On the scent of a classic moment at Leopard Creek
A stately lioness treads cautiously through the bushveld, close to the Leopard Creek golf course.
Every slow motion step takes her an age as she silently stalks a herd of grazing impala.
One of the world’s most distinctive golf events, the Alfred Dunhill Championship, is taking place just a hundred metres away, but the lioness is oblivious, focused solely on her prey.
The impala did not spot her, but award-winning photographer Grant Leversha did. And captured her in this remarkable shot.
Grant said: “It was around 4pm on the Saturday of the Championship and I was on the service road opposite the 13th green. I saw two rhinos 30 metres away and got set up to photograph them when they became agitated. It was then I noticed the lioness in the shade of a thicket of small trees and shrubs just to their right.
“Many game viewing vehicles with spotters drove by and never noticed her. She was interested in the impala some 200 metres away. I never dreamed of there being a lion directly in the line of sight of the 13th.
“I spent two hours waiting for the right moment to get the shot. During that time, with the temperature approximately 49 degrees, I was drenched in sweat. My forearms and hands were numb from holding the camera and when she stood up for just 20 seconds I was fortunate to capture that.
“I waited until 6.20pm when the light faded just in case she pounced on the unsuspecting impala that had moved into the area immediately around her.”
The photograph is a classic which reflects the special character of Leopard Creek, one of the most unique golf courses in the world, and home to the big five of the South African wild – lions, leopards, elephants, rhino and buffalo.
The lioness eventually got her kill. She waited patiently for the sun to disappear completely before she seized her opportunity.
Despite his persistence, Grant missed that shot because of the poor light, but his photo of the lioness stalking will remain a masterpiece. “I was grateful to have captured that moment,” he said.