The leopards at Nordens Ark
Yesterday I went to Nordens Ark with one clear goal in mind and that was to get photos of the three different types of leopards that they have there. The Snow leopard, the Amur leopard and the Persian leopard.
Nordens Ark is a private non-profit foundation set up to give endangered animals a future. Their operations include breeding, research and education and efforts to disseminate knowledge about biological diversity. Many of their activities are carried on in the field, both in Sweden and abroad. A place worth visiting if you ask me as it will fund their work.
It was not just that I wanted to photo the leopards I also wanted to use the day to test my equipment for the upcoming birds of prey trip to Hungary next weekend. That trip will be the start for next year’s photo adventures and it will be the first of two during the dark winter months. So it was not just the photo equipment I wanted to check, but also clothes so I would keep warm during the day.
The day went as planned and everything I wanted to check on worked as it should.
The photo material I came home with might not be the most interesting as I only had the 500mm lens with me which means I only could take mug shots on most of the animals. Still the day brought other things to remember. Things that are hard to capture with a photo.
The first extraordinary thing that happened was when I heard the Amur leopard calling. It was a huge privilege to be able to stand just a few feet away when the male and female were calling. A sound that I am familiar to thorough movies, but not a sound I have heard like this in flesh. Such a good start to the day.
Next up was when we witnessed two of the Snow leopards play fighting making huge jumps. I have read reports of this magnificent cat making jumps up to 15 meters and I must say that the leaps they made really looked effortless. One jump in particular impressed me and that was when one of the Snow leopards decided to climb a tree making a jump straight up, it looked so easy.
Add to this that we also heard a howling wolf and saw the Wolverine pair fight over food making the day even more memorable. But what impressed me the most was when I saw the male Persian leopard. What a beautiful beast.
Unfortunately we only saw the full-size of this leopard for a short period as it clearly was more interested in the female in the enclosure beside. Still we could grasp the size of it and I just read it is the biggest subspecies of leopard and sadly endangered.
All in all it was a good day that I will remember for some time. It also meant I could test both the photo equipment and my winter clothing for the trip next week which was great as I now know that I am all set for that trip.
If you want to join one of my trips next year I would recommend both the spring tour to Bulgaria, where we will visit two different habitats, the Eastern Rhodope Mountain and the Black Sea cost, or the African adventure to Mana Pools in Zimbabawe where we hopefully can hear leopards calling during the night.