Gabi (an expeditioner staying for a second slot) and I were enjoying the day “off” in between groups by checking the box traps for Vera. In order to follow this story you need to know one thing about me: I hate travelling the same road twice. So Gabi and I set off on a new-to-us road in the north part of the farm. Thanks again to the volunteers in Team 1, I now know what a kill drag looks like. So when I drove over one on this route (yes, it took my brain three seconds to realise what it was!) I stopped and got out.
Gabi and I, not being experienced trackers, followed the drag about 300 meters to a hole in the fence. Excitement pounding through our veins at the possibility of finding a valuable leopard kill, we eventually realized we were following it in the wrong direction! So we backtracked, passed the truck again, and followed it the other way. 200 meters later we stopped our tracking because the trail led to the mountains. We then drove off to get some cell phone reception and back-up from Vera and Jesaja.
Jesaja was able to track the drag high up into the mountains, but the prey was small enough for the leopard to eventually pick it up and carry it over the rocks and we finally lost its trail. We were keenly disappointed to not find the fresh kill, because that is what led us to the leopard capture and subsequent collaring in Slot 2. I’m posting some pictures on https://biosphereexpeditions.wordpress.com/ so that those still to come can see what we were so excited about.