I am still reeling from the drama that had unfolded in front of my eyes a few mornings ago.
Our tracker had spotted a lone leopard (which our ranger later identified as Dudley Riverbank 5:5) in the midst of our early morning drive. We approached it slowly but just as our truck was about to stop, all hell broke loose! A group of warthogs sprung out of their hideout and the leopard pounced, catching one. The desperate screams of the victim was piercing.
The escaped warthogs could only stare helplessly as their friend struggled and cried for its life.
The leopard clung onto the throat of the warthog. We watched as life slowly slipped from the warthog’s eyes. The scene was heartbreaking and humbling.
After fifteen minutes, the leopard was certain of the warthog’s death and began dragging it, presumably towards a distant tree. The kill must have taken a lot from the leopard as it had to rest after every few strides.
Before the leopard could progress any significant distance, a hyena appeared. The latter was clearly eyeing the former’s meal. Moving swiftly towards the leopard, the hyena began circling closely around the leopard. Our ranger explained that being relatively small and operating alone, the hyena would be reluctant to execute the steal and would not succeed even if it did.
Just as we thought the leopard would have its fill this morning, six lions (four young males and two females) from the Sparta pride appeared from the horizon.
The lions then charged towards the leopard and the lone operator had no choice but to abandon its kill. Three lions chased after the leopard whilst the remaining three appeared to have stayed to guard the kill. The leopard found refuge on top of a tree, staring at its lost meal.
When the three pursuing lions returned, all six began devouring their steal.
Within minutes, the feast was all over. The lions are the winners this morning. The leopard and hyena had to look elsewhere. I am left wondering whether any of our drives the next few days can possibly top this one.
Written and Photographed by Londolozi Guest, Kee Loon
Content and images originally published on Kee Loon’s personal blog.