Two amazing leopard sightings

Kruger National Park | December 2019

Two highlights for me this month were both sightings of leopards. The first was of a beautiful female leopard that we know as the Hlanguleni Female. She is one of the older females in the concession and has been around a long time. She is one of our more relaxed leopards. One day we came across her just after she had killed a baby impala. She had to rush to hoist it in a knob-thorn tree due to the sudden arrival of a large female spotted hyena. This particular tree had no lateral branches for the first 20 feet at least, and to watch her pull this carcass effortlessly that high was mind-blowing! Over the next two game drives we watched her feed while precariously perched 20 feet high, whilst the hyena could only watch (as hyenas cannot climb trees). We even watched her run up the tree at one stage just to chase off a yellow-billed kite who thought it may be able to grab a free bite.

The next was a sighting of a large male leopard which had killed an impala. We found him near Gudzani Dam feeding on an impala he had hoisted in a schotia tree. Shortly after we arrived, he was interrupted by one of the Mananga Pride lionesses, who jumped into the tree before the leopard could get down or get away. The only way for him to be safe was to go up, which he did. Perched at the very top of the tree he could only look on as the lioness devoured his hard-earned meal. Other lions from the pride also arrived including the largest of the three Shish male lions, who made a half-hearted attempt to get up the tree to rob the lioness of what remained of the impala. The climb was too difficult for him with his big bulky weight, so he soon descended the tree only to lie in the shade grooming. When the carcass was finished the lioness descended the tree and walked off into the distance, and all the other lions including the male followed her one by one. The male leopard now knowing it was safe, slowly and very carefully came down from the top supple limbs of the tree. He sniffed briefly where his hard-earned meal had been 40 minutes before but there was nothing left. He kept moving down, then onto the ground, he paused briefly to make one last precautionary check and then moved off in the opposite direction to the lions.