As a guide we get to spend countless hours out in the bush, which inevitably leads to seeing some of the most amazing sightings. Yesterday morning was one of those days for one of our Earth Lodge rangers, Michell Steinberg. Her safari plan for the morning was to try to find Sandriver who had been seen the night before and both her and her tracker would have to work hard to find this elusive leopard.
They found tracks early and followed with the vehicle for as long as possible before having to leave the guests in the safety of the vehicle before heading out on foot to see if they could find him. This is always an exhilarating experience for any guide as you know that you are purposefully walking into an area trying to find one of the most feared creatures on the planet. As she moved through the bush with her tracker they used their knowledge of the bush as well as the knowledge of this particular leopards habits to hone their search as they moved from termite mound to termite mound looking for any sign of his whereabouts. They cautiously approached a termite mound scanning the area and within a blink of an eye a warthog exploded from the mound 10 metres in front of them and Sandriver was hot on its heals. Michell and her tracker froze as their hearts raced and adrenalin filled their bodies as this massive leopard cruised straight past them in hot pursuit of some breakfast, seemingly unaware of their presence. Once he had moved off a good distance they walked, wobbly legged back to the vehicle, to fetch the guests.
By the time they got back to the termite mound he had already returned but he had not managed to catch his quarry but his attentions were still focused on the hole in the mound. He sniffed around smelling what seemed to be bacon rashers still hiding in the hole and he was not going to let them get away. As he got closer to the hole a warthog piglet tried to make a break for it but unfortunately the young one did not have the speed and agility of its mother and was pounced on within a couple metres of its starting point.
Sandriver moved off with the piglet to the shade and began to eat. Within minutes he had finished off the piglet but this bite size surprise had not satisfied his appetite. He again returned to the hole and instead of waiting for the remaining piglet to make a break for it and knowing full well that the mother was not in the hole decided to go head first into the burrow and fish it out. With just his tail sticking out there was an almighty scream as his jaws clamped down on the piglet. Within seconds the squealing stopped and he emerged with yet another mouthful of warthog.
What an amazing sighting! Unfortunately for the piglets it did not have the best ending but nature has a way of evening out the balance with a harshness that us as humans sometimes battle to comprehend. Within this harshness is a system that has perpetuated itself for longer than we can understand and will continue to do so forever.