It was my guests’ last night drive here on Kapama Private Game Reserve. The only one of the Big 5 they had not yet managed to see during their stay at River Lodge was the Leopard.  As this was a priority for my guests and they were desperate to see one, I was determined to find them a Leopard. I told my guests that we could leave earlier than usual on our afternoon safari in order to get as much light as possible to find some tracks.

Shortly after we set off from River Lodge, we managed to find fresh tracks. We followed…and followed…and followed the tracks as far as we possibly could. Unfortunately, to no avail. It seemed as if the elusive Leopard would once again live up to its name. However, the African bushveld is not only about the Big 5. We appreciated the smaller intricacies of the African bush. This was the perfect opportunity for me to speak about insects, plants and the general plains game that most guests know nothing or very little about.

We continued with our drive, enjoyed a wonderful sundowner stop, then started to make our way back to the Lodge. There was still with no sign of the Leopard. I was just as disappointed as my guests, but sometimes things just do not plan out the way you wished. Regardless of having a quiet drive, my guests were still beaming from ear to ear, having returned to camp knowing more about the South African bushveld then when we set off earlier that afternoon. 

On my way to get ready for dinner in the Boma, I heard something exciting on the radio – a Leopard had made a kill down the road from the Lodge, and not just any kill! An Aardvark! An Aardvark is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to Africa. It can also be referred to as an anteater. The name “Aardvark” comes from Afrikaans and means either “earth pig or “ground pig” because of its burrowing habits. To see two of the rarest animals in one sighting is definitely something special, even if it was somewhat unfortunate for the Aardvark. 

I turned around as quickly as I could and went to fetch my guests and tell them the exciting news. They were incredibly excited, rushed off to get their cameras and jumped back onto the vehicle. When we got to the sighting and even though we knew what had happened, we couldn’t believe our eyes.

The Leopard had barely killed its dinner and a Hyena was already on the prowl. Watching the Leopard starting to feast on its hard-earned meal must have been too much for the lone Hyena.

Although the Leopard won this battle, unfortunately, the Hyenas won the war. Not too long after the scuffle between the two, the whole clan arrived later on and managed to get their fix. A small Leopard female does not stand a chance against more than one Hyena. At least the young female Leopard got a decent amount of food in before the scavenges took the remains.

This was definitely one for the books!!! I was so pleased that at the end of the day, my guests were able to tick off not only all of the BIG 5 but also got to learn some incredible things about the South Africa bushveld and see most incredible sightings.

To see the full video, click here to our YouTube channel.

Story and photos by: Ranger Michael – River Lodge

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