Last week I was driving couple of sets of return guests, and while they had once again enjoyed some lovely game viewing at Motswari, there was a request that I was just struggling to fullfil; a leopard in a tree! Now, while we ended up seeing seven different leopards with the guests (Shongile female, Nthombi female, Mondzweni male, Ntima male, Tshwukunyana male, Xiviti male), they were doing everything but sitting in trees posing for us (Shongile luckily chose a gorgeous termite mound in the last light of day which was better than any tree! ). One evening at dinner, I boldly promised a leopard in a tree, with a kill the next evening – a bold statement, but one I was relatively confident in delivering due to the fact that Marka had found a leopard with a kill that morning, and while the leopard ran off in the daylight, when he returned that night, the large unknown male was quite relaxed and provided for some good viewing. The next afternoon we set off south with the aim of finding elephants and a leopard in a tree – several dozen elephants later, it was time to try the leopard; we relocated his kill hanging up a Marula, a patient hyena, but alas, no leopard. We could hear him calling to the east of us, but despite our efforts, he wasn't to be found.
The next afternoon, we headed out early and found Nthombi and Mondzweni with a large male impala kill, but it was on the ground, and far too large for her to hoist – so we knew that this wasn't going to provide a solution; sadly, we also knew that they would likely end up losing the kill to hyenas, and that is exactly what happened.
Never fear, surely Rockfig Jnr female and her daughter, Nyeleti, would take their kill up a tree before dark? The answer was a resounding NO, and as sunset fell, the kill remained on the ground, so we avoided the area and made the long trip home…it just happened to be a trip past our last chance of a result – the impala in the tree. We pulled in, and saw the kill still there, but there was no leopard, and not even a hyena any more…but as we pulled closer, Difference spotted the leopard resting at the top of the Marula tree, and we pulled around to find a beautiful big male leopard resting next to his kill!
I have no idea who he is, but he lay perfectly happy for several minutes before climbing down the tree and moving off into the darkness – we didn’t want to push him, so we left him to it and headed home to enjoy a well deserved drink for accomplishing a mission with the most unlikely hero!