Four leopards on a kill and a lion’s feast.
It was late afternoon and I had been catching glimpses of a mother leopard and her three cubs in the long reeds for about 20 minutes. My patience paid off and I was rewarded with a beautiful sighting of four leopards in a clearing. Slowly they made their way into the tree line and began to play. I watched in awe as they tumbled over one another.
Suddenly the mother began to stalk. A herd of impala made their way through the clearing towards the tree line.
I watched as the cubs lay flat and the mother moved silently towards the impala. Suddenly all hell broke lose! The mother jumped out from her hiding spot and grabbed a female impala bringing it down immediately. The rest of the herd scattered in all directions; one female ran straight into the three cubs who jumped up quickly and attempted to cling onto it. After realising their failure two of cubs quickly ran towards mum and aided her in killing the ewe. One held the mouth and the other the rump as the mother performed her ‘death bite’.
The impala stopped kicking and the two cubs immediately began to feed. The third remained in the tree line and the mother patrolled the area for any other predators attracted by the commotion.
Five minutes later I could hear the alarm call of impala on the other side of the tree line. One cub disappeared and the mother leopard headed towards the noise of the impala. The other cub remained feeding on the carcass.
A glimpse of golden with a black mane. Approaching down the tree line was a male lion. My heart raced as I began to panic for the safety of the cub. He had been attracted by the noise of the impala and had come to see what the drama was about. I remained motionless and silent. The lion continued making his way towards the scene. The cub remained feeding on the carcass!
My adrenaline was racing and inside I willed the cub to move away. My job is to watch nature unfold, without interfering. Sometimes this is easier said than done.
Just as the lion was about to be in line of sight with the leopard the mother growled from somewhere in the tree line. This distraction caused him to stop and start stalking towards her. The leopard cub still fed on the carcass! Several minutes later it dashed towards us just as the lion ran towards the carcass! The cub jumped straight up into the tree next to my vehicle!
The lion pulled away his stolen trophy and began to feed noisy. The young leopard made his way to the highest branches and pretended to look comfortable.
I sat for a while watching the young leopard in the tree and the lion beneath. As the sun began to drop I left the scene feeling somewhat exhausted by the adrenaline rush, excitement and nervous anticipation of the last hour!