Thursday, February 17, 2011
My encounter with Karula and the cubs
2010.02.17 AM Drive
After a magical encounter with an elephant, Patrick and I carried on with our drive but unfortunately it started raining and we had to shut down the equipment and get back to base. On the way back, we hear on the radio that Karula (our resident female leopard) has been spotted with her two cubs on Triple M. Pat and I looked at each other with a big smile…it was still drizzling but the equipment was protected so we decided to give it a go and see if it was raining that side of our property.
We found her more or less 400 metres away from Gowrie Gate on Triple M. She was not a happy cat…wet and very aggressive! One of the rangers on site told us that she almost jumped in his vehicle a few minutes ago so we had to be careful. Especially with that blue cover all over the equipment! We stayed quite far from her but we could hear her growling. It was drizznling too much to switch the 3D rig back on so I just grabbed my still camera and decided to snap a few shots. She was lying in the long grass when all of a sudden in my viewfinder I realise that one of her cubs is actually with her, trying to climb on her back. Clik Clik Clik…in the box!
At that stage Patrick is busy talking in shangaan with Andrew , one of the rangers from Cheetah Plains. Andrew is explaining to him that a little bit earlier, a hyena was there and Karula had no choice but to climb up a tree with her cubs. She is now on the ground with one of them but we didn’t know where the second one was. I snapped a few more shots and then we decided to get back to base as the rain was getting heavier and heavier. As Patrick turned the vehicle around I spotted the second cub up a false marula tree. He did not look happy either! Shame…Once again I pulled my SLR camera out of the bag and quickly snapped a few shots of him…in the box little one!
Back to base, I explained the all thing to Tara and of course her first reaction was…”I want to go there with the behind the scene camera, get some shots, spend some time with them and see what happens”. Of course my reaction back at her was…A big smile on my face and a “I am coming with you!” So there we are Tara and I, in Jigga this time, getting incredibly wet on Tripple M waiting for our turn to get back into the sighting (never more than 3 vehicles per sighting). Pretty funny I thought…the things we do when we have a passion!
When we finally got back into the sighting we found Karula much more relaxed, still on the ground with one cub up a tree (a different tree this time) looking very unhappy! We could not find the second cub but Tara thought it was also up a tree somewhere around us. We just couldn’t put our eyes on it. We spent some time with them, snapped a few shots and recorded some footage for all of you.
It stopped raining so we decided to get back to base and come back with Ganda and the 3D rig to get back to LIVE for you. And so we did. And so was I, back at the back of Ganda, ready to share with you some great footage of Karula and her cubs. As we got there, Pat and I found her on a branch up a Marula tree but unfortunately she did not stay there and she decided to climb down. She then quickly disappeared in the long grass. The 3D rig batteries being flat by that time I had to shut the camera down and switch to the little camera.
After a good 10 minutes of search we decided to get back to base to put the equipment in charge. So I radio Tara to let her know that we were on our way back and as I put the radio down I spotted Karula walking through the grass 30 metres away on our left hand side. We followed her and we managed to get some footage of her and the cubs jumping in the grass behind her. It lasted only a few minutes unfortunately before we lost her again. We tried to re-locate her for another 10 minutes, driving through some gigantic spider webs with the biggest Golden-Orb Spiders I have ever seen in my entire life!
We called it a day with Patrick and we came back to the camp to put the equipment in charge.
What a morning! I thought you would all appreciate to read what happened. Below are some of my pictures as well to illustrate my story.
I hope you all enjoyed it and I shall thank you for giving us the best job in the world!