Smiling from ear to ear

19th November 2013   •  By James Bailey

Tracker Innocent Crocodile sat on the front of the Landy

Monday 11th November 2013

What a great day, I was smiling from ear to ear. Nine and a half hours in the bush and I drove the afternoon session.

As you would expect with a tracking course we spent the whole day tracking. The best part of which was that I got to drive with a professional tracker, Innocent was his name. What a difference it makes.

We had stopped to look at tracks at Galon dam and then we were having our sundowners when we heard an impala give an alarm call.

Straight away we jumped into the vehicle and raced around to the next block to see if we could find what had spooked the impala, chances were it was a leopard and the majority of us hadn’t seen one yet.

I killed the engine so we could listen again and heard another snort, this time it was to the left so I had to put the truck into reverse and headed backwards at break neck speed (past the turning – oops) and then head left.

As we pulled out into the clearing we saw a large male leopard bolting across the grass. We called it in and then headed back around the top where I then went off road to see if we could get another sighting. Nothing, so we went back to where we originally saw him and found him lying up next to a rock.

We lost him again but this time decided to anticipate his next move and headed to the dam.

After twenty minutes or so he turned up. We had such an amazing view of him here. Such a beautiful but powerful animal. After about thirty minutes he disappeared and this time we headed to the sodic site where we expected him to appear again, he did.

He eventually slinked off despite being totally at ease with us and we called it a night.

The revision that night was abandoned and I had a beer or two to celebrate not just the sighting but the fact that I’d handled myself and the truck well in such a situation.

If I ever question why I’m here or why I’m doing this then I just need to remember tonight.