Whilst on photographic assignment at The AfriCat Foundation, which focuses on the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores, I was sitting on the back of an open vehicle in the early morning, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the free roaming leopards.
Rounding a corner after shivering in the cold for a while, I was greeted with the heart-stopping sight of a young leopard draped across a dead tree trunk by the side of the road. Martin, our expert guide, informed us that this would probably be one of the two 7-8 month old cubs of Jo Jo, the largest wild female leopard that had been collared on the reserve.
However, on closer inspection, we could see two tails hanging from the dead trunk but couldn’t understand why as we could only see one cub. Then we realised that the cub was holding a small-spotted genet between its paws. With the exuberant playfulness that is so typical of the cat species, the young leopard proceeded to prance about on the trunk, playing with his catch.
He would shake his head and toss the hapless creature around like a rag doll while his sibling, which we eventually spotted sitting a bit further away in the grass, watched the proceedings with great interest.
Every now and again the youngster would lose its grip on the genet, which would tumble down into the grass below with the leopard following in hot pursuit. Watching this game of chase kept us all enthralled for quite a while!
Eventually the other cub also wanted to be part of the action and both of them disappeared into the grass where they made short work of the genet.
Whilst all this was happening, we could hear the sound of crunching bones and it turned out that Jo Jo had been lying in the depths of a nearby thicket, also with a kill, which was probably a young antelope. Only her head was visible.
Having finished with their genet, the cubs tried to hone in on their mother’s kill. However, she wasn’t playing around and only came out of the thicket when she was sated.
This was an incredible interaction and sighting, which I was privy to for three hours and will never forget.