It is an exciting and hugely emotional game drive morning for all those who has ever been a part of Mother Nature’s “wrath”.
The guides and guests were following one of Erindi Game Reserve’s dominant male lions early one March morning when the lion began to act strangely. He appeared to have picked up on something ahead of him – whether it was a smell, sound or something that caught his eye, it is hard to say but the lion’s body language changed and his gentle walking gate exploded into a full speed run. The game viewers following could not keep up at first but they heard the commotion and then desperate cries of a 6 month old female leopard.
As they caught up, the entire story began to unfold slowly. A mother leopard had killed an adult impala ram and she was at the kill site with her 6 month old youngster. The cats had already been feeding on the impala carcass for about 2 days when the lion came across the kill.
An adult impala ram is impossible for a female leopard to hoist while it is still fresh & whole but the carcass that this female had was probably already light enough for her to pull up into a tree.
Young leopards still learning how to place their kills in trees, often move them around and cause them to fall to the ground. It is unclear how the young leopard managed to get caught by the lion but claw marks in the tree showed that she either fell or tried to climb the tree when the lion arrived but somehow she had s slip and the big male lion grabbed her by the chest. The necropsy showed that the little leopard did not give in easily and she definitely tried to fight for her life as her mouth & throat were full of hair from the lion’s mane.
The mother of the young leopard was spotted and photographed watching the incident from the safety of a nearby rocky outcrop…what she was going through, no one can know. The male lion eventually left the lifeless body of the small leopard and he was noted to mark the area by spraying urine. The reason for this is unclear but it may have had something to do with the impala carcass prize that he had won & not the young leopard he had killed. Lions will demarcate their territory to let other lions know that they are in the area and that the space is occupied. The lion had no interest in eating the leopard but he claimed the impala carcass meal and fed on it until it was completely finished.