Pattaya City, Thailand
In No Uncertain Terms
Photograph - Digital Photograph
Of all the cats I worked with (or at least tried to work with!) at the private reserve I was staying at in Limpopo Province, South Africa in 2011, this male Leopard was definitely one of the most outwardly hostile, apparently not just with me but with anyone who came close including his handler.
While I do like pictures with high-impact, generally I prefer not to be in situations like these where the subject clearly isn't happy with close human contact, and this one was successfully conveying that message in no uncertain terms, so I only allowed myself a few shots before moving off to try my luck with somewhat more tolerant felines.
As we were leaving this male in peace, his handler mentioned that the previous year a BBC film crew had visited while making a documentary about the big cats and the reserve's breeding programmes. To make the filming easier, the cameraman had inserted the end of his camera through a window that had been cut into the wire-fenced enclosure for this purpose. Within an instant the leopard pounced: teeth and claws clamped fast around the end of the lens and, with the explosive power full-grown adult leopards are renowned for, he ripped the camera through the opening then proceeded to mangle it to pieces.
Had I heard this story before the few brief minutes I had the end of my lens pressed squarely up against the fence, I may have chosen prudence over valour!
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May 29th, 2013
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