Written by Stratton Hatfield of Our eyes on Africa
On a recent trip to Tsavo West National Park I had a unique encounter with a young male leopard. Never before have I had such an exceptional sighting of this elusive species.
I found the leopard in the shade of a croton on the side of the road where I spent over an hour observing him. As he became more and more comfortable in my presence he began to delicately investigate the vehicle. First with a careful sniff and a lick, but then he began to methodically searched the front of the car. He even placed both front paws on the bull bar, staring at me intently through the windscreen.
During his vehicle inspections he would periodically search for food in the roadside vegetation. At one point he stalked a pair of yellow-neck spurfowl, acrobatically leaping into the air as they flushed from cover. Fortunately for the fowl his leap was mistimed and he landed back on solid ground with an almost embarrassed expression on his face.
After ensuring that our vehicle was not of interest he walked towards a small seasonal pool and laid down. We all thought that he would rest here for the day, but little did we know that he had one more special sighting for us.
All of a sudden he got up and crouched. We spotted a scrub hare bounding cautiously through the grass. He made his move and disappeared into the brush. We suspected that we had lost him when all of a sudden he burst from cover heading straight for our car in hot pursuit of the hare. The hare won the race and he was forced to give up. He was quite disgruntled by his lack of success and slowly moved off into the surrounding bush. At this point we proceeded down the road, leaving him to his own devices as he wandered the immense Tsavo landscape in search of his next victim.