James Kydd

Male leopard steals from mother and cubs.On Strip Road Freddy raised his hand, motioning for me to stop: fresh tracks of a male leopard, very fresh. Shorty was not far. We drove into the Mxabene River bed, and I saw a brief flash of spots behind a termite mound.

Freddy quickly got inside the vehicle, and we drove behind the mound, but he was gone. There was, however, a strong meaty smell in the air. Grant was nearby and came to help us try and relocate this leopard. As Grant approached from Lex’s Pan, he radioed me to say they had the leopard.

We joined him at the pan only to find Mxabene and her two little cubs, for the first time seen out in the open, in glorious light.
They seemed nervous of the vehicle, and we decided immediately to leave them alone. But Freddy and I were sure it was a male we had seen, even though we had only got a quick glimpse. We went back into the river bed, and there, glistening in the sun were fresh drag marks, heading all the way upstream in the dry river bed. “Famba Mfo! Famba!” (“Let’s go brother! Let’s go!”) Freddy shouted with delight, we must have just missed him stealing a kill from his female.

We sped around the corner to find Shorty with a big impala ram in his mouth, dragging it towards a tree. Effortlessly he leaped up an ebony tree with the buck in his mouth, and began feeding. What an action packed ten minutes! We all felt like kids at a fireworks show.