There is nothing so remarkable as arriving at the Singita Sabi Sand and encountering a leopard on the first night.  This was the case during my recent visit.  It had been a brief but rewarding sighting as a male leopard walked within a couple of feet of the Land Rover. They are such marvelous animals to watch in their natural environment. Even after spending years observing them, I still have to pinch myself, as it’s barely possible to believe that you can be in such close proximity to them in the wild.

Leopards are not only renowned for their beauty but their incredible strength combined with stealth, making them the ultimate killing machines.  Power to weight they are the strongest cat found in the world.  The male leopard we located was large. There are records of leopards this size hoisting antelope even young giraffes into large trees.  I was anticipating the opportunity of witnessing this in action, as it had been a while since I last saw this raw strength in motion.

Leopards will often hoist their kill, regardless of the size of the prey. This is mainly to protect it from scavenging predators, which are in no short supply in this area!  A short distance from a sizeable drainage line, a small duiker dangled awkwardly in a large tree.  It was rather a macabre sight to see this dead animal wedged between branches, ten feet in the air but not an uncommon visual in the Sabi Sand vicinity and this could only be the work of a leopard.

He had to be close by, the kill was fresh, blood was still trickling from the antelope’s nostrils; my heart started to pound. We scanned the area with painstaking precision, knowing how difficult it is to spot this master of disguise. Patience paid off and eventually I found the leopard seeking shelter from the blistering heat.  It was lying in long grass and with its unique rosettes it was almost impossible to see.

Now the waiting game started. I had seen the leopard and this was good enough by anyone’s standards, but to see it scramble up the tree and claim its prize was what I was after.  I made myself comfortable and positioned the vehicle close to the Apple Leaf trunk where the duiker had been stashed.  It was going to be a good while before the temperature dropped, and I could see the leopard was in no rush to expend any unnecessary energy.

After a good two hours, I heard the leopard coming up behind the vehicle; grabbing my camera I braced myself for what was going to be an incredible show. The animal gracefully leapt into the tree and claimed its trophy.  Almost immediately and on cue, three hyenas, ever the opportunists, scavenged morsels that fell from the tree while the complacent leopard fed.

It was a special moment: one hour of pure bliss where nothing else mattered but the shared company of a wild animal, watching this leopard feed while being surrounded by hyenas in the middle of the African bush. It’s moments like these that you hold on to for the rest of you life.

James Suter, Field Guide, exploring the terrain of Singita Sabi Sand.


Similar blog Posts

Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

Singita Grumeti Fund: A Productive Partnership

Today, visitors to the western corridor of the Serengeti, where Singita is the custodian of a 350,000-acre concession, are surrounded by lush grasslands and healthy herds of migrating wildlife. Thirteen years ago, however, this area was near-barren, as uncontrolled hunting and rampant poaching had decimated local wildlife populations. Thanks to the intervention of American philanthropist,…

Read More
Conservation & Community at Singita

Conservation & Community: Finding the Perfect Balance

Creating the ideal, sustainable balance between nature conservation and the empowerment of local communities, and the environmentally conscious hospitality model that supports these activities, is at the core of how Singita operates. This positively enhancing equilibrium allows us to provide an unparalleled safari experience and share a unique part of the world with our guests,…

Read More

Lodges and Camps

Wildlife

Food

sss-wildlife-report7
Latest Wildlife Report

Singita Sabi Sand

‘Tis the season of all things small. The last few weeks we have been fortunate enough to watch the Sand River rise and fall shortly after a rainfall in the evening. It’s been building up and the few showers that we have experienced have been a delight, as we watched the bush turn a dark...

Read More
View all Wildlife Reports

Videos from Singita

Latest Video

Singita Serengeti House - The Inspiration

Overlooking a well-visited waterhole on the south-eastern slopes of Sasakwa Hill, this welcoming exclusive-use retreat for families and friends is chosen for carefree private relaxation in a home-like atmosphere. This is a happy, vibrant place conducive to bonding and making precious memories in one of Africa’s most beautiful locations.

Environmental Education - Komanani
Community & Conservation
Singita Wildlife Showcase Video
A Wildlife Showcase
All Videos