Leopard In The Dark – Weekly Travel Photo

Wild Leopard - South Luangwa, Zambia

While the racing thud of our heart beats may not have been audible to our insensitive human ears, I wonder if the dull pounding echoed in those of the massive leopard that silently strolled our way. He tolerated us with a veteran expertise that half-ignored us as we jockeyed for position, and half seemed to play with us, the constant click of our dSLRs, the bright glare of our spotlights and the dull rumble of our land cruisers thundering across the otherwise tranquil African landscape.

In the moment, there was little room for fear.  It was driven out by the excitement of having a large male leopard strut its way towards us, only turning to walk around the vehicle slowly but with purpose less than 5 feet off the nose of our land cruiser.  In retrospect though, it is amazing to think how casual and calm an experience it was given the powerful predatory nature of Leopards and their position as one of Africa’s top predators. In the blink of an eye he could have closed the gap, leapt into the exposed bench seats of the cruiser, and caused us significant harm.

Yet, that’s the strange relationship between safari goers and big predators. So long as you stay in the vehicle, respect their space, and keep your head about you…they’re content to leave you be.  To watch you as you watch them.  You know they can smell you, even if their eyesight doesn’t let them make out the distinct shape of your figure.  They know you’re there, but they’re content to focus on their normal prey, and their normal day-to-day activities.  Allowing safari goers to follow and interact with them, at a basic level, as a mixture of voyeur and paparazzi.

It is an incredible experience.  One that I hope this photo from a night Safari with Shenton Safaris (Kaingo.com) in South Luangwa, Zambia helps showcase.

Would you like to see previous Friday Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera using a Canon 55-250 mm lens.

Friday’s Weekly Travel Photo – Up Close and Personal

Copenhagen Zoo Mother Cat

Recently I had the opportunity to spend a little time nose-to-nose with this mother Caracal.  Caracals are a type of mid-sized wild cat which are easily identified by the black tufts of fur at the end of their ears. This has historically led to a number of nicknames including the Persian, Egyptian and African Lynx.    While not actually a species of Lynx, they are fast, agile, and incredibly graceful.  The female Caracal you see in the photo above was just inches (and one sturdy piece of glass) away from me at the Copenhagen Zoo.  She recently had several adorable kittens (additional photo here) which she decided I had spent enough time around.  After her not-so-gentle warning/snapping this photo I decided to back off and leave them to their nap.  Have you ever seen a Caracal?  What did you think?

Would you like to see previous Friday Photos?  View past travel pictures here.