Nothing can beat the sight of a magnificent leopard, on the move, after dark. I’m lucky enough to be exploring leopard country with a man who knows it inside out – veteran guide Phil Berry.
During his many years in the Luangwa Valley he has done everything from camping out in the bush for days on end on anti-poaching patrols to escorting celebrated naturalists on filming trips. So far on this trip, our night drives have revealed nothing special – an antelope here, a scrub hare there.
But this time, as we drive through the velvety darkness, Phil spots a leopard. It’s just a glimpse, and it’s moving away. We’re convinced that it will disappear out of sight, but Phil makes a noise like a yelping cub and, miraculously, it stops in its tracks.
Gradually, with an impressive repertoire of calls and leaf-scuffling noises, he cajoles it into a slow approach. Eventually it freezes, just a few feet from our vehicle – a sight I’ll never forget.
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