If you go on safari in southern Tanzania, the Selous Game Reserve will most probably be on your itinerary. Rightly so, it is a truly wild place with a variety of landscapes, vegetation and a diverse abundance of wildlife. Among the highlights are the various lakes which are hotspots for animals, big and small.
The behaviour of the animals in the Selous is quite different. The animals in general are far shyer than in other parks. Considering that the reserve is the largest in Africa but most of it has been or is set aside for professional hunting companies.
The northern part of the park, however, is designated only for photographic safaris. I presume through the generations of hunting activities in the area the wildlife has evolved to fear man. This fact adds to the wildness of the reserve. It somehow gives you an idea of how the African bush was before we came.
That does not mean that you will not spot any wildlife when visiting the park. The reserve boasts high numbers of ungulates, elephants, lions, leopards, hippos and massive crocodiles. With some 450 known species of birds it is the perfect habitat for bird watchers. We saw saddle billed storks, African fish eagles, malachite kingfishers, red billed hornbills, palm nut vultures
It is said that some of the last large numbers of African wild dogs can be found in the Selous but unfortunately during our visit in September 2015 we did not see any. We did, however, had an exceptional experience with a young female leopard.
Whilst on a game drive at around 10:00 near Lake Tagala, we slowly meandered along, searching and scanning, when we noticed something crossing the road ahead of us. We stopped to investigate, but our guide already identified it as a leopard. As we scanned the bushes something amazing happened; two tiny leopard cubs appeared in the road. With their almost blue eyes and clumsy postures, we knew that they were very young. Our guide judged them to be not more than 2 weeks old.
They wobbled along the road, calling out for their mommy. Gently smelling the ground for mom’s scent, they made their way towards the bush where by now the mother had made herself visible. We could tell that the female leopard was not pleased with our presence, so we kept our distance.
We watched in total awe as the female leopard disappeared with her young into the thick bushes. Even our experienced guide Daniel was thrilled with this unique experience. He has only seen something like this twice in his 10 years of guiding. Indeed, a special encounter in the Selous.