We are moving on to our next and final camp, which Bibi says is his favourite. So we had our usual 06:00 wake-up call and bed roll packing, followed by breakfast. I’m being very naughty and eating toast with peanut butter all the time.
At 07:30 with the trailer once again in tow, Bibi set off apparently still intent on finding a Leopard. We drove around a few places, even an airfield for some socializing [“ehhh”], without success though we did see another pair of Wild Dogs, albeit at a little distance across some water. Decent compensation.
After crossing a bridge that seemed to be built of boy scout pioneering poles [memories of a misspent youth], we eventually arrived at our new campsite at 13:00. We could see why Bibi might think it was his favourite. The site itself was quite open and immediately across the “road” was a Hippo pool. Hmmm. Having Hippos in such close proximity was a bit of a surprise but it’s an official campsite so presumably safe, given sensible precautions. A mother and calf were out of the water on the opposite bank. It’s quite delightful. Hopefully the noises at night would prove interesting.
The afternoon game drive proved exceptional. After chatting to a few other drivers [“ehhh”], as we were making our way along one track, Francine found herself just a few metres away from a magnificent Leopard that appeared to be using a termite mound as a vantage point to look for dinner. If you can yell softly, she yelled “stop” softly, hoping not to alarm it. It was close to the side of our truck. We were beside ourselves; what a spectacular creature. It sat looking around for a while before eventually climbing down to move off.
There was another vehicle behind us which, of course, broadcast the find over the radio. As news spread and the Leopard moved off behind us, we began to be joined by other jeeps. Bibi had to do an about turn to follow.
There was a large group of Impala on the far side of this patch of grassy meadow. We were soon following on with half a dozen or so other vehicles. Amazingly, the Leopard seemed totally unfazed and crouched low moving forward with undulating shoulder blades as it used the grass for cover to stalk the antelope.
Jeeps continued to turn up and we eventually counted 15 or 16. It seemed a bit obscene, really, and we were hoping the poor old Leopard, which still appeared unbothered, wouldn’t lose out on a meal. I’d have liked to see the hunt conclude but we moved off and left the convoy to it.
During a brief comfort stop at the park gate we heard that the Leopard had indeed made a successful kill. We returned to the scene and found the Leopard hauling a fully grown female Impala through the grass. The Leopard had a cub somewhere and would need to stash dinner in a tree to avoid losing it. The Impala was noticeably bigger and the Leopard could only manage 10 or so steps before needing to pause and rest.
Nature red in tooth and claw. I know there’s a poor ol’ Impala that had been killed but this is life in the wild and it had been a privilege to watch such a magnificent predator doing what it does best. There was still a second jeep with us but light was now fading fast and we both soon left the Leopard to continue bringing home the bacon for its cub.
Our own meal seemed mundane by comparison. It was, though, still well prepared over the good old wood camp fire: spaghetti Bolognese with what seemed like stir-fried coleslaw (and why not?). Yet more custard appeared along with some fruit salad, this time.