A once in a lifetime

07th February 2016
I have decided, and I hope you will hold me to it, that I really need to get better at blogging and sharing images and their stories this year. So after a slow start to January, here I am in early February with the first post of many for this year!

I am currently working through a huge backlog of images, but there is one sighting in particular which was a real highlight of 2015, and which I think deserves to be shared first! Leopard cubs in the Okavango Delta...

As some of you may know, I have a huge soft spot for leopards, I believe they are one of the most beautiful creatures to photograph and are one of the more interesting cats to spend time with. They can be very secretive, and I have had leopards disappear from sight not to be seen again after turning away for literally seconds. If they don't want to be seen, they won't be! Having been privileged to see and photograph many over the years, I can assure you the thrill of each and every glimpse of a leopard is immeasurable. It sets my adrenalin pumping and my heart all aflutter! So you can imagine how I felt when told that there was the potential to see some very small leopard cubs while staying at andBeyond's Xaranna Okavango Delta Lodge in Botswana recently. The female had a density quite more than 1.5 hours drive form the lodge, but with our great guide we decided that it was definitely worth a visit! I was itching the whole afternoon, hoping we would be able to see the cubs, yet alone photograph them as the hours of daylight ticked away. After dark you can't sit near a den as any light could attract other predators, and we didn't want to disturb the youngsters or their mother. Time passed, and I got more and more excited and nervous about our chances of seeing the cubs!

When we arrived at the den site, this is what greeted us- honestly I would struggle to imagine a better den site photographically!

The cubs had were able to completely disappear inside the hollowed base of the tree, but also had a great place to climb, and one of the cubs was incredibly confident given it's young age, and climbed straight up the tree, which was really more bush sized, and then fell asleep! To say I was on a high the whole drive home would be an understatement. I could barely sit through dinner I was so excited, and before you wonder, yes- we did return the next morning for one last try before our onward flight!

Xaranna is not as well known as some of andBeyond's other lodges, but I can say we thoroughly enjoyed our time there, and the game viewing was excellent! To think when they took the land per it had been a hunting concession, and all the animals were very nervous. Now, 10 or so years later, the wildlife is flourishing and the photography is fantastic- it's a really beautiful story of the difference the right kind of tourism can make.

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