We had spent an unsuccessful morning searching for the Mashaba female leopard when we received a radio call from ranger Lucien Beaumont informing us that he had found the Vomba female leopard, Mashaba’s mother, heading North towards the Sand River.
The Vomba female was a leopard with an instantly recognisable rich golden coat. She spent much of her life around the Londolozi Camps.
As mentioned in Adam Bannister’s post last week, Vomba can be a difficult leopard to find, as she spends so much of her time in and around the palm thickets and Motumi trees of the Sand River. We weren’t far away from where Lucien was, so we decided to move quickly towards his position before the leopard disappeared into the dense riverine vegetation.
Within ten minutes of us arriving at the scene, after having watched Vomba make her way across some clearings, posing wonderfully in the morning light, she spotted something moving in the guarri thickets ahead of her and went into a classic stalk position. We could see some small antelope legs moving on the other side of the guarris, but couldn’t make out what it was. Moving in complete silence, Vomba edged closer, until BAM! she was off!
She bounded into the thickets from one side, we heard commotion, and a second or two later, a duiker came careering out of the thicket on the other side, fleeing for its life, straight towards our vehicle! Vomba never missed a beat, hurtling down upon it in great leaping strides. The duiker nearly escaped, but unluckily what appeared to be an open route to freedom had a couple of flimsy Sandpaper Raisin bushes in the way, one of which the duiker crashed into, tripping it and sending it tumbling into the dust.
The leopard ploughed straight through the same branches, diving onto her prey and flattening its vain attempt to recover and make good its escape. The duiker’s squeals were short-lived, as Vomba’s powerful jaws and long, viciously sharp canines pierced its windpipe, cutting off its air-supply and mercifully ending its suffering.
Seeing a kill take place is in many ways the Holy Grail of wildlife sightings. To see one in broad daylight, right next to us, and executed by one of Londolozi’s most beautiful leopards, was truly incredible.
Written by James Tyrrell
Filmed by: Carlos Colaco (Londolozi Guest)
Photographed by: Helena Colaco (Londolozi Guest)