A few things stand out for me during a bushveld winter. These would be crisp mornings, pleasant sunny middays, dry grass and a unique silence that only the bushveld can provide.
All these wintery characteristics were expertly utilised by one animal a few mornings ago. After a misty morning I found Boulder’s female leopard crossing a dusty road. She moved swiftly along a game path that twisted through some large, leafless trees.
With the temperature still being quite low, around 10 degrees Celsius, Boulder’s moved decisively through relatively open bushveld without wasting excess energy. I always enjoy finding this female leopard. She seems to have two moods, either grumpy or extremely tolerant. Finding her in a good mood allows for phenomenal sightings. If she is having an off day, she will simply slink down into the grass and disappear.
The winter grass takes on multiple shades of yellow, orange and brown. Watching a leopard move stealthily, undetected through this dry material is simply mind blowing. Their camouflage is astounding.
The Boulder’s female leopard was born around mid-August 2012. She was sired by the Dewane male and Metsi female. She started off as a nervous cub, but started to ease up as she grew older. Through years of experience she has mastered the art of moving undetected through the silence of the winter bushveld.
Boulder’s has a very serious demeanor. This expression usually intensifies when she focusses on something ahead of her. Despite her stern look, she has beautifully thick and dark rosettes aiding in her superior camouflage. She is also very easy to identify as she has a kink about halfway up her tail.
I managed to spend a good part of the morning with this strikingly beautiful leopard. As the sun rose higher and the temperature started to climb, Boulder’s made her way through an impenetrable drainage line. I watched her follow an overgrown game path and eventually disappear in the direction of a nearby waterhole.
What is the one thing that stands out most to you during the winter period?