On my recent Zambia trip we were treated to numerous leopard sightings. We saw one almost every day. Then one day we saw five different leopards. The first sighting was on a night drive where found a leopard stalking. He rolled his shoulders as he silently approached a sleeping impala calf. He made his move, leaping down onto the impala’s back, killing it instantly.
Our leopard encounters grew more dramatic. One morning we were alerted to leopard through the alarm calls of vervet monkeys. A stunning male leopard came into view, stopping a moment to swipe at flies. He then sauntered along the road into a neighbouring lodge where he became interested in a rustling sound in the scrub and went to investigate.
A metre long monitor lizard pushed its way out and made a run for it, but not fast enough. The leopard killed it swiftly and then, like a kitten playing with a ball of wool, rolled around with it. He was clearly enjoying the moment. He give it a lick, decided it was most unpleasant and then sauntered off. The experience gave us a macabre insight into leopard behaviour.
Nothing is wasted in Africa and the monitor lizard would soon become a good meal for scavengers. Our leopard was still hungry so he found his favourite lookout tree to search for game. As he climbed he paused to scratch his scent on the tree trunk. Arching his body and stretching out those beautiful shoulders was a magnificent sight. It was this that provided the inspiration for my latest leopard sculpture.
I decided to mount my leopard sculpture on a piece of wood. I used a piece of Welsh driftwood mounted onto Delabole slate. Once the leopard sculpture was bisque fired I painted the glaze. This took a lot of concentration because leopard spots lie in specific patterns. After the second firing I fixed the leopard sculpture to the wood. This sculpture has been entered into the ‘Wildlife Artist of the Year’ competition and will be exhibited in The Mall Galleries in June 2014.