It was winter and we were out on drive in the magnificent Djuma Game Reserve, South Africa's "leopard capital" when we found a female leopard and boy, was she active. She moved, she climbed a tree, she rested, came down, collected a kill she had made earlier and went back into a marula tree with the kill. Wonderful. As it was still quite warm, I (Marc) sat on my jacket while we enjoyed and captured some great photographs of her through fairly hard light into delightful approaching evening light. As we set off, with dusk having fallen, all in very jubilant spirits as we had enjoyed a really great sighting through various light situations, I tried to put on my jacket and I noticed that it was no longer there, the excitement probably having caused it to fall out of the vehicle. I told our guide who assured me that we were near camp and would retrieve it first thing the next morning. Fine with me and we continued into a most pleasant evening.
As promised, the next day, as dawn was breaking, we headed to the place where we had seen her and there she was on the ground. The light was still subdued when she went into a tree and headed fro something. We then noticed that the "something" was nothing else than my jacket. She also had a kill stashed in the opposite end of the tree. She then proceeded to pay with my jacket as if it was her toy, now and again frantically dashing between her toy and her kill as by then noisy hornbills had come to the tree, gving us the impression that she was trying to protect both her toy and meal. The jokes on our vehicle abounded as she entertained us. She eventually left the tree and we used a stick and a tall person to bring down her "toy", On closer examination, it transpired that the jacket was no more. It was half a jacket, the other half being a mystery and at the same time a souvenir we will treasure forever. We would never have thought that an adult felamle leopard could find such fascination in a jacket.