size matters

In the animal world everything goes around size. Lions persecute leopards; leopards and lions persecute cheetah; cheetah, lion and leopard persecute jackals. As much as this happens between different species it also happens between animals of the same species…in most cases between the big predators. Male lions will dominate kills that the pride may have brought down without his help, and as in the below case whereby Sandriver male leopard stole a kudu kill from the Little Bush female leopard.

sandriver leopard while on safari at Sabi Sabi

We found Sandriver’s tracks at a dam where he had been drinking and shortly after saw a kill in a tree. As I entered the sighting for the first time he was stationed at the base of the tree. Lying in the long grass, he was not too visible but I knew that by that evening he would be up in the dead tree with the afternoon light warming his colours as my camera would be clicking away in the perfect light. He, however, would have other plans.

sandriver leopard while on safari at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve

During the heat of the day, he decided to take his stolen prize to an area with a little more cover so as not to attract attention from vultures and other scavengers. That night he was feeding on the remains, crushing through the rids as if they were hard candies.

sandriver leopard while on safari at Sabi Sabi

The following morning he had hoisted the kill into another tree, this time with a bit more cover than before and again he was panting hard, trying to cool himself down after stuffing himself. As we sat and watched him, he started to look up at the kill and you could almost hear him think, “maybe I should have another nibble.” It wasn’t long before he moved towards the tree and then scaled it as if it were not even there. He stopped half way to assess the next route up and then in the blink of an eye he was standing next to his kill with morning sunlight meeting his face.

sandriver leopard in a tree with a kudu kill while on safari at Sabi Sabi

He sat feeding on the carcass for a while before we left. The guests were speechless at the power that we had just witnessed. What an incredible sighting and it just amazes me how well this male is still doing even though he is 12 years old! What a legend!

by: Richard de Gouveia (Little Bush Camp ranger)


  1. frank says

    Really good to see him again. We photographed him last September. His right canine has the top brocken off, but it doesnt seem to be bothering him.
    I notice that you are now using names for the leopards which I was advised not to do.
    I am daily looking forward to these reports which help us to keep in touch with selati. Thank you.

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