Sabi Sand madness continues to impress, after all these years of boasting some of the best leopard sightings in southern Africa! We can’t deny its appeal, and we’ve been waving guests off to the Sabi Sand for years, as they embark on their first or fiftieth safari. First timers come away enthralled by the sheer closeness of animals encounters, superior standard of service, the majesty of the bush – lush summer, or bone-dry winter – and with the intention to go again; while safari veterans leave the Sabi Sand with a renewed appreciation for this sublime South African treasure, and with even more knowledge of the elements that make up the wild. Without a doubt, some of the Kruger’s most phenomenal leopard sightings have come out of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, and most recently, we’ve seen this epic night time encounter emerge on game drive with Nkorho Bush Lodge…
In this adrenalin-pumping sequence of events – narrated by Nkorho guide Chene Wales-Baillie – we see one leopard in a tree with an impala kill, while a second leopard circles the base of the tree, giving a wide berth to the hyenas, which are also circling the tree trunk in the hopes of stealing the carcass should it plummet to the ground. The immediate appeal of this sighting is that it involves an intense interaction long-time enemies, leopard and hyena; and then we add the presence of a second leopard, which takes it to the next level!
The female leopard in the tree is protective over her impala (rightly so), and does not like the presence of the hyenas. She is tense and showing her discomfort. Then, a second female leopard shows up – also showing a keen interest in the impala carcass – and attempts to approach the tree, but the hyenas keep her at bay. Soon, the hyenas move away from the tree, giving the second leopard an opportunity to get what she wants and she takes it, leaping into the tree, much to the disgruntlement of the first leopard. A thrilling interaction between these two cats ensues and this is where the real action starts!
The two leopards snarl and swat at one another, growling and swiping in a ferocious performance in the branches of the tree. The impala carcass dangles perilously and the hyenas come running back like scavengers to pick up what is bound to drop to the ground. Sure enough, the carcass falls to the ground, as the intruding leopard also tumbles from the tree. Just like that, the carcass is lost to the hyenas and both leopards are left without a meal. This was a truly unexpected and uncommon sighting, making these guests – and the excited guide – some very lucky visitors to the predator paradise that is the Sabi Sand.