Saturday, November 3, 2012

Leopard! (and Mud)

We finished our great videos and headed out to continue roaming the range, searching for elusive animals. We had yet to see the leopard, the last of the big five. We were following a couple of other vans when suddenly, the radio started chattering and all three vans, including ours, immediately made a U-Turn in the road and took off across those same crazy, rutted, muddy roads. All went well until we came to a very serious small stream crossing, MUCH deeper than the last one. The first couple of vans had no problem. We crept down, crossed the water, and gunned it up the other side only to spin. Rolled back down, re positioned gave it another shot. Third time was the charm; the angle was just right, the tire caught and we were on our way.

Due to the presence of the wild vans, it was easy to see the location of the leopard, but extremely difficult to see the actual animal. He was up in a tree, sprawled out on a branch, oblivious to the commotion going on around him. All we could see was his lounging body and his twitching tail. His coloring allowed him to blend almost perfectly into the tree. How in the world anyone saw him in that remote location, up a small hill and through the grass, hidden in a tree, is anyone's guess. All I can figure is that they saw him on the move and followed him.

Remember that stream crossing, the one that took three tries? Well...getting down was easy, cross the stream and....spin, spin, spin. Back and forth, David tried everything but we were well and truly stuck. That brotherhood of drivers once again came to the rescue. David and one man talked about a huge log being in the way; it restricted your approach because it narrowed the opening, however, the two of them couldn't budge the I said, it was huge and quite waterlogged. It didn't take long for a convention to happen right there at the stream...people coming from seeing the leopard couldn't go anywhere and the folks coming to see the leopard couldn't get there either. The men converged on that tree and while they did a fair amount of grunting and groaning, all together they got it moved out of the way. Then they went to work on the van. David did, of course, have a tow cable: obviously this isn't the first van to get stuck in the mud. One of the other drivers brought his rig down and though it took a few tries, we finally got traction and we were free!

While all of this was happening, the travelers in the other vans were taking lots of pictures and videos. Going to have to check out you tube to see if it gets posted :) we, naturally, didn't get much in the way of pictures besides grunting men and watching vans.

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