Saturday, 14 September 2013

Wahu to the Rescue

After spending a bone-jarring two hours being battered around the northern sector of Okonjima's 200 square kilometre reserve - and not seeing any of the spotted hyenas were were looking for, we did the only decent thing -  whinged! It was all done in good humour because you can never guarantee seeing exactly what you want to see on a game drive. Anyway, next day, our last at Okonjima, we asked (jokingly) to see "a leopard and two cheetahs" on our game drive.  Nothing was said but we were taken to a different compound - about six hectares - to visit Wahu, a 15-year old male leopard that had been at Okonjima since he was handed over as an abandoned cub when only a few days old. Because he'd had a lot of human contact at that [young] age the team at Okonjima had not released him into the wild as he'd be unlikely to fend for himself. So Wahu was now living in this huge six hectare compound and appeared at feeding times to entertain us (and occasionally visiting school groups).
It was a magical 40 minutes watching this powerful animal munch through several kilos of donkey meat and posing for us no more than 20 feet away. We were not expecting to be treated specially - but I guess after our whinging the guides decided to give us a bit of a treat.  Then after lunch we tracked and found a female cheetah and her three month-old cub (I'll post those images later).

Oops, dropped a bit. Natalie catches a few glitches in Wahu's table manners.
Feeding time is normally arranged for the arrival of school educational groups
While he was munching his way through the meat and bones we noticed a slender mongoose lurking in the background. As Wahu moved from one feeding tree to another the mongoose shot up the recently vacated tree and, after carefully checking his exit route, grabbed a chunk of meat and bone twice the size of his head and dashed for the bush. The leopard duly noticed the theft but either didn't consider the mongoose a worthy opponent or, more likely, knew he'd never catch the fast-moving mongy.

A slender mongoose appears on the scene under the recently deserted tree.
Up the tree he goes and checks the neighbourhood for predators.
At this moment, he's probably more nervous about eagles than leopards...
He makes a grab for the meaty bit, drags it and it drops to the ground.
Almost as soon as the meaty chunk hits the sand, the mongoose is down and running
with it in his jaws. As you can see here, it's larger than his head!
Once Wahu is finished with our bribes, he comes to sit in front of our hide.
He's about 8 foot away and separated only by a murky green drinking pond.
Good close up of the leopard drinking.
Canon EF 300mm f2.8 + 2x Extender, 1/320s @ f5.6 ISO 640
Canon EF 300mm f2.8 + 2x Extender, 1/1250s @ f5.6 ISO 640

Canon EF 300mm f2.8, 1/400s @ f5.6 ISO 640
Both mongoose and leopard drank deeply after feeding.
This is a very lucky view of a mongoose.  They normally stay still for a fraction
of a second only before scooting into the brush. This guy was a sitting
duck for our lenses. Canon EF 100-400 @ 400mm, f9 @ 1/250s, ISO 400

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant! Glad you got a good cat even if you missed out on horrible hyenas.