Ockert Bamm (right) and the tracker, Kabila, with the author’s leopard

The most dangerous hunt: Tracking a wounded leopard through the Namibian brush


Professional hunter Ockert Bamm and staff measure the author’s cat

He’s out there somewhere in the dark, padding softly through the thorns on his nightly hunt, moving with stealth that would make a Ninja seem like a bumbling drunkard. He’s more formidably armed than a Ninja, too, with razor-sharp claws that can eviscerate you with the flick of a wrist, and long canines that will hold you firm as he goes merrily about the task. You can’t help but be a little nervous, because the darkness is his friend, not yours.

Leopard hunting is a waiting game, and when nighttime’s blackness closes over you like a body bag, the waiting becomes interminably longer. But wait you must, because if his uber-keen senses and natural nervousness suspect anything is awry, he’ll disappear from your life forever, leaving nothing but tracks in the sand.


In those minutes before darkness settles in each evening, and again as the first shards of light reveal the bait every morning, you have to be there, waiting and ready. You hope he’ll be there, too, but most days, he has other plans. And even if you do connect, things do not always go as smoothly as planned, as I discovered the hard way two years ago in Namibia.