let it be.