One of the conservation efforts that was happening during this trip was the collaring of a female leopard and Michael was commissioned to write an article about the event.
The leopard would be tracked at night, with dogs, and once they had treed the animal and determined that it was a female, they would call for Michael to join them for the actual collaring.
As Michael talked with the dog handler, he realized that he could write a good article with this information, BUT, in order to write a GREAT article, he needed to accompany the dogs as they were looking for the leopard. So, off he went at 10 pm, ready to spend the night in the Mozambique bush.
The dogs were carried in the back of a truck…..
….and the tracker sat in the hot seat on the front of the truck…..
I call it a HOT seat, but I am sure that he was freezing out there!!!
They searched for most of the night, looking for leopard tracks across the road and, at 4:00am had finally given up and headed back to camp.
There were several vehicles on the search, and they were retracing the same tracks that they had driven on previously. Suddenly one of the drivers (Poen) radioed that he had found a leopard track on top of their earlier tire tracks. That meant that the leopard had only crossed the road a short while ago and would be in the vicinity…..
Michael and Coenraad Scheepers (the dog handler) raced to the spot and the dogs were set off on the leopard hunt. Coenraad kept track of the dogs using a GPS system…..
They treed them several times and on one occasion, the leopard charged Michael and the others, but one of the dogs turned it at about 10 feet by nipping at it. Michael was thankful for the dogs!!!
Once the cat was finally treed, they called the camp for the other players to come. This included the veterinarian who would dart the cat, Dan Cabela (who was funding the collar), many guys who would help with the capture, and a film crew.
When I woke up that morning, Michael’s bed was still unslept in, and I was hoping that he was having a wonderful time. I dressed and made my way to the pavilion area. I was enjoying my morning tea and thinking to myself that the camp was quiet this morning and the call came in “CAT IN THE TREE”!!
Immediately the entire camp went into action. One person was putting together snacks and coffee for those who were heading out without breakfast and for those who had been out all night.
Another was running to the various tents and telling people to get up and get ready to leave in 10 minutes!!
There were trucks moved from the garage to the parking area and everybody piled in and headed to the treed cat!!
The collaring was successful…..
…and Michael returned to camp extremely tired but exceedingly excited by what he got to do, and naturally, he immediately started writing the article!!
I would have loved to be on this adventure too, but after I saw the scratches on his arms and heard the story of how his glasses were lost somewhere in the dense brush, I was perfectly happy to have slept thru the whole thing!!