Last week I was fortunate to private guide a family on a safari to the Sabi Sands for the weekend. We stayed at Londolozi Granite Suites for 2 nights, and spent our last at Singita Boulders.
Last year the Wild Eye team visited the same two lodges, and my blog “Londolozi: It’s Not Just About the Leopards ” is about that experience. The content was all about the Londolozi family and the true humanitarian work they do for the community. I was, and still am, truly touched by their upliftment initiatives. My guests were also visuably moved whilst Lena took us on a guided walk through their staff village.
This time though, it was definitely about the leopards.
On our first morning drive we came across a herd of impala. We stopped to watch them frolicking about after some early morning rain. At this time of the year, the rams begin their rutting rituals – a process in which the males start challenging each other to earn the right to mate with the females. There was much activity with the males chasing one another, and the females and youngsters getting out of their way.
Our guide Jess was explaining the process and mentioned that at this time of the year, they find that the majority of carcasses are those of rams as they are far more intent on exerting dominance than being aware of the danger that lurks around them.
Her words were not cold when suddenly out one of the nearby bushes, a young female leopard sprung out of its hiding place and grabbed a large ram that had been pushed back into a thicket by its counterpart.
The sound of the thud was incredible and it demonstrated the speed and force that the leopard hunts it’s prey.
There was a lengthy struggle as the impala was at least 30% larger than the predator. This demonstrated the impressive strength of these stealthy predators.
After the kill was complete the young leopard dragged its meal into a nearby thicket and the sighting was over.
Amazingly, this was the first morning drive that 2 of the guests had ever experienced in the wild! Some of us have been going to the bush for decades and have not had the privilege of witnessing such an event.
What were the odds of seeing it again on the same trip – 1 in million?
Well there’s more ….
After moving across to Singita Boulders for a night – we left early the next morning on our final drive. We went in search of some cheetah that had been seen the day before, but we couldn’t find them – no signs of tracks – nothing!
In fact, we had seen precisely 3 zebra so far that morning…
Until we came across a large heard of impala displaying the same behaviour as what we had seen in Londolozi.
You may now have an idea of where this is going…
I was busy photographing females and youngsters leaping across the road, when out the corner of my eye, I saw a mass of spots and the unmistakable grunt of a leopard as it took down an impala.
This time it was a large male leopard.
2 leopard kills.
On neither occasion had we seen the leopard.
Nor had the impala.
I looked up at the grey skies and hoped that a bolt of lightening wasn’t about to strike!
Below are some images of other sightings we had: