Cat burglar at Kings Pool…

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No matter how much time you spend in the bush there will always be something new, something more amazing than the last time and always something surprising. What happened here was a perfect combination of the unexpected... and a series of events I will never forget!

Was this the culprit? We only got glimpses of her but with the perfectly silent way in which the impala was killed and disembowelled means she is a very likely candidate. Meet Slender the local dominant female leopard at King's Pool…

Slender, Kings Pool Camp's resident leopard

Dwayne is one of the managers at King's Pool and we were having a quiet drink together at GM Malcolm's house. Zara was visiting the camp too but it was getting late and Dwayne said, “Right guys I am off.”

We knew he had to walk past Death Valley – so named because it is a hippo highway – but also it’s the spot where an old lioness has been hanging out. However, we did not think much of it as it was just another normal walk back home on another normal night.

We could hear Dwayne walking along the decked walkway and just a few seconds after he stepped off onto the ground into Death Valley, all hell broke loose! Impala were snorting, monkeys were going crazy and even the elephants ran off trumpeting.

Something was up and it was crazy... we were thinking that poor Dwayne had continued his form of bad timing and were wondering if this was his time... I know it sounds terrible, but there was a lot of worry... and from the extent of the alarm calls I knew something had been killed!

Well the next day, after trying to work out everything and confirming that Dwayne was alive, we began some serious CSI work…

I was so convinced something had been killed that at first light I went straight to investigate with Dwayne. We found tracks of a leopard that lead directly to Tent 9, the closest room to Death Valley. I started investigating some drag marks when I found a perfectly disembowelled stomach and realised that perhaps it was best to move out of the area. Not long after that the baboons started going crazy and someone reported seeing a leopard run off. So I revisited the scene with guide Ndebo... it was not long b efore we located what we had been looking for... the carcass of a sub-adult female impala!

Putting the pieces of the puzzle together, we realized that Dwayne must have walked home and unfortunately for the impala, had disturbed the herd, chasing them directly into the path of a waiting leopard... fortunately for Dwayne the leopard was more interested in the impala than him!

Anyway back to the issue... we had some nervous guests in Tent 9 and it was decided that the impala should be taken away. The managers got involved with dragging it out from underneath the room and left it in the floodplain in front of the staff village. It was a busy day for us all and the thinking was that we were ultimately giving away a leopard kill to hyaenas and vultures and the rightful owner should get its food back. So I was fixing tyres in the workshop when I asked Matata if he could help me with the impala carcass. We dragged it to a small tree out of reach of the hyaenas and hung it up...

Nic and Matata drag the leopard carcass into a small tree

Well the leopard was no doubt pleased to have its kill back but decided to take things to another level... it thought that Tent 9 was the perfect location again, but this time dragged the kill onto the roof! When the guides did their guest wakeup rounds they would have no doubt been oblivious to a leopard staring down at them. As it got light the leopard left us with the kill and an even more tricky situation... how the guests got any sleep that night, one wonders but we are sure glad that they did not realise the situation at the time!

Slender's disembowelled impala carcass

In the end we had to take the kill away once again and this time we hung it on a tree next to the entrance of the camp. Well the vultures found it before it got dark, knocked it out of the tree and then the warthogs stole it and eventually as it got dark hyaenas ended the two day game of cat-and-impala and we could hear their laughter deep into the night…

Warthogs steal Slender's impala carcass

Follow Nic's page Bush24 on Facebook for more amazing tales from the wild...

Words and photos by Nic Proust

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