Satara 31st August

The Day of the Leopard

This morning I choose to go down the S100 river road, not because of yesterday’s leopard, but rather because of the weather. Clear and bright with a drift from the north to clear the dust.

Scene of today’s leopard action on the S100 Nwanetsi River Road. The sycamore tree is on the right.

I do not get very far. At the great sycamore fig our male leopard is still behind the tree on the ground feeding on the waterbuck carcass. Eventually he emerges and rests in the shade whilst just above him, two noisy Egyptian Geese are distracting him.

After a while he makes his way to the water for a drink.

“Those ..%&$#.. Geese”

Then back to the shade but the geese are still irritating him.

Finally up the tree for his midday nap. Note the bulging tummy.

I spent a good hour and a half with this magnificent animal – surely the world’s most beautiful, All power and mystique. I move on down the S100 but the light becomes harsh and I turn back to camp but not before photographing a herd of…….. waterbuck.

Where the gravel road leaves the river I come across some lions blocking the road. A large black mane snoozes nearby.

The temperature rises to 33℃ today but it is warm and pleasant.

This afternoon I again go down the S100 to check on the leopard’s progress – and I could not have timed it better. He has finished his nap, climbed down the tree and is again feeding on the carcass. I then learn the story about the kill from a neighbouring car. What happened was that on Sunday at 3pm the leopard was up the sycamore when a herd of waterbuck passed beneath. The leopard crept down the large branch and dived onto a female waterbuck below that was of some size. A huge fight then erupted with the two combatants sliding down the bank to the water’s edge on the sand – right in front of some lucky tourists. The waterbuck put up a brave fight, kicking and struggling but the leopard gamely hung on and finally subdued the buck and dragged it to the tree. These people then produced a video (through the window) of the entire drama and I have no doubt that we will be seeing more of this incident, such is the quality of this movie. It is outstanding.

I watch the leopard feeding for some time behind the tree but after a while he decides that he has pruned enough weight off the carcass to be able to hoist it up the tree – which he does.

Finally safe and secure amongst the foliage.

What is amazing to me is that, despite lying on the ground for two days, no hyenas or lions arrived to contest the kill.

What a memorable day.