It was late afternoon and I had been catching glimpses of a mother leopard and her three cubs in the long reeds for about 20 minutes. Finally, my patience paid off and I was rewarded with a beautiful sighting of the four leopards in a clearing. Slowly they made their way into the tree line and began to play, and I watched in awe as they tumbled over one another.
Then suddenly the mother went into a stalking position as a herd of impala made their way through the clearing towards the tree line.
I watched as the cubs lay flat and the mother moved silently towards the impala. Suddenly all hell broke loose! The mother jumped out from her hiding spot and grabbed a female impala, bringing it down immediately. The rest of the herd scattered in all directions and one female ran straight into the three cubs who jumped up quickly and attempted to cling onto it.
After realising that they were failing to bring down the impala, two of the cubs quickly ran towards mum and aided her in killing the ewe. One held the mouth and the other the rump as the mother performed her ‘death bite’.
The impala stopped kicking and the two cubs immediately began to feed. The third remained in the tree line and the mother patrolled the area for any other predators attracted by the commotion.
Five minutes later, I heard the alarm call of impala on the other side of the tree line. Two cubs disappeared and the mother leopard headed towards the noise of the impala. The other cub remained at the carcass.
I caught sight of a golden lion with a black mane approaching the tree line. My heart raced as I panicked for the safety of the cub.
The lion continued making his way towards the scene, but the cub remained feeding on the carcass!
As the lion was almost in line of sight with the leopard cub, the mother growled from somewhere in the tree line. This distraction caused the lion to stop in his tracks and then start stalking towards her instead. The leopard cub was still feeding on the carcass!
Several minutes later the leopard cub dashed away, just as the lion ran towards the carcass.
The cub jumped straight up into a tree next to my vehicle and the lion pulled away his stolen trophy and began to feed noisily. The young leopard made his way to the highest branches and tried to look comfortable.
I sat for a while watching the young leopard in the tree and the lion beneath. As the sun began to drop, I left the scene feeling somewhat exhausted by the adrenaline rush, excitement and nervous anticipation of the last hour.