The tracking of the leopard in itself was marvelous to be part of, but the execution of the kill, on his behalf, was sublime to watch. As guides we spend countless hours in the bushveld, hoping for a handful of moments like this. I got exceptionally lucky the other evening and got to watch the notorious Camp Pan male leopard stalk and successfully kill an impala ram.
The set up was perfect, he had calculated the wind direction and the cover together with the movement of the small bachelor herd. He sat motionless for about half an hour carefully weighing up all options and waiting for his moment. In a split second it arrived. He saw the herd moving across the road to the open grasslands where they would safely spend the night. Instantly, he knew that he could now use the long grass on the side of the road to cover a swift approach. It was now or never!
His entire body dropped…shoulders high, tail low and ears down, he sprinted along the road. Almost cheetah-like. He covered the 60 meters in mere seconds. The first impala ran across the road, then the second, the third jumped and thud! He hit it with incredible force. We could hear it from the vehicle. Gripping down on the throat of the helpless impala, he claimed yet another victim. A much needed meal for an empty stomach.
Many people say that the great Camp Pan is aging and his physical condition is poor; well, let me tell you, that from what I saw that evening, he still has incredible patience, skill, speed and power…all qualities that make up the perfect leopard. All qualities that have contributed towards his success in the years gone by.
Written, filmed and photographed by Adam Bannister