the circle of life - by will lawson
One morning in February 2010, me, Brett DB and Alistair decided to leave early on safari. We were driving at Earth lodge and wanted to get to the north of the reserve to find some lions.
We left at 05h00 and after deciding who was going where we were off. I went along the cut line to check if there were any lion tracks. Before I got very far, Alistair called us to come and see what he had found.....When we got close all we heard was a massive noise, hyenas howling and leopards growling. When I finally moved into the sighting it was amazing; there were 3 hyenas that were being slapped around by a big male leopard, the one we call Sand River. The hyenas were trying to steal what we then thought was the leopard's kill, a small impala. They attacked from all sides and he was thrashing them one by one ......the one hyena had no ear and most of his nose was torn off. The others were also in pretty bad shape. In amongst all the fighting they finally got away with the kill. We thought it was all over when another big older male leopard arrived. He had heard all the commotion and came to inspect what was going on. Once realising he was not tough enough to fight all the hyenas he also ran off, leaving the original leopard to contemplate the loss of his impala.
We thought it was all over and started explaining to our guests what we thought had happened, when the leopard started giving a hair-raising roar while looking at a small tree. He was sniffing around and looked like he was up to something; that's when one of the trackers saw a 4 metre long python up in the tree.
The Sand River leopard must have stolen the python's kill, which the hyenas then stole from him, and which the other leopard was going to try and steal from the hyenas. The leopard turned on the python and started trying to get it out of the tree. All we heard were growls and hisses. At one stage the leopard was actually hanging onto the python trying to pull it out, but the python would not budge. This went on for a few minutes, until the leopard decided that there was no safe way of winning the fight. He let out a roar, thrashed the tree in frustration and walked off.
Those 30 minutes of excitement gave us some of the most awesome events any of us had ever seen. My guests were speechless; the sheer power of all of these animals is amazing......
Life is hectic in the bush, in a few minutes one kill went from a python to a leopard to 3 hyenas