Witnessing a carefully planned kill

Grumeti | March 2019

It was a late afternoon drive when I came across the large Mbogo male leopard lying peacefully in a tree. I called in the sighting and was joined by another game-viewer vehicle. I explained to my guests how the process of animal habituation works and how, once an animal feels comfortable with our presence, low levels of talking, vehicle movement and our scent does not disturb them and that they hardly acknowledge us when we park our game-viewers near them.

I explained that this leopard would however react if he saw animals walking in the bush near his position, or if he heard anything rustling in the grasses. No sooner had I mentioned this, when the leopard raised his head at a sound nearby. He had the better view from up in the tree, but even we could see the backs of two warthogs approaching their home – a tunnel on the side of a termite mound.

He stealthily came down the tree and approached the mound, by which time the warthogs had disappeared inside. The leopard positioned himself upwind from the mound and waited patiently to see if the warthogs would emerge again. A large male warthog came out and the leopard pounced! A massive struggle ensued and eventually the leopard asphyxiated the warthog. After a short time regaining his breath, the leopard hauled the creature up a tamarind tree and proceeded to feed.

The leopard was in the same tree for four days, allowing us all some incredible photographic opportunities.


Image by Fokion Zissiadis