When a jackal makes an alarm call, it means business. It is not often that the rangers ignore the familiar yelp of a jackal in the distance and yesterday was no different. While sitting with a wallowing buffalo at circuit pan, we heard the jackal and without question, the engine revved and off we raced off in that direction. Along the way we were constantly turning off to make sure that we were on the right track and that we could still hear the yelps. The louder it got, the more excited we were and the more convinced Jess and Phan were that there was something interesting happening. We arrived at Tu-tones Crest and about 100m off road we found where the sound was coming from, a side-striped jackal and before any of us could attempt to scan the area, Phan had spotted the reason for the yelps.
The Tamboti female and her cub were lying up under a thicket. When a predator is being alarmed at, it usually makes them uneasy as it brings unnecessary attention and with the addition of having to protect her cub, Tamboti was not very happy about the jackal. We were incredibly fortunate that mom had been unsettled by the jackal as it provided us with some wonderful photographic opportunities with her up and down termite mounds with cub following in tow.
One would’ve been more than satisfied with the sighting that we had just had but what made this one so special was that after a while we realised that the leopards had a kill. This was no normal kill, and explained the reason for the jackals alarm calls, it was not one, but two carcasses of the jackals pups. It is an unfortunate reality of the wild that predators will kill other predators because they are all seen as competition. This is not normally done for a food source but in this case we saw something incredibly bizarre, Tamboti began feeding on one of the pups.
The cub was not allowed anywhere near and when edging forward, she would get a growl from her mom to warn her off and so she sat watching as her mom went about feeding. The calls of some impala caught her ear and she decided that they would be a much tastier snack so she left the cub on a termite mound and we lost her in a Gwarrie thicket as the sun was going down. It was a special afternoon and after spending three hours with these beautiful animals we left them be.
Written and Photographed by Kate Neill