De La Porte Dam, Kruger National Park, found just South of Skukuza Rest Camp. A place of peace and tranquillity, where congregations of animals such as elephant, buffalo, giraffe and impala come together to quench their thirst in the blazing African sun, or so we thought…
It was a fiery hot day, high thirties (Centigrade), when I was told about her, that she was in the area resting in the shade of a large leadwood tree.
We slowly made our way there while observing the other beauties that Kruger has to offer in the form of landscapes and general game. Once we stopped by the dam, there was no sign of life, not even a stirring grasshopper could be heard, only an eerie silence.
We stopped the vehicle and observed, looking for any sign of the leopard when suddenly, out of the bush a herd of impala casually make their way to the watering hole. Judging by their ease of presence, almost arrogantly, I thought that we were out of luck and that she had moved off, for her species is well known for disappearing into thin air, almost ghastly…
The impalas steadied their way to drink, only slightly observing the area with the flick of an ear every now and then coupled with a quick glance at us to ensure we don’t try anything funny. After about 10 minutes, they had finished their drink and slowly made their way back into the African bush from where they came, with no sign of her at all… or so we thought…
A mere few minutes passed as we were still admiring the beautiful yet dry scene when we saw another herd of impala make their way towards the dam, this time more cautiously. The air was hot without as much as a breeze in the sky to cool down our faces saturated in drops of sweat. It was then, unexpectedly that she moved, given away by only a flick of the tail as she slithered silently through the grass like a serpent towards her quarry.
One would think you would be able to spot even a scrub hare in the short grass surrounding the dam, but not her species, they move with unmatchable concealment, a silent predator. She slithered towards the dam, with intention of getting as close as possible to the life source, in which the impala were slowly heading too, only looking up every now and then to make sure they were still on due course.
The impala slowly approached, very cautiously and on high alert, as usual when animals approach a watering hole. Hearts thumping, eyes focused like snipers, we watched on in anticipation for what we could possibly witness, you could almost hear the drops of sweat landing like landmines on the rubberised floor.
She tensed her streamline, muscular body, like an arrow in a tightened bow, readying herself for the sudden spring in action, but with the patience only a leopard has, she waited…
Seconds felt like hours as we waited, losing sight of her in the grass. The air was calm, the sun was baking, and the temperatures were rising to what felt like boiling point when suddenly, like a bullet out of a barrel, dust erupted, and she shot out with lightning speed straight for her target.
Her only mistake was her small size, as she leapt onto the impala, claws like razor blades slicing into its rump and her canines digging deep as she hit her mark. Time froze and for a brief moment life stood absolutely still. Her efforts were denied by a composed impala, but not without pain and effort.
She had failed, embarrassingly watching her prey run off into the bush, disappearing in the thickets instantly, beaten by her own meal she wandered off also, melting away like a droplet in the ocean waiting eagerly for her next victim.
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