On a recent visit to the Kalahari area, we stayed at a private game reserve situated immediately to the north edge of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. There a few private reserves bordering the CKGR, and the one we visited is called Deception Valley Lodge.
The area around the lodge is more wooded than wide-open, and home to a good number of creatures. Although this scrub-type Kalahari woodland might not at first glance seem to be a typical habitat for leopards, the area does indeed support good densities of these adaptable cats.
Although we only spent a single night at the lodge, we got very lucky and had two good sightings of these sometimes elusive cats. The second sighting in particular was quite special.
A young female leopard showed up right in front of the lodges main area. She was sitting on a termite mound overlooking a pumped waterhole. Several kudu were nervously approaching the water, and had just become aware of the leopard. She decided to move off, and made her way directly toward the line of rooms nearby. The leopard suddenly accelerated, and dashed under a guest room. At that moment an African wild cat bounded away on the opposite side.
The young leopard then casually walked along the edge of the wooden deck that links the camps rooms. From there, she then proceeded to jump up onto the sloping thatched roof of one of the rooms. She climbed easily to the top, and took a good look around before slipping easily down the other side, onto the ground and away.
The manager of the lodge, Adriaan Barnard, recounted to us how they had been enjoying really good sightings of this young female leopard in the last few months. At no point had the leopard shown any dangerous intent toward humans.
This behaviour is typical of young cats, and especially leopards. They seem to pass through a period of intense curiosity, and as this particular young female has grown up in the vicinity of the lodge, the buildings and structures are familiar objects to her. In the absence of any suitable trees to climb, it isn’t surprising that instead she chose to make use of the thatched roof of a room.
Typically, as time goes by and this young female leopard reaches adulthood, she will likely move off to find a new territory, perhaps close by, ***or*** further afield. In the meantime she is providing wonderful viewing for those folk who are fortunate enough to see her.
To read more about Deception Valley Lodge, check out their website at www.dvl.co.za