African Leopard

Leopard©, Okavango Delta, Botswana, Photograph by Trina Pate

Leopard©, Okavango Delta, Botswana, Photograph by Trina Pate

My friend, photographer and infamous Nurseketeer, Trina Pate, took this photo of a sleek, graceful and watchful leopard in Botswana last year. Trina has been studying photography with Ralph Lee Hopkins, a National Geographic photographer, who started the Lindblad/National Geographic photography program.

Trina and husband Bud were part of a select group of photography lovers who didn’t want a quick snapshot of a wild animal but instead wanted a great image and would spend as much time as it took to get “that photo” of a rare and beautiful animal. They have been perfecting their photography skills with Ralph at National Geographic photography workshops in the U.S as well as on Lindblad trips to Baja, Alaska, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica.

Thanks Trina for sharing an inside peek of your adventure with this beautiful young leopard.

During our African photo safari in September 2013, we stayed a few days in Savuti Camp, located in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. On one of our morning game rides, we came upon this gorgeous young female leopard sitting atop a termite mound.

She was 18 months old, not yet fully grown, and was still learning to hunt. Many times when leopards are seen, they’re up in trees sleeping. This leopard was quite active, and we spent 4 1/2 hours taking photos of her. It remains the best day of my life in terms of photography. Normal people would have gone crazy, but all of us were ecstatic!

Leopard on a Termite Mound , Okavango Delta, Botswana, Photograph by Trina Pate

Leopard on a Termite Mound , Okavango Delta, Botswana, Photograph by Trina Pate

We followed her as she walked across open fields, through dense brush, around lakes. Sometimes, she seemed to be posing for us, thus she was coined “Cindy” after Cindy Crawford, the supermodel. After a while, she climbed up the tree in the photo and took a nap. She was aware of our presence, but seemed unbothered by us.

We were parked in a Range Rover less than 50 feet from the tree. She’d sleep for a while, move around the tree, and then grab another catnap over the next two hours. After she left the tree, she continued roaming, again striking poses for us. I think each of us took at least 1,000 photos of her. She is probably the most beautiful animal I have ever seen. What a magical day it was!

I can understand why people might want a coat made from leopard fur, but I cannot understand how anyone could look into her gorgeous eyes, and then kill her for her fur. Her fur looks far better on her than on any human!

Trina shot this photo with her Nikon D300s with a Nikkor 70 – 200mm telephoto lens. (This photo is copyrighted and cannot be used without Trina Pate’s permission)

14 thoughts on “African Leopard

  1. You definitely can feel Trina’s excitement and the fun she had taking 1,000 shots of this beautiful creature. Thanks Susan for sharing Trina’s exquisite pictures. Bridget

  2. I could see why Trina would spend the entire day following this distinguished leopard around. What a privilege to have that kind of communication with such a beautiful, wild beast. Imagine her posing for them! Beauty likes being admired!

  3. That was quite a surprise! I didn’t know about Trina’s photographic endeavors and am extremely impressed with the quality and feeling of this exquisite photo. I love the color of the tree which matches the colors of the leopard. Go Trina and go Susan!

  4. WOW!! These are amazing shots! She has certainly learned well and from the best. Brilliant! Thank you for sharing them.

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