One year later…

Last year we had a day to remember...Chada blog followers will recall the night we spent listening to lions taking down a hippo in camp.  Newsletters and blogs and photos flew, and we told and retold the story over dinner in the mess tent, the very tent that was partially knocked down by the hippo and the lions as they fought.  To this day, despite being folded away in the off-season, the mess tent still has some blood stains and a few lion hairs stuck to the outside wall.

Chada camp, 2010

Remarkably, one of the most beautiful wildlife sightings of the season took place on the very same day, but was understandably overshadowed by the events in camp.  After watching the lions feeding on the hippo, waiting for them to leave, and putting the tent back together, we found a lovely young female leopard in a tamarind tree not far from Chada.

She was the most relaxed Katavi leopard we had so far seen, completely at ease on her branch above the vehicle.

Delilah, 2010

Yesterday, as we sat watching hippos in a pool, we saw a leopard draped over one of the lower branches of a rain tree not far away.  We drove closer.  So relaxed was this cat that she barely looked up when we approached her tree.  Then we noticed an impala she had stashed in the branches above her.

 

She looked familiar.  Even cats have distinct features, expressions, ear notches, and whisker marks that make identifying them easier.  After two hours of photographing her as she alternated between resting and eating, we were pretty sure she was the same leopard from the day of the lion vs. hippo battle last year.

 

Last year, we had named her Delilah for her beauty and poised, sultry nonchalance.  Back in camp, we went through our old photos and sure enough, this was our cat, now much more filled out and muscular, but no more nervous around a car than she had been before.  What a reunion!

 

Delilah, one year later...comparing her facial spots with the photo above was the clincher.

 

 

 

And for her grand finale...a special look at the tools of her trade.

 

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