Leopard and Ground Hornbills!

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We recently set off on a morning game drive and were immediately treated to some exceptional sightings. As the sun climbed in the sky, we sat admiring a relaxed young leopard perched high up on a tree limb.  It was one of those picture postcard moments you dream of experiencing in the African bushveld.

Suddenly, there was a loud call in the distance. “ Oooomph, oomph” it boomed. A wide grin came across Ranger Scotch’s face. “Ground Hornbills!”

Scotch was very eager to show our guests these special animals as we do not come across them very often. “Their call is loud and they could be quite far away, but we’ll try,” he said.

We headed off in the direction of the sound, hoping they would continue to call. “Ooomph, oomph” they bellowed again, and Scotch knew we were close. We didn’t realise just how close until there was a rustling in the grass and two pairs of massive wings appeared. They caught us completely by surprise, taking off mere feet away from our vehicle.

Luckily they didn’t move very far, and obliged us by perching in a nearby tree so we could get a few photos before they flew off. After that, it seemed they were playing hide and seek with us. They appeared twice more before taking off for good.

It was a truly special morning.

Words and photos by Jacquie Gauthier