We left the camp shortly before sunrise. After driving around for a short while we found two cheetahs moving around slowly. The mother and her subadult son were not really going about with much purpose so when we received word about a leopard in a tree with an impala kill we quickly raced to that sighting.
We arrived to find not only the leopard and the kill in the tree with her subadult cub. A male leopard arrived on the scene intent on stealing the kill from the female.
He leaped up into the tree – and just then nine lionesses arrived, also wanting to pinch the kill.
It was so exciting to watch. We didn’t take our eyes from the action for a second. The lions milled around the base of the tree, constantly looking up to decide their next action. And their next move caused our heartbeats to hammer so much that we felt that even we held our breath, our heartbeats were surely audible. Why? One of the lions leaped up into the tree! The female leopard ran away, leaving her cub with the kill, the male leopard, and the lioness in the tree! Wow!
The lion managed to reach the kill and proceeded to move it around until it dropped to the ground. As the carcass dropped the whole pride grabbed it, and the fighting, tussling, snarls, spitting, swiping vicious claws at each other created a terrifying, frenzied scene. The two leopard left in the tree watched very uneasily, and we could see that the male was really keen to leave the action far behind. He was most unhappy. On several occasions he attempted to leave the tree but each time he would try, there were just too many lions.
Eventually the Leopard managed to get about half way down the huge tree. We wondered what he would do next? Oh my goodness!
Who would have guessed – the hapless leopard flew through the air and hurtled to the ground! We were shocked, astounded, and almost dropped our cameras. And as soon as the lions saw the leopard they were onto him. This is the end, we thought. But the leopard managed to bolt away, but not far away – about 50 meters further on he leaped into another tree, with lions once again all around the base of that tree …
The lions gave up on the leopard after a few minutes and returned to the tree where they had eaten the stolen impala, and the leopard took the opportunity to slink away and disappear into the bush! Whew! The action!
After all that excitement we returned to the camp for lunch and when we set out again in the afternoon we headed to the two cheetahs we saw on the morning drive. We found them starting to hunt. They climbed termite mounds to check the area for prey, and luckily for us, the lighting was glorious, and the cheetahs seemed to choose the most ideal mounds and spots for photography. When they spotted two impala they started to stalk them in earnest. We – and the cheetahs – were unaware that the impala were being stalked by a leopard!
The next moment the impala spotted one of cheetah and started to run. The leopard then saw the cheetahs and started to chase the two! It was unbelievable action! The cheetahs ran away, and being much faster than the leopard, they easily outstripped him. After about 100 meters they settled on a termite mound to watch their pursuer. The leopard advanced close enough for us to photograph him with the cheetahs. When he came a bit too close the cheetahs got up and ambled off into a thicket just as the sun was setting.
What a day! After sundowners we returned to the camp, still excited and somewhat dumbfounded at the events on both game drives. Wow! What could tomorrow hold for us …