Villiers’ Bulletin from Elephant Plains: Leopard – Hyena Attack!
It was overcast this morning as we left on our early game drive. We found the lion tracks from the pride last night and followed these, filled with anticipation. We followed them all the way to the reserve boundary where they disappeared into a neighboring territory. Oh well!
We hadn’t visited the hyena den yet on this trip, and quickly headed that way. There were four adults and a pup, fast asleep around a termite mound in the morning gloom. We took a few photos and headed off.
Very soon we found very fresh leopard tracks and noticed a very skittish, alert giraffe, staring very fixedly straight ahead. We followed its gaze, and found more tracks, …
And there was Tingana!
He was still on a mission, still marking everything as he moved along very rapidly … until he dashed into a deep gulley.
We rushed around to try and find him again, but he had disappeared into the bush. As sightings go, that made it 1 all … 1 to us, 1 to Tingana!
After a quick coffee stop –
– we visited the hyena den again where the hyena pup was awake and intent on bothering all the adults. One could almost hear him saying ‘come on, wake up!’ as he pulled ears, jumped over the sleeping bodies, grabbed tails, and generally made an absolute nuisance of himself – until the adults were up.
Back to the Lodge for breakfast …
This afternoon we planned to go the east where we had heard the two mating leopards had been sighted, but we were sidetracked long before we got close.
First, we spotted a pair of Saddle-billed Storks, wings outstretched, and preparing for takeoff. We stopped and photographed them until eventually they did take off, again giving us perfect photo opportunities.
As we arrived at Big Dam, a huge elephant bull was just leaving, having finished his drink and splash. And lying in the mud on the edge of the dam was one of the most enormous crocodiles we have seen in ages.
We were photographing the croc when we received a call that Shadow, a mother leopard, and her seven month old cub had been spotted not too far away. We arrived to find the pair feasting on a Common Duiker.
And then the drama started. All was peaceful at first, as mother and her little cub ate quietly, and occasionally gazed around.
Then a hyena arrived and brazenly started to approach the duo as they ate. The cub looked up, and was visibly afraid as it scampered away to a nearby Maroela Tree. But Shadow was having none of it! After a quick glance to ensure that her cub was safe, she attacked the hyena with a fury that is evoked in a protective mother!
Uh oh, we thought! End of hyena? What would it do. After a momentary surprise the hyena lunged back at Shadow – forcing her to retreat. Then hyena then dashed closer to grab the carcass and started to drag it away. Again Shadow charged, fangs bared, claws out, but the hyena was not prepared to relinquish its spoils. It clung onto the remains and scampered away as fast as possible.
The scene ended with Shadow and her cub in the Maroela Tree and the hyena a short distance away with the carcass.
We have heard that the Breakaway Pride of lions is on the reserve border, hopefully heading our way. We plan to check in the morning …