Not only does the Kalahari have huge herds of springbok and oryx as well as spectacular birds, there are also plenty of kitties around.
The first cat we saw was this lovely lady leopard.
Actually, it was this oryx who showed us the leopard, hiding in the thick grass.
Let me say right here that this situation showcased why Brooks is such an incredible guide. Of course, anyone (even me!) can spot a leopard walking down the road. But most spottings are not nearly that easy and I'm certain we drove right by some amazing animals all the time. But Brooks has a knack, almost a sixth sense, for finding animals. He saw this oryx off by itself, staring away from the rest of the grazing herd into the brush. Brooks kept watching the oryx and thought its behavior odd, and he felt sure a predator was hiding in the grass.
So we watched and followed, and the oryx led us right to this young girl hiding in the grass. We would have never seen her on our own.
Now a leopard is not going to kill a healthy oryx. Leopards are loners and even a big strong leopard could not take down an adult oryx, and this was a young female leopard that had probably just been kicked out of her momma's care to live on her own. But the oryx did not appreciate the leopard being there, and intended to chase it away.
They checked each other out, the oryx wanting the leopard to move out and the leopard snarling back. Incredible and very unusual sighting and interaction!
You won't believe what happened next... It was at this point that Kim insisted to Brooks that he just HAD to use the toilet. Right. Now. His timing has always been impeccable.... So just at the climactic wildlife moment, Brooks had to wheel the Land Cruiser around and find a termite mound (the standard safari "loo with a view") so Kim could take care of business.
When we returned to the scene of the encounter, the oryx had moved on and the leopard was too. But I did get a couple more wonderful shots of this gorgeous girl. We would see her a couple more times during our Kalahari stay.
We spent part of one morning with this pride of lions...3 adult lionesses and several teenage cubs...
They were finishing up an oryx kill from the night before.
I love to watch interactions within lion prides. This momma is grooming one of the youngsters...
Awww...nothing like snuggling with momma...
They got up to get a drink of water....
...and then back to their meal.
The clean-up crew, vultures and jackals, were waiting for the lions to finish for their turn to eat.
Such lovely birds, aren't they?
Nobody's moving in until the lions are finished. Waiting patiently...
Licking his chops at the thought of oryx for breakfast...
Brian was watching from his vehicle too. We were practically the only vehicles in the entire massive reserve.
Another day we came upon this, as Brooks called them, honeymoon couple.
Despite the pictures we all have in our heads, lions do not travel around in families of Daddy, Mommy, and children. The females and youngsters hang out together and two or three males hang together. When you see a full grown male and female off by themselves, it is only for one reason...
Lots of growling and biting going on...a little too rough for my liking, but the lioness doesn't seem to mind too much.
King of the savannah...
Beautiful couple! They will hang around together for a few days and then each go their separate ways.
And then there are the cheetahs. While we were told there are lots of cheetahs in the area, they were pretty elusive for even Brooks. We saw some when it was too dark to take a photo, but early the next morning they entertained us just a short ways from our campsite.
Just at dawn, a female cheetah appeared to be giving her 3 young offspring some practice in hunting.
Lots of spots!
That's another Kalahari kitty, a serval, in the left of the frame. The 3 young cheetahs had fun chasing it out of their territory.
That serval was moving so fast I never got a chance for a decent shot of it.
They did not catch it, but scared it into Namibia! Those cats were moving like lightning!
After the chase, they ambled off to find some real food for breakfast...
Now that's some lovely early morning light...
...on some beautiful Kalahari kitties.