I’ve recently witnessed my first leopard kill. I am now at Punda Maria camp, the most northerly camp in Kruger.
Two nights ago, Thomas Mathebula and Themba Mnisi took me out on a sunset drive. We didn’t see too much initially, but on our way back to camp, we came across a female leopard stalking in the grass on the side of the road. At first, we thought it was aiming for a spring hare, which bounced away as soon as the leopard approached. But the cat was clearly seeing something we couldn’t. Then we spotted a male impala, lying low in the tall, dry grass. All we could see were its horns.
Patiently, the leopard crept closer and closer, and after about twenty minutes, it made it’s move. It all happened in a blink of an eye, literally. The leopard must have covered about ten metres in less than a second, and the impala had no chance. The cat had grabbed the impala on its snout, and was trying to hold it down on the ground, but the male impala actually got to its feet, and started walking backwards, dragging the leopard with it! But soon the cat bowled the impala over, and got its sharp teeth into its throat. It didn’t take more than a minute for the impala to die.
The leopard starting eating immediately from the impala’s underbelly, and after twenty minutes, she walked off a bit to clean her paws. From there, she headed across the road, leaving the kill. Thomas thinks that she has cubs, and was going to fetch them to eat from the antelope. We had to head back to camp, because it was getting late, but the next morning, I headed back there early, but unfortunately, there was no sign of the dead impala or the leopards. Perhaps she had dragged the kill into a tree, or hyenas had got hold of it…
What a privilege to see this incredible spectacle…something that has been going on in Africa for millions of years, and as brutal as it seems, it’s a very necessary part of nature. Without the meat of the impala, the leopard cubs would die. The blood of the impala is intricately linked to the blood of the leopard…as it is to ours. We’re all made of the same stuff, and we all originated from the same place – the wild landscapes of Africa.
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