Tanda Tula guests, Ranger Richard and Tracker Isaac had not one but two incredibly rare experiences on game drive last night. We had stopped to watch the antics of a family of warthogs, when Isaac saw a leopard quickly cross the tar road ahead. She was crouching low to the ground, so we thought she may be on the hunt. Turns out she was, and we actually got to witness the kill!
Richard carefully approached the young female as she crouched in the grass, easily within striking distance of two male impalas who were engaged in a fight. Moments later, she seized her opportunity, springing from the grass and taking down one of the impala. There was a struggle as the small leopard tried to first strangle, than suffocate her prey. After a few minutes with his muzzle in her mouth, the impala finally succumbed and lay motionless. Panting from the effort, she stood over her kill for a few minutes, but decided that she must quickly move her prize to a safer place before beginning to feast. With great effort, she dragged the impala under a nearby bush to conceal it from scavengers where she began the business of opening the belly and eating the innards.
As if that weren’t enough excitement for one drive, Richard and Isaac then located the Machaton lion pride mother and her three sub adult male cubs. We watched them play in the riverbed, then sharpen their claws on the trees before walking off into the sunset.
What happened next had us literally vibrating with excitement. A pangolin had been spotted, and we quickly responded to the sighting. This is a true rarity- neither Richard nor Isaac, who have both been coming to the Bush their entire lives had ever seen one of these elusive, normally nocturnal creatures! While it didn’t cooperate fully by showing its face, we did get to see its armoured body as it tried to camouflage itself between two rocks. It was an exciting, unforgettable experience for everyone!
View the images below.
Words and images by Jacquie Gauthier. Pangolin photo courtesy of Emily Silman