In July this year, we had an quite an exciting experience with a leopard inside Tamboti.To paint the picture:
I was staying in tent no.3 with my brother, dad and nephew, whilst my one sister was in tent no.5 with my sister-in-law, niece and niece's friend. In tent no.6 was my other sister, her two daughters and my mom.
So, all the boys in 1 tent and all the girls in 2 other tents.
Being both of my sisters' first time to Tamboti, it was met with a certain amount of disapproval, with comments like "it doesn't have the ambiance of the shops/restaurants, it's too 'wild', the ablutions are scary to go to, etc." being thrown in my direction. However, being the ardent Tamboti fan that I am, I reassured them that it's IMO the best camp in KNP, because the sounds at night are rivalled by no other, the game in the area is excellent, the peacefulness, etc.
It took much persuasion and 'big brother' assertiveness to convince them that this was THE place to stay when visiting KNP. Something that they were in total agreement with after our first night there, and having driven around the area for an entire day.
Now, after returning to camp on our second evening I took my little nephew for a stroll up to the bird hide, to get him out of his sisters' hair for a while. Whilst on our walk, I noticed what I thought to be leopard tracks on the dirt road leading to the tented area. I said nothing about it, so as not to create panic within the ranks, and continued on back towards my tent so that I could light the fire.
Roughly an hour later, with it now being completely dark, our entire family had gathered around the fire and were socialising as families do, chatting and laughing (possibly too hysterically & loudly) when our neighbours came across and interrupted us. I though to myself "oh oh, here we go, our first warning to settle down" but to my surprise, they had actually come to tell us that whilst driving up to ablutions they had seen a leopard stalking the resident impala herd (which I had heard bleating frantically for about 30min prior to this).
What is the first thing that all (ALL) of the girls in the family say? You guessed it... "I told you, this place is crazy, it's too wild!"
We were warned not to wander away from the vicinity of the tents and that the Kingfisher Spruit Section Ranger was on his way to come and resolve the situation. This naturally excited me to no end. Boys will be boys. It however scared my little nieces pale, and they promptly marched themselves off to bed... not that they'd get any sleep for the next few hours.
Once the panic in the ranks had settled down a degree or forty, all the girls were tucked in and ready for bed. My brother and I decided that it was now time to head off to our tent and join my old man and nephew.
Not 5 minutes had passed, when I received a phone call from my sister in tent no.6 to please come and help her the girls were terrified and couldn't get any sleep. So, off I marched to go and assist. As I got up to the road leading to her tent, a bakkie drove past me, from left to right, dragging an impala carcass over my feet! It then promptly stopped about 15m to my right and the rangers got out of the bakkie and signalled to me to move away. I couldn't for a few seconds, as I was now frozen stiff, realising that they were trying to lure the leopard and I was slap-bang in between the said lure and Mr/Mrs leopard. I was also now in the middle of nowhere and thought to myself "do I return to my tent or go and help my sister?"
With this thought still in mind, and my mind not made up, I get another phone call from my sister to say "STAY INSIDE!!! they're trying to capture the leopard." I thought "NO!!! Really, I hadn't noticed!!"
I explained to her that I was already halfway to her so would just continue on. She agreed and we continued on the phone whilst I kept walking. Next thing she screamed "I can see the leopard! I see it, wait!". I was now 7m from her tent, and promptly did a 60 degree turn and at about 252km/h ran onto the deck at tent no.5... not really sure how this was going to help
, but anyway.
I then noticed a civet strolling past her tent, and with that realisation I calmed down and proceeded burst into laughter, as I couldn't believe my sister had mistaken a civet for a leopard. Anyway, I got to her tent eventually.
I managed to settle my nieces nerves and get her to fall asleep, after which I to called it a night... luckily for the last time that evening.
The next morning, still cautions, I walked up towards the ablutions, when I saw the rangers still/back there. I stopped to chat to them and they explained that they had still not captured the leopard, but in the process of tracking it had seen that it had spent the majority of the night sleeping up against tent no.3 (mine), and had done a lot of walking around the other tents adjacent to mine, particularly no.5.
We unfortunately never got to see the leopard, but about a week after returning home I was informed that a female leopard had been successfully caught and released, and that she had apparently been calling Tamboti home for about a month prior to my stay.
Needless to say, many great memories were created as a result of this, and after all the "I told you so" comments that I had to endure, we all look back at this with fond memory.