Predators in the Timbavati Game Reserve
It was the 1st of October 2012, we were busy with our afternoon game drive. So far the drive had been pleasant, we had seen two nice herds of elephants, harry the hippo, plenty Impala and a few interesting birds. It was getting to that time of the day when a “sundowner” stop was needed, I had planned to stop at the bottom of graded road for “sundowners” and we were almost there. On our way though we found a fantastic big male giraffe, we noticed that he was just staring into one direction not paying any attention to us. Giraffe have great eye sight and because of their height they often spot predators at quite a distance. When they do this they will often just stare in the direction of the predator until it is out of sight. I have found many big cats by following the stare of a giraffe. The area he was looking into was very thick and although we tried there was no possible way of getting the game viewer through the bush without damaging the car. We decided to have our “sundowner” and then return to the area later on to see if anything pops out.
After a quick 15 minute stop we were on the road again, we passed the area the giraffe was in but could see nothing. I must say I was a little disappointed, I suspected the giraffe had spotted a Leopard and had been confident that it would make an appearance after sundowners. We carried on up the road hoping to get lucky, and then there it was. The unmistakable shape of a cat lying in the middle of the road, a young male Leopard. I was ecstatic! This is what we had hoped to find. He seemed very relaxed and was not bothered by us at all. After about 5 minutes he got up and started walking down the road, it was obvious that he was interested in something he could hear or smell on the right side. Every few steps he would stop and look. After a short distance he started moving into the bushes in the direction he had been looking. He was moving very slowly and cautiously, at first I thought he may have picked up the sounds of an Impala herd and was thinking about making a kill, but he was not in a stalking position at all, he was just being cautious for some reason. Eventually he walked through a large bush, we were forced to go a
long way around to and I worried that we may not find him again, but as we came around the corner we saw the shape of a big cat eating in the grass. It took a good couple of seconds to realize that we were actually looking at a lioness now and not the Leopard any more. We quickly shone the spotlight around the area to find the Leopard, he was lying about 30 meters from the Lioness but she did not seem to notice that he was there, she was much too interested in devouring the Warthog she had managed to catch for herself.
We quickly took the light off the Leopard as we did not want to give its position away to the Lioness. At this point in time we were sitting about 10 meters from the Lioness and the sounds of the bones crunching were all you could hear in the dark still bush. Every now and again we would quickly shine the light over to check if the Leopard was still there.
The Lioness continued eating for about 15 minutes without even looking up, then all of a sudden for no reason at all she stood up and walked away, this was the opportunity the Leopard was waiting for. He quickly stood up and moved in. There was still one nice piece of warthog left and this is what he was after, as he got to the kill sight I remembered my camera, luckily I was able to get one quick picture because he grabbed that piece of warthog and made a run for it, a very wise tactic when stealing from a Lion! Well we unfortunately did not see the Leopard or the Lioness again that evening but I tell you there was a lot of chatter at the dinner table.