Cats are still the big draw to this part of the national park and we were not disappointed.
Our first leopard sighting was at the end of a long day starting in Ngorongoro Crater. Manny took us to the base of a tree where a young adult female was guarding her recently killed warthog. As we watched she kept looking up, suggesting that she would try and drag the heavy warthog to a protected spot in the tree. The warthog matched her in size and weight and she looked tired. After a short while she did make the attempt but halfway up the trunk she fell back down, ate at her kill, and slumped down for a rest.
The next morning started with an adrenalin rush. We left camp through the forest shortly before sunrise, the sky just getting light. We spot elephants on our right and Manny has an idea to go off road and line up the elephants with the rising sun. Suddenly, a loud trumpet from the brush on the left changes his plans. This elephant is big and pissed and charging straight for us. Manny speeds ahead, the large cow in pursuit. When he thinks we are far enough away we stop for the sunrise, but soon she is back and again trumpeting and heading our way. We speed off again and finally lose her.
After the elephant encounter we saw little wildlife the rest of the morning. We had a lovely picnic breakfast on the rocks overlooking the empty plains. Soon after breakfast Manny spots another leopard lounging under a tree. This one is larger and older. Her kill, an impala, is already safely stashed in the tree. Other vehicles show up to watch her and wait for her to climb the tree. One by one the other vehicles leave and we’re the only ones waiting. Soon after the last vehicle leaves she makes her move and heads up the tree to her impala, chews on it a while and then finds a branch to rest.
The next morning we pass the same tree, the leopard is again feeding on her kill. We watch a while as a hyena shows up to take advantage of anything that might fall. From time to time a small piece falls, but not much more than a scrap. The hyena waits, patiently looking up, and then takes a rest. All the while the leopard is busy munching down on her prey and pulling it up closer to her to prevent it from falling. Finally a leg bone falls. The hyena grabs the bare bone and crunches it down. Soon the leopard is full and moves to another part of the tree for a rest. The rest of her kill remains protected in the crook of the tree.
We head over closer to Seronera where there are a lot more tourist vehicles cruising the area. They communicate via radio and when passing each other to share news of sightings. Manny gets a report of a cheetah. We make our way to the location and find 3 adolescent males hanging out in the grass. After watching for a while one encourages his brothers to head out further into the plain. Manny says they are teenagers whose mother has recently abandoned them. Typically a mother will bring back a kill for her young and then disappear in the night, leaving them to fend for themselves.
After lunch we spot a lioness lying in the road. She is there with her family, 2 females, a male and 3 cubs, all lounging in the grass. One cub, shy at first but restless, tentatively makes his way to his mother. Once up his two siblings follow and soon they are all on mom for an early lunch. The male makes his move towards her and she snarls. He backs off and lies down near her. The cubs start to nurse, one cub, probably a male, quite aggressively. After a while they get up and move down the road. Manny gets us into position to watch the migration pass in front of us. Two other vehicles that have arrived follow his lead and we all watch the procession. Manny repositions us and we get a second pass. The lions don’t get far before flopping back down again.
September 7-9, 2021
For links to all the posts in this series see the East Africa Safari page.
For a review of the tour company we used see Roy Safaris, Tanzania – Review.