This one was my gift from the photography gods. On a safari some years ago, my guide Tesha and I headed out for the evening game drive around 4:30. When we saw several vehicles around a tree, we knew it was probably a leopard. We joined them and saw a large, beautiful male in the tree. It was a bit crowded and while I had a good view of the leopard, I couldn’t get the shot I wanted because there were branches across his face. We thought about leaving but by that time, there were vehicles behind us, so we stayed put.
Eventually the leopard came down the tree. He headed in our direction and disappeared into the brush behind us. After a few minutes, most of the vehicles departed, but we and two other vehicles remained. We were backing out when we saw the leopard in the brush. The people in the other vehicles had a good vantage point for photos, but there wasn’t room near them, so Tesha positioned the vehicle at a right angle to the other vehicles. I couldn’t get an unobstructed shot, but was content to watch the leopard—it was the first time I had seen one that wasn’t up in a tree—without taking photos.
After several minutes, the leopard stood up and started in our direction. Then the most incredible thing happened—the leopard walked out of the brush, up to my side of the vehicle, back to the rear tire and went under the vehicle. We could not believe it! We looked all around the vehicle and there was no other place he could be. We kept watch but he did not reappear. Finally, since we had to be back at the lodge by 7:00, Tesha started the vehicle. We thought the leopard would come out at the sound of the motor, but he didn’t, so Tesha moved the vehicle slowly forward until he appeared. I was at the back of the vehicle with my camera and got the most close-up picture of a leopard I’ve ever gotten.
For more entries in this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Against the Odds, click here.
Image © Melissa Corcoran.