On the Prowl
An afternoon on Kapama is always full of excitement, even more so when you set to go out on Safari and aim to see one or two of the Big Five. During one of the afternoon game drives, we set off from River Lodge, with tracker Noel, along with six guests, from South America. It was their first time to Africa. We were hoping for an eventful drive, to try and spot as many animals as possible for our excited guests.
The start of the drive was rather quiet and peaceful as we cruised past a few dams in the open land cruiser. We were heading to the southwestern section of the reserve. We came across a few Impala browsing on the trees, with two Giraffe standing among them. It was quite an enjoyable setting with the sun at the right angle, allowing for great photos.
As the drive progressed we came to a drainage line of one of the dams nearby. We drove along this drainage line when suddenly something caught Noel’s eye. He explained to us that he saw movement on the termite mound. We slowly moved closer for a better look.
What absolute luck! It was a Leopard, lying ever so gracefully on the side of the termite mound, with the front legs stretched out and head upright. She looked straight at us. Everyone was silenced by this majestic animal. She yawned, and you could hear the cameras shuttering away as the guests captured this great spectacle.
As we all enjoyed the sighting we realised that she had her eye on something. We had a look around and noticed that there were Nyala not too far away from where she was lying, browsing on some leaves, completely oblivious to the Leopard’s presence. Slowly, after a few more yawns, the Leopard got up and gave a mighty big stretch. Cats stretch to get their muscles moving again after long periods of inactivity, whether they’ve been sitting still or sleeping. It wasn’t long before she gracefully made her way down from the termite mound. The Leopard seemed to be quite interested in the movements of the Nyala, and she slowly made her way towards them. In her elegant stride, she stopped a few times and glared at us before continuing on with a steady pace.
We followed her, eager to see what would happen.
Suddenly she started to increase her pace, but very gradually. Her head dropped down, a sign she was on the prowl. It was clear that the Leopard was stalking the Nyala, who were still oblivious to what was happening around them. The Leopard was keen on making a kill. Everyone immediately got very quiet, enthralled and excited whilst wondering what would happen next, with cameras at the ready.
It was important for the guests to remain calm and quiet so not to interfere with the hunt. She was very patient. Every time the Nyala would lift their heads she would freeze, and blend in with a nearby shrub or bush. The Leopard followed them for a few hundred metres and got within about 20 metres of the Nyala. Then… just as she was moving from one tree to the next, she was spotted by one of the Nyala. All we could hear was Nyala barking and alarming whilst running off in different directions. The Leopard, realising she had been spotted, stopped where she was and started licking herself as if to say ‘It’s okay, there will be another chance…soon.’
On the cruiser, we were all a bit disappointed. Not only for the Leopard, but also for ourselves, as we were hoping she would have a successful hunt right in front of us, but unfortunately, it turned out not to be.
When we returned back to River Lodge, we all spoke excitedly about our game drive experience. It may not have been a successful hunt, but it was a hunt non-the-less and we knew we were very lucky to have seen such a unique and special sighting. It is very rare to see a Leopard, let alone see it on a hunt. How privileged were we to have a front row seat to nature on this wonderful day?
Story by: Sean Jones – Kapama River Lodge
An endangered species is any animal or plant at risk of becoming extinct or in danger of being eradicated from the Earth. The 21st of May is Endangered species day. A day we can shine a light on the animals whose numbers have declined so much over the years that they have sadly found a place on the endangered species list.