|Images of Africa|
|by John Walker|
Okay, this is another stinker, but if you look closely through the brush you'll see the unmistakable spots of a Leopard (Leo pardus)--a sight doubtless often the last glimpsed by its prey. We had reached the end of the evening game drive, left the National Park, and were on the road back to the camp when two impala bounded across the road followed shortly thereafter by this leopard. I got several excellent views as the animal crossed the road and then walked down an embankment on the side. But since I'd put the camera away, by the time I could get it out, turn it on, and try to take a picture, the leopard had walked into a thicket. Leopards can get big--up to 90 kg and 1.5 metres long. This was a smaller one--perhaps a female or juvenile. Spotting this leopard was an unexpected treat--they are nocturnal and solitary and even though the South Luangwa Valley has the reputation of being the best place to see one, many visitors never do. With this sighting we checked off the last box of the "African Big Five": Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, and Buffalo.