We left before sunrise as always and as we left the Lodge we encountered drama almost immediately.
Wild Dogs were hunting and we met up with them in the predawn darkness. Ooohhh! The excitement! The dogs spotted a herd of impala and a thrilling chase ensued. They isolated one of their prey and chased it into a thicket where the kill took place. We managed to follow the action and the sight and sounds of the frenzied feeding were indescribable.
But then the drama intensified! Hyenas arrived and tried to steal the kill. A massive confrontation – actually a war – developed. The dogs chased the hyenas – a retreat, followed by a wave of attack, causing the hyenas to regroup and launch a counterattack. Back and forth, with yips, growls, snarls, chases and drama everywhere. It was dark and photography wasn’t great but the sounds! The interaction was phenomenal.
More hyenas arrived, and with the hyena clan at full force, the dogs retreated. In any case, there was almost nothing left of the kill at that stage. We followed the dogs for a while, leaving the hyenas with tiny morsels to finish off. The dogs went to lie down quite a distance away, so we left them to rest.
We passed plenty of general game before we decided to check on the leopard from last night. We arrived at the tree but no leopard and no kill! We did find some fresh tracks, however, and followed these. They eventually led to the leopard. We followed her through the bush for quite some time, and photographed her as she made her way. She must have dropped or somehow lost her kill during the night. Because she is so young and still inexperienced, it is possibly not surprising that she has not learned how to care for her meals effectively.
Our afternoon drive started with us heading back to the young female leopard – but not for long! A call came through with a report about another female leopard with two cubs – at a kill. Wow!
We found her with her cubs on the ground under a tree where the impala kill was stashed way up in the lofty branches of a tree. Much of the kill was finished, and the leopards were relaxing together under the tree. To our delight one of the cubs climbed up to the kill and started to feed. The magnificent sunset colours behind her were just perfect. She tried to move the kill, but being too small to manage the bulk, she dropped the carcass to the ground.
More excitement! A hyena and leopard mom bits dashed to retrieve the kill … both ultra fast. We watched! Mom won the race and retreated back into the tree to stash the kill high up again.
We could not remain as the cubs are too young for spotlights so we started to make our way back to the Lodge.
We received a call about a make and we dashed that way. The make was sitting, keeping guard at the entrance to a warthog hole … hoping that the tenant would return!
We left the leopard keeping watch – but we plan to return to him in the morning …