Witnessing a leopard kill from start to finish!
(Not for sensitive readers)
Wildlife documentaries on National Geographic and the Discovery Channel are full of violence – prides of lions taking down old buffalo bulls and wild dogs ripping apart helpless impalas – and despite the gore, it remains the one thing all guests coming to the African bush want to see: a kill!
One afternoon I was assigned to drive N.C.P. group leaders from area to area, for ‘action shots’ of the guests on drive to help them remember their African trip. Initially I searched for hyenas, driving from one hot spot to the next in the hope of bumping into these spotted hunters. Instead, we landed an once-in-a-lifetime sighting of a leopard kill taking place just five metres from our vehicle.
A commotion caught my eye in the far south of the reserve, just as I was about to make a turn-off. Dust filled the air, and as we looked, a spotted cat bolted toward an impala herd. Before we could properly make sense of the scene that was playing out in front of us, we heard the distress calls of an animal in danger.
To our surprise, the leopard had captured a warthog instead of an impala. The hog’s den was located behind the thicket in which the impalas were feeding and Mr. leopard obviously caught it before it could duck underground. The warthog put up a brave fight, squealing and kicking until it was eventually, suffocated by the leopard’s powerful jaws.
Only when the dust finally settled did it dawn on us exactly how lucky we had been. To see the whole kill from start to finish right in front of us was priceless. Exhausted and completely out of breath, the leopard dragged its prize into a thicket, took a well-deserved break, then feasted.
NOTE: The following photos are not suitable for sensitive viewers
The adrenaline only wore off an hour after we had returned to camp and, as you can imagine, we couldn’t stop talking about what we had witnessed during our dinner in the boma. Although some guests felt like it was a sad scene, most were filled with excitement and ready for their next drive, because you never know how Mother Nature will amaze you next!
Francois van Rhyn
Kapama Southern Camp