The Nottens female leopard had hoisted the impala into the upper echelons of the Marula tree. It was so typical, so predictable, yet so effective for her purposes. Tried and tested methods worked the best when down below scavengers were already arriving on the scene. These hungry animals were completely willing to pilfer from her in the desperate hope of a free meal.
I felt a smile flicker across my lips as I realised this leopard was no longer inexperienced. She had lost her prey to thieving scavengers before and felt the empty taste of hunger. She had hurt from the painful bite of conflict and faced the haunting presence of fear. The episodes and seasons of her life had taught her well and she had grown wiser.
Now sitting on her throne, high above the prowling hyenas who fought and scrapped below, the full circle is drawing closer. The former territory of her mother, 3:4, she occupies. It is a prime hunting ground of small drainage lines, rocky outcrops and large trees in which to stash the abundant prey. In it, her predilections for impala can easily be satiated and the plentiful water provides respite in the currently ensuing summer heat. She will continue to live and continue to grow. In turn we shall continue to observe and continue to take heed of the same lessons this animal experiences.
Filmed by: Graeme Marais
Written and Photographed by: Rich Laburn