The tranquil sound of a lazy stream of water overpowered the joyous morning chorus as another day dawned in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. But there was something different in the water on this morning. A red tinge to the surface lingered as it flowed passed the massive Sycamore Fig tree(Ficus Sycomorus). The sound of flesh being ripped accompanied by the low rumbles of satisfaction said it all. Two Adult male lions feasting on a buffalo cow in the Sand River.
We had already viewed the Skukuza Pride that morning as they settled down to enjoy their own hard earned buffalo kill (see the sighting named Buffalo Brutality). Now we came upon the 2 young Eyerfield male lions on a bovine kill of their own. These 2 boys are not the territorial males of the area but they have started to make inroads into the area dominated by the Kruger National Park males (KNP males). The KNP males have been spending the majority of their time with the Southern Pride of late. They have thus not been patrolling their territory as much as they should have. This might be what these 2 new male lions were waiting for.
With manes not fully developed and confidence still lacking these two beauts are still very much Ďup and comingí male lions. Elsewhere, Kirkmanís Kamp ranger, Brett Lenseveldt, had located a male and female leopard walking side by side on the road. They were very active and made their way towards the river. The two male lions had, in the meantime, had their fill and settled down in the early morning sun. This offered us some great shots of these two awesome cats.
The low rumble of a V8 Land Rover in the distance meant one thing: those leopards were getting closer and closer. Then we saw them -Xovonikele male leopard accompanied by his suitor, the Rollercoaster female leopard. They nonchalantly walked down the bank and into the river, a mere 300m east of the male lions. 2 sigtings have now joined as one. We momentarily lost sight of the leopards as they zig zagged through the reeds. After a while we assumed that they mustíve picked up the scent of the lions and moved off in the opposite direction.
I was about to leave the now sleeping lions when I saw movement in the reeds. The leopards had come back and they were now less than 30m from the lions. Both parties had no clue of the other. The adult male leopard mustíve smelled the carcass and he was carefully making his way to investigate. A swooping vulture awakened the one male lion from his deep slumber. He gazed at the Hooded Vulture that had now perched in a dead Leadwood right above the 2 approaching leopards. Thatís when the lion saw them. A sleepy look on his face changed instantly into a focussed, murderous look. His ears flattened, his body posture stiffened and lowered. He waited patiently, he knew that the leopards would come closer. And they did. The male leopard approached to within 20m. Thatís when their eyes met. A moment of hesitation and then chaos erupted. The male lion gave two strides in the direction of the leopard. The male leopard turned and high tailed it in the opposite direction. A blur of rosettes was the last we saw of him as he disappeared into the reeds with the female leopard hot on his tail. The male lion returned to the buffalo kill and proceeded to scent mark around it. Just reaffirming their dominance over the ever diminishing buffalo carcass.
As we left the sighting we heard the magnificent sound of an adult male leopard roaring and proclaiming his presence. Xovonikele mightíve been chased by the king of beasts but he was still the king of the leopards in this area. Another predator interaction just illustrating the amazing game viewing Kirkmanís Kamp has to offer.
Posted: Kirkman's Kamp by Jacques-Pierre Joubert, Date: 26 July 2012