Thank you Shi, Pumbaa, Bushbaby30, Gunner, Micetta, Zeelie, Kamadejo, Elsa, Lowveldboy and lionspoon for the kind and encouraging comments which spur me on to share more memories with ou all.
Having shared Just Another Day in Kruger with you all, I was wondering which other experience to share and my mind jumped to last December... we entered at Malelane Gate and decided to take the magic road to Berg and Dal. Along this road we encountered a hyena which seemed to be visually impaired walking on the road towards us after spending some time with it we continued on to the water hole where we sat for a while chatting to a friendly couple for a while and then decided to drive back along the S 110, coming to the T junction we turned left towards Afsaal and even before reaching the Matjulu bridge, we came across a leopard which was well camouflaged in a thickly leaved tree. While sitting there we noticed a few cars parked about a hundred metres away and decided to investigate what they were watching. To our pleasant surprise, another leopard in a tree, but this tree was totally bare. Sat with it for a while went back and forth between the two leopards till the one in the bare tree finally went down and disappeared. We then went back to the other leopard which was now fast asleep and barely visible. Fully satisfied with the morning’s events thus far, we continued... we drove around and were treated to lots of general sightings till we checked in at Pretoriouskop where we were to spend the first night before proceeding to Satara. Having checked in, we were busy having lunch when I received a call from a friend from the Free Sate infirming me that a relative of his had entered the park at Numbi and turned onto the S 7 where he had come across an impala carcass hanging from a tree. So where do you think we decided to spend the afternoon? Of course, looking for the carcass in the hope of finding the leopard who put it there in the first place.
Leaving PK, we took a leisurely drive along the tar road to Numbi and turned right onto the S 7. Driving slowly we scanned the trees for the carcass and finally saw it hanging from this fairly low tree. My son took a shot of the carcass and we settled down on our stakeout. Cars kept on coming and going, waiting a few minutes when they asked us what we were watching and on being shown the carcass, some waited a few minutes and all of them eventually drove off. As long as the sound of cars coming and going persisted, there was absolutely no sign of the leopard. A good two hours sitting and waiting had passed and the light too was receding. Sitting there and scanning the long grass with my binoculars every few minutes, it eventually paid off, for I spotted the leopard walking towards the tree. Just as I drew my son’s attention to where it was, we heard the roar of an oncoming car and with the sound of the car the leopard disappeared. They were driving towards us and stopped alongside asking what was to be seen. Once more showing the carcass, they had a quick look and drove on. Another few minutes dragged by after which I once more spotted it now coming right up to the tree. It stood there on its hind legs looking at us while its forepaws were resting on the carcass, truly a sight to be witnessed. This was something I never even imagined ever seeing. My son took a quick shot but realised that the settings were not right. He quickly adjusted the setting and the next few minutes, all I head was the clicking of the camera. Now, unconcerned with our presence, it began eating heartily while still on its hind legs. Shifting this way and that, it kept on looking for and eating the best chunks of meat it could find and gulping them down with gusto. Soon, we saw another car approaching and I indicated to the driver to slow down and turn off his engine. As soon as the leopard heard the sound of the engine it looked in their direction. I feared the worst, thinking it will disappear once more but it was now probably too hungry to bother about the onlookers and went back to eating but with a marked difference this time. It no stood on the ground but had its forepaws attacked to the carcass, holding on with its claws while its hind legs were in midair and the end of its tail hidden by the tall grass. This was when we realised, it is a female. Can it ever get better then this?
O yes it can! As I look through the binoculars and listen to the clicking of the camera, I see this beautiful leopard become an acrobat par excellence. Holding onto the carcass with its front paws, it now arcs through the air biting and eating the impala meat while swinging from side to side. At first, it hols on with both paws and them we see three paws attacked to nothing. It is now holding on just with its right front paw and jaws. The other car had by now driven off and missed the best part of the sighting. We now see this beauty resting the left paw on the tree for support while with its right paw, it still holds onto the carcass feeding frenziedly. With another change in its position, it now rests two paws on the tree, one latched onto the carcass and one still in midair. Before long it rests all four paws on the trunk of the tree and persists in its meal. Finally, this acrobatic act reaches its finale and it once more rests on the ground, standing on its hind legs still eating away. The crowning moment was when, still in that position, it focuses its eyes upon us as if asking, “Did you enjoy the show?” so comes to an end, Just another Day in Kruger...