• Conservation & Wildlife

Samara Game Reserve sights first leopard in 24 years Samara Game Reserve sights first leopard in 24 years

Samara Private Game Reserve near Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape has recently recorded their first leopard sighting in 24 years. The reserve said it has long known that leopards exist on and around Samara, having seen the occasional track and other signs of these elusive cats over the years.

‘In 2014, we captured a photograph of a leopard in a camera trap, and Master Tracker Pokkie Benadie had found tracks of a large male in the hidden kloofs of the reserve over the past few months. Yet, until now, nobody had managed to catch a glimpse of the creature itself,’ Samara said.

On a recent game drive with guests, field guide Benedict Phepheng and tracker Jason Williams came across the wonderful sighting.

‘They spotted a large, relaxed male leopard sunning himself on a flat, exposed rock in Wolwekloof, the valley that contains the winding road up to the Samara Mara plateau grasslands,’ Samara continued.

Phepheng added: ‘All of a sudden Jason my tracker, who was sitting on the tracker seat, started banging on the bonnet of the vehicle for me to stop. He asked me “Can you see what that is?” At first I thought it was a rock. But with careful sharp eyes I saw the beautiful rosette spots and the bulky body and that is when I realised my dream of seeing a leopard on Samara had come true. Pure joy overcame me and Jason.’

The only downside? No one had a chance to take a picture! ‘Luckily I had my guests that witnessed all the excitement with us. It was a privilege to share that special moment with them,’ Phepheng said.

Take a look below at the leopard’s track marks, and the lucky group of ‘witnesses’.

Source: African Travel & Tourism Association