Biggers and Horton's South African Adventure travel blog

As we sit here in the lounge in the Johannesburg, there is a lot to remember and discuss over the past couple of days. Our trip could not have ended any better than it did at Ulusaba Safari Lodge. After the first day, we awoke early again for another drive where we saw many more animals making their way to water and food. It was another nice day outdoors and we needed massages back at the lodge to settle us before the long journey home. After a nap and lunch, it was time for the evening drive. It was nothing spectacular as it began, so we decided to settle in for a sundowner. We had tracked a female leopard earlier in the day, and we hoped we would see her again that evening.

We jumped out of the vehicle, and Sean and James set up drinks and snacks for us. There were two impala maybe 50 yards or so from us, and they began making noises and sounding warning calls, but it seemed like they were just getting ready to fight each other. James panned with the light and they were fighting. Another vehicle pulls near when Sean told the other driver to go check things out. Very quickly, the other ranger Brandon called on the radio he had spotted a leopard very close to us and that we needed to get back in the truck. We scurried upward as Sean told us to move slowly and quietly. As we jumped back in the vehicle (trying not to spill our gin and tonics), we could make out the outline of a male leopard chasing an impala. Seconds later, we saw the cloud of dust as the leopard had grabbed the impala by the throat and drug him to the ground. Sean and James packed up the truck very quickly and we made the few short yards drive to watch him kill his prey. Death came swiftly as the impala’s windpipe had been crushed.

Then, we watched the leopard drag the 100-pound plus impala for at least 150 yards into the nook of the tree. He kept stopping along the way and taking breaks and you could see that he was out of breath. It was obvious the kill had taken a lot of energy as the male cat rested almost peacefully. He made a couple of attempts to drag him up even further, but the chase had taken it toll. We quickly reminisced how we had been out in the open as this was taking place, and wondered if the leopard had even had his eyes on us! We watched for a while, as the male first tore the hair off the belly of the impala and then like a surgeon used his canines to slice it open. He began gnawing at the impala. We knew it would be much later in the night, or even the next day, before the leopard moved further up and continued to eat. Sean told us, that after spending most of his life in the bush, he had only see 14 kills in his lifetime. We had been very lucky so far at Ulusaba as we had seen wild dogs eating, a leopard eating, and a leopard eat and kill his prey. It was time to head back to the lodge with this visual that most people, not even in Africa, will ever see in their lifetime. One more full day at the lodge and 3 more game drives before we head back to the states.

One more post to come . . . .

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