On the lookout for big cats

Whether you are on safari in Africa with guides and rangers or whether you are managing a self-drive safari holiday, you will still need a keen eye to spot wildlife. Once you have spotted an animal sitting under a tree or skulking around the bushes, it can give you a real thrill to know that you are watching wild animals in a natural habitat rather than spotting them at a zoo or safari park at home.

It does help to have at least a basic understanding of animal behaviour. Big cats are fundamentally lazy and will only really move if they are catching prey, so they spend most of their time lying in the shade of shrubs and trees, often in large prides or in small bachelor groups. Cheetahs can often be found in pairs and like to sit on a mound, a small hill or a rock where they can survey the land, looking out for danger.  Leopards are more likely to be found close to water where there is plenty of tree cover. Leopards will stalk and catch impala and other small antelope and will usually drag the carcass of their prey up onto a high branch of a tree, so do train your eye to look into trees and along horizontal branches as you may see the remains of a leopard kill there.

If you are on a self-drive safari then you are obviously restricted to certain roads and paths along which you can travel. If you are travelling across flat plains then you may find you can see for a mile or two in all directions. However, if you are driving around scrubland or wooded areas then animal spotting can become quite difficult. The trick is to train your eye to look through the bush and undergrowth and look out for any movement. Sometimes it may just be the wind in the trees but sometimes you may be lucky enough to spot an animal wandering through the undergrowth.