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Carnivore Clash on the Linyanti


On a game drive along the Linyanti River, not far from Duma Tau camp, we followed the sound of some monkeys making alarm calls. We came across a spotted hyena, then a bateleur eagle and then not one, but two leopards, moving about in some thick bushes. After half an hour of seeing only glimpses of the two cats through the leaves, they finally came out into the open and we began to get some understanding of what was going on.

The larger of the two leopards was a male, and the other one a female. It appeared as if they were coming to the end of a mating bout, which typically lasts around 3 days with these cats. This female was still intent on mating, and she was showing her intent by approaching the male, and then swishing her tail and rear end right in front of his face. The male had other ideas though, and was clearly done with mating.

Each time the female approached , he would threaten her with a snarl, and growl loudly. He kept moving away from her, and then went up a rain tree. The female began to follow him, and then turned round halfway up the trunk when she met him coming down, with a small impala held in his jaws. She made an agile leap onto a nearby branch to get out of his way. The male leopard landed on the ground running, with the spotted hyena in full pursuit.


Moments later, the hyena returned, with neatly arranged blood droplets on its’ face showing where the leopard had raked it in defence of his food. The male leopard had meanwhile abandoned the kill on the ground, and disappeared. The female then managed to grab what was left of the impala, and hoist it up the nearest mopane tree, where she proceeded to munch away noisily, whilst the aggrieved hyena waited patiently below.


The action all took place very quickly when it happened, and just moments afterward, everything went rather quiet, as if nothing had happened at all.

I am a South African who grew up in the former Transkei, (now the Eastern Cape) and I spent much of my time along the Wild Coast. For over ten years I have been working as a guide in northern Botswana, for a company called Wilderness Safaris. I spend many days of each year leading photographic safari trips with small groups of people through our fixed camps in the Kalahari, Okavango, Linyanti and Savuti regions, mostly. My special interests are birds, lions and photography, in no special order. When I am not guiding in the field, I take part in some of our companies environmental projects. Botswana is a country with a solid conservation ethic, and I am fortunate to be able to share some of what I do and see by means of my writing and my images. Visit my photography page


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