Leopards: The Cats of the Shadows“The leopard moves as silently as mist drifting on a dawn wind.” – Indian proverb
The spiked mountain range of uKahlamba in South Africa is often referred to as the barrier of spears. Also known as the Drakensberg, which translates to ‘dragon mountains’, its high, jagged peaks shadow a cave hidden in a sandstone cliff. The cave once concealed a creature that stirred only with the setting sun.
To reach the animal’s hide-out, a hiker must first scale Solar Cliffs and Cathedral Peak, and pass through Ndedema Gorge. Not everyone survives the journey.
A modern sign near the cave’s entrance announces that it is ‘Closed’, as if its dweller had served notice. The inhabitant was a leopard, its lair called Leopard Cave. Near this opening in the Earth is a rock painting of a leopard chasing a bushman who clearly escaped, to return another day to tell his tale in art.
The leopard likely had good reason to give chase and eventually to vacate the premises. Its species, Panthera pardus, has been overhunted and harassed, and lost much of its habitat and its prey.
A leopard heads towards the camera in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya ©Alison Buttigieg - Continue to read here!