Our final round of the park and once again we decided to head down Gonalebe pare to see if the cub would ever deign to let us photograph it. Half way there we got confirmation via text that the cub was indeed up in a tree and getting to the spot we hit a major traffic jam. It looked like all the jeeps in the park had converged around the tree and tempers were flaring. One asshole in particular in a blue Nissan Patrol was being a complete idiot, blocking everybody’s way and showing complete disregard for anybody. My guess, seconded by the rest of the party was that he was probably a minister’s kid, especially since he was exceptionally rotund.
Disgusted by the congestion and choking in the fumes, we passed the cub in the tree, where only a portion of its rear end was visible, and turned around to leave…only to get stuck in another traffic jam on the way out. Resigning ourselves to being stuck there for the next 10 minutes, we idly looked up at the cub’s leg.
Serendipity then struck.
The cub decided to look up and then look at us. I excitedly started clicking, being in the absolute best position to take the shot. To my unbridled joy, it and then decided to get up and stretch. Through sheer luck and at the end of our tether, we had a grandstand view of what was a most beautiful young leopard.
The light was perfect and the clutter of the branches added just the right touch of the mysterious. I fired off my shots, bracketing to make up for the tricky light situation and changing focal points to blur out the clutter.
The young cub looked into the lens, alert golden eyes, coat shining in the late evening light and as the shutter clicked. I mentally patted myself on the back on having captured the spirit of Yala, the wild in its prime.
We couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the trip as we left the park in the late evening glow.