A truly memorable day, started off looking for Amani and her cub. We were delayed by some lovely mist scenes on the Talek. When we found them their belly was already full and they were licking each other in the shade of a bush. Amani must have hunted during the night, which is quite unusual for a female Cheetah with a cub. We left her and went looking for a family of Lions with cub on the Olare Orok river. When we found them, we were surprised to just at the next bend in the river, two male Leopards confronting each other. I had seen both of them before. One was the dominant male in the Olare Conservancy, called affectionately Pink Nose. The other one was a young male, about three years old, I saw for the first time in September around Rhino Ridge. Pink Nose was very nervous. He kept on growling out in the open while the other male laid in the bush. Pink Nose marked the bushes and the scrapped the soil to mark his stand on the territory. Male Leopards seldom get in contact with one another. They are well aware that fights could be lethal for both sides. They prefer to intimidate each other and only in extreme circumstances resort to violence.
In this case though, we had no chance to know how the confrontation would have developed. As Pink Nose looked intently into the bushes where the other male was lying, a Lioness appeared behind him. She had probably heard his growling close to the cubs. She stalked him for a minute. In the meantime the other male had descended into the river bed and was posing on granite rocks, looking back towards where Pink Nose was. The Lioness inched closer and then started chasing the distracted male Leopard. Fortunately she made noise while running and Pink Nose realized the danger. He bolted off right towards the bushes and disappeared in the thick vegetation. At that point I was sure the Lioness wouldn’t catch him. We heard rustling leaves and branches and then the Lioness came out again and laid under a bush near the cubs.
We pulled up for breakfast after this unbelieavable encounter. As we returned to the scene the Lioness spotted a Zebra approaching the river and started chasing it for over a kilometre in the open. It seemed a hopeless task, and indeed it was. The Zebra got away and the Lioness laid in the thick bushes on the river banks. We returned to the Leopards’ area slowly slowly, hoping one of the two would show up. And as we were distracted photographing a White-browed Coucal, Pink Nose appeared walking right towards along the river. We were thrilled. We started following him on his long walk along the river. He was following a scent trail of another Leopard. He stopped frequently sniffing bushes, or climbed prominent trees where he felt the scent. I am not sure whether he was following the tracks of the other male or of a female, maybe in estrous. As he walked, he leaped beautifully across the Olare Orok river and then disappeared completely in the thick vegetation. It became impossible to keep up with him. It was lunch time by then, so we had a lovely lunch break with my friend Paul of Kicheche. In the afternoon we crossed the whole Mara, all the way down to Survey Hill, where another male Leopard had a kill on a solitary tree in the middle of the plains.