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Night Game Drive


Photo: Leopard's kill - a gazelle - in tree, Masai Mara, Kenya safari wildlifeIf the safari had ended there, I would have been satisfied. We'd seen far more than I'd ever expected in just three days.

Nevertheless, when Pankaj asked if we'd seen the leopard yet, I felt a pang of disappointment and frustration. We were so close to seeing all of the 'big five'. What I would give to see the leopard... on my first Kenya safari.

To my delight, he informed us that someone, just a few hours earlier, had spotted one nearby. He then promised to arrange a night game drive for us that evening. I was over the moon!

We were all very tired - we'd been out all day - and there were no guarantees we'd find it, but there was absolutely no way I was missing the opportunity to see this magnificent creature. It had become more desirable by its absence.

Emma and Marianne, exhausted from the day's events, declined the invitation in favour of an early night. Tanya and I - seriously bleary-eyed - wolfed our dinner and joined several others in time for the 11pm game drive.

Pankaj gave each of us a blanket and a flask of coffee to keep us warm and we set off into the night. A guide stood up through the roof's hatch shining a massive spotlight into the bushes and trees, in search of any clues that might lead us to the whereabouts of the elusive leopard.

An hour or so passed before he alerted the driver to something high up in the branches. Peering through the window, I was astounded to see the illuminated legs of a gazelle dangling down from a branch, about 30ft up.

The leopard was nowhere to be seen, but no other animal could have carried such a weight and deposited it in a tree, so we knew it couldn't be far away.

I photographed this extraordinary scene. To me it was akin to finding a double-decker bus in a tree. We continued in high spirits - our eyes fixed on the path of the torch...
Read on to discover if we meet the owner of that gruesome carcass...


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