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Kian Barker
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Shakabarker Tours

Kian Barker

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A Giggle of Photographers

Greetings and Salutations,

 

Sometimes you get drawn into a situation that is not of your own making. In addition to this - some things go against all your logical and learnt experience.  Often, at some stage, you are convinced that something will work, but it doesn't. About a year ago I had a couple of intrepid photographers that wanted a leopard tour. I said "not really possible, but I will do a general tour, and if we find a leopard we should consider ourselves lucky!". So we did a general tour and to my surprise, ended-up with two cats. Leopard and serval. Cool.

 

Six months later the same person appeared again with four new photographers, and the request was the same. Leopard please. Well if I was given the choice of "Death or Leopard" I would have chosen death. Leopards are notoriously difficult to find. Anyway, off we went loaded with a good dose of optimism. Three hours later we had one of the best leopard sightings ever. A young male near Catalina Bay entertained us for a good 45 minutes. I have a collective noun for a group of photographers. It is a giggle; as these photographers blew hundreds of gigabytes on photographing this leopard. Virtually for the full period of the leopard sighting, all you could hear in the vehicle were the camera shutters hammering away like 'hail on a tin roof.' A great evening and I thought great ..."two out of two". Last week another phone call. One of those "Death or leopard calls". Against my better judgement, I said yes.

 

That night we headed out into iSimangaliso. Barely 20 minutes into the trip, we saw a troop of sunset monkeys jabbering away at the top of a dead tree. This was on the eastern side of the road near APU (the antipoaching unit offices). At first I thought the monkeys were catching the last rays of the setting sun before settling in for the night. Since I had already passed the location I stopped because of their raucous noise. We then discovered the monkeys were collectively staring at the same piece of ground on the western side of the road. Once I had backed-up, I  told everyone keep an eye out for a leopard, and lo and behold there was a large male leopard lying low with his ears pinned back in frustration at being monkey heckled. He was 40m away!

 

After a little patience we managed to get a few meters from this beautifully spotted cat as he crossed the road ahead of us. After making several attempts at a meal, he sprayed a few bushes, then disappeared into the swampland. Although we persisted for the rest of the evening, no other spotted cats appeared. Ultimately we did get a hyena and a new pup on the road. This pup was nervous and looked as though it was out for the first time, as even some of the street poles spooked it. However, the cherry on the top was an aardvark that finished the evening off very nicely.

 

Eish, now I live in fear for that fourth call.....

 

Hasta la vista

 

The Knait Wrydah

Posted by Kian Barker

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