Written by: Mark Winckler
During a morning safari in the Sabi Sand we turned a corner to find a dozen hyenas feeding on a baby giraffe, which had probably been killed 30 minutes before we arrived.
The hyenas were devouring this poor little giraffe, fighting each other for the best feeding position and the juiciest meat. A few of the hyenas were acting oddly by vocalising a deep grunt and looking around. I wanted to understand why they were acting this way so I too was looking around the area for anything out of the ordinary, when I spotted a big male leopard sitting about 30 metres from where the hyenas were feeding.
We realised that this big leopard was the dominant male leopard named Xovonekela, and that he had probably killed the new born giraffe. He was most likely about to stash the carcass in a tree when the hyenas arrived on the scene and stole the kill that he had worked so hard for.
Xovonekela was no match for all these hyenas, which would have definitely injured him if he had tried to fight them. He sat there staring at the hyenas while they got to feast on his kill.
While all this was happening, we noticed a newcomer arrive on the scene – the baby giraffe’s mother. She walked around on the outskirts of the commotion, stopping every few steps to take a look at what the hyenas were doing to her newborn baby. After about 10 minutes she eventually left and we didn’t see her again.
Xovonekela also got tired of watching the hyenas and eventually moved off into a drainage line while the clan of hyenas finished off the baby giraffe.