an unlucky impala - alistair leuner


During an evening drive, while sitting with one of our lion prides, our vehicle of guests was loving every moment with these majestic creatures. While enjoying the African sun setting in the distance we were disturbed by the noise of impala alarm-calling to the south of the lions' position. We thought the impala in the distance might have seen the lions, but the lions were lying very flat and it was virtually impossible for the impala to have seen them.

I said to my guests "let's leave the lions and just go and check what might be there" (I thought there could be another predator in the area) so off we went. As we rounded the next corner we came across some extremely fresh leopard tracks that looked only minutes old! My tracker got off the Land Rover and began to follow the spoor. The tracks led us straight towards the area from where the impala were alarm-calling. I knew we were close. The lions we had left behind were still lying flat and were completely unaware of what was about to happen.

The tracks then began to head east on the road and we followed, only to be interrupted by two very testosterone driven impala: two males who were obviously jostling for position to control the females who were trying to tell them there was danger!

We watched the two fighting for a couple of minutes as they drove each other into the ground, completely unaware of their surroundings. We were getting so absorbed watching these two males destroying each other that we completely forgot about the leopard that we were tracking. The two males were in the road right in front of us and still absolutely going full tilt at one another!

Suddenly, my tracker shouted "leopard", and within a few seconds a female leopard stalked from the bush next to us and headed towards the two impala, which still had no idea what was going on. By the time they realised the danger it was too late. She pounced and hit one of the males in mid-air and they both came crashing down right next to the vehicle! My one guest, who was luckily videoing the impala fighting, managed to catch this all on camera and caught the leopard mid-air.

The young female wrestled the huge impala to its knees and started the death bite to the neck. The other male (who now was sure to get all the females!) began to shout alarm-calls at the leopard, but it was too late. The alarm-calls had by now attracted the lion pride! The lions approached to investigate what was going on, but at first they couldn't find the leopard. After a while they discovered her, immediately chasing her away. As the lions devoured their free meal, the forlorn young female leopard slunk back into the bush.

To see a kill like this in broad daylight is a highlight that will never be forgotten! The guests who were on the vehicle had been coming to the African bush for 30 years and had never seen a kill! This was their first and they said they would never forget how lucky they'd been...

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