Sabi Sabi yesterday, today, tomorrow

catfight

by Richard de Gouveia on March 31, 2012

With a whole new group of guests in the lodge it was time to put my game-face on and get ready to show all of them this magical piece of Africa. All were first timers and the drive started out with lots of the basic questions like what they could expect to see and my explanation remains the same every time I get asked…”this is Africa, we can see anything or nothing, all depends on the day.” Well this turned out to be another GREAT day!

zebra while on safari game drive at sabi sabi

The drive started off watching a male rhino trying to court a female and she was having none of it as she chased him away anytime he got too close. Then we moved on and found a nice herd of zebra, warthog and impala all grazing along without a care in the world. It was just perfect…perfect weather, great game and the guests were full of beans and easy to get along with.

leopard stalking on safari game drive

From here it was time to find us a cat and knew exactly where to go look as some of the other vehicles had found a big male from the east of the reserve but by the time we got there we couldn’t find him. Fortunately though we herd some impala alarm calling and eventually found a young nomadic male strolling along sniffing around inquisitively. He was behaving really strange. We then saw the big male we were originally looking for staring at the youngster with a glint of hatred in his eye. We watched as he stalked behind a bush all the while I was waiting for him to charge the youngster.

leopard stalking while on safari game drive at sabi sabi

leopard stalking while on safari game drive at sabi sabi

When the youngster realised he was being watched he turned tail and tried to increase the distance between the two but the big male was not going to let him get away that easily. He chased after him and we chased after them trying to see what was happening but they went into a thicket and all we could see were bushes moving but the noise was intense as they scrapped it out in the thicket. Within a matter of seconds it was all over, the big male moved off and the young male came back out of the thicket looking very timid but not badly injured.

leopard

This was not the end of the action. Again the big male came out looking for him and the youngster again kept distance between them as the large male followed…with a burst of power the dominant male surged at the young male sending him scurrying straight up a tall marula tree with the big male clawing hard at the heels but giving up half way up the tree. Things seemed to calm down as the big male moved off a little way and lay down to sleep. All this commotion had also brought with it a hyena, which wanted to see if there was an opportunity for him to benefit out of the situation. We were then joined by a female leopard who also wanted to see what was happening! 2 leopards fighting a third joining to make a leap of leopards and a hyena for good measure!

leopard in a tree after fight

leopard in a tree after fight at sabi sabi

by: Richard de Gouveia (Little Bush Camp ranger)

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

bobi March 31, 2012 at 11:22 am

thank you for this post and wonderful update. Do you know who these leopards are? any feedback would be appreciated. thank you

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ranger rich April 1, 2012 at 4:00 am

It is my pleasure Bobi. We do know these leopards very well. The young male has been living around Sabi Sabi his whole life and he is now just over 2 years old. He was born around Selati Lodge. We do not name the leopards around Sabi Sabi as these are wild animals. The male is the dominant male in the Eastern section of of the reserve. Hope this helps.

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syl March 31, 2012 at 11:33 am

Your guests are so lucky:)

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ranger rich April 1, 2012 at 4:01 am

Thats what I kept telling my guests! They were so happy to see this interaction! Was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

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coltonA March 31, 2012 at 11:50 am

WOW, wish i could have seen it first hand. What a once in a lifetime expeiance, Have you ever seen anything like this before Richard??

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coltonA March 31, 2012 at 11:51 am

experiance* lol

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ranger rich April 1, 2012 at 4:03 am

Colton, it was truly a unique experience. It was the first time I have witnessed such interaction between leopards and I hope that it will not be my last. I wish i could have got better footage of the fight but maybe next time we will get a better opportunity!

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sheila March 31, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Great photos and video. It must be something else to be right there listening to those leopards fighting. Thanks for sharing, Richard.

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ranger rich April 2, 2012 at 6:40 pm

It was AMAZING Sheila! I feel so privileged to have witnessed it! I am so glad you enjoyed it!

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eda April 1, 2012 at 6:23 am

Wow! Your guests are luckiest! Richard :-) )

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ranger rich April 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm

As you can see from the comment below Eda, they definitely enjoyed it! What an incredible sighting….

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leah and peter hill April 1, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Richard,

Thanks so much for showing us this amazing display of animal behavior. We will remember it forever. We are home now, but would love to be out on a game drive right now. Hoping to be back at Sabi Sabi someday!

All the best,

The Hills

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ranger rich April 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm

It was a pleasure having you join me on this intrepid adventure Leah and Peter! I am so glad that you enjoyed the sighting as much as i did! We look forward to having you back in our amazing piece of Africa

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leah and peter hill April 1, 2012 at 10:00 pm

PS I’m not sure what “full of beans” means but I like it!

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ranger rich April 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm

“full of beans” means to be full of energy….not the # bean soup we had that night….hehehehehehe

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r.i.t, layla April 3, 2012 at 12:33 am

I miss this! I wish I was there!!!! From the adjectives you used and the pictures you took I could piece it perfectly together in my mind. Any idea why the first one was stalking the younger one?

- Your favorite R.I.T, Layla

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ranger rich April 3, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Thank you my favourite R.I.T….The reason why is because the dominant male wants to chase all competition away from his territory and this young male may pose a threat to him when he gets bigger. Make sense?

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honey badger April 3, 2012 at 2:41 am

Let me echo the same sentiments, what exactly do you mean by “full of beans”? How cool to see the leopards looking strong and so beautiful. You have an incredible job Ranger Richard!

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ranger rich April 3, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Full of beans is to be happy and full of energy, I cant believe this would just be a South African quote….hehehe. How you guys doing otherwise? The calender is looking awesome on my wall ;-) thanks again!

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jeff and anne April 7, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Richard,

What a magical evening that was!! Being on the Cat Fight drive was an experience we will remember. sharing it with Peter and Leah and Carey and Jo made it more special.
I didn’t realize the significance of that cat fight experience until later reflection (even though you told us it was very rare). The whole 3 days was far beyond our
expectations- thanks to you, Brett, Solly and the rest of the staff.

Best to all of you,

Jeff and Anne

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ranger rich April 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm

We were more than happy to have all of you with us! It was a great experience and you guys rocked! It is guests like you that make my job the best job in the world! So thank you!

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deborah smith-berman April 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Fantastic shots of the cats! I had the wonderful pleasure of visiting Sabi Sabi a couple of years ago. We saw a lot of animal action then, as well. The rangers did an amazing job!! They made the whole experience so exciting! I can’t wait to return for another visit. Thanks!!

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ranger rich April 10, 2012 at 5:57 am

Thanks for the comment Deborah…I am so glad that you enjoyed your stay with us and if it was a couple of years ago that you were here I think it is long overdue for you to come back and visit ;-) We look forward to having you back here again!

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