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Missing The Kill....

(June 2013)

 It's Sunday morning the 15th of June and I am wide awake by 4 am. I had such a warm, bubbly feeling of joy as I prepared for the day trip into Kruger with my dear friend, Natarchia. We are both extreme nature lovers, one of the best qualities of our friendship is that we can spend hours together in the bush each enjoying their own happiness in what we experience.
By 5h30 we were at the Phalaborwa Gate and we hit the road with no definite plans where to go...the atmosphere of the bush will lead our path for the day!

We had a splendid morning with the most beautiful sunrise and saw a lot of general game.

As we traveled along the S47 we discovered a natural waterhole where we decided to stay for a while and enjoy our breakfast. Beside for the very special Side-striped jackal that came to drink water we were entertained by an Elephant Bull very close to us with perfect early morning reflection in the water.After real soul food at the waterhole we decided to go to Letaba Camp via the S47 and continued our morning journey.

Then as we went around the corner a big male leopard was sitting in the middle of the road. Like a beautiful statue, his back facing us and his whole body tensed with concentration. 

As we moved slowly closer we noticed the herd of Impala coming up from the riverbed towards the road and then the leopard swiftly and silently moved into the bushes and we followed as quietly as possible so that we do not disturb the event that unfolding in front of eyes.

The Impala herd became nervous and restless..they could clearly feel the presence of danger, but not sure from which side or whom ...well that must really be scary. As the leopard moved forward through the thick grass the Impala herd start to move across the road some running and jumping just for "in case" I would say,..rather safe than sorry!

 By then a few tree squirrels opposite the road in a dry tree spotted the leopard and was going crazy and the herd took of like rockets, but in the process an Impala ewe with her young  were cut off from the rest of the herd as she was last to come from the riverbed. The 2 Impala freeze in their movement about 40 meters from my pick-up. You could see their bodies tremble with anticipation and the leopard was  lying in the grass about 60 meters south of the Impala. We could hardly brief waiting intensely for the leopard to strike. 

The leopard was not visible at all anymore and we know he was their, but where exactly we did not know??...You could cut the air with a knife as the atmosphere build up and the Impala moved slowly forward while the vervet monkeys up in the trees has joined in to call out about the danger lurking in the bushes.

 It was going to happen, in front of our eyes..the leopard is going to strike and then we heard a car coming around the corner with such a speed and the Impala ewe with her young used this opportunity to escape to the safety of the herd.

Slowly the leopard lift his head out of the grass and boy were we surprised to realize how close it was..a mere few meters from our pick-up. 

The leopard quickly followed it up moving towards my pick-up and used it as cover between him and the Impala herd, but with the squirrels and the monkeys going crazy it was mayhem and then more cars came out of nowhere and the leopard turned around and gracefully walked into the bushes and lie down under the trees. 

Within 20 minutes the peace was restored, every animal continuing their  own activities. The monkeys moved away, all forgotten about the leopard, but the leopard did not forget about the Impala.

He was on a mission and when the Impala started to graze again and their were a little bit of distance between him and them the leopard got up. He moved to the edge of the bushes and for a few minutes just stood their staring at the Impala in a distance and then silently, carefully and gracefully he crossed the road following the Impala and we realized he was not defeated, he just changed his strategy,...the leopard was still on the hunt!!

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