Wild Card member Flippie van Emmenis had spent a busy morning game viewing with his family in the Kruger National Park. They were making their way to Tshokwane Picnic Spot when they had an unforgettable encounter.

Flippie takes up the tale

It was just after noon when we pulled up to a little bridge near Orpen Dam on the H10. At the foot of some reeds we could just make out a leopard relaxing in the shade. I wanted to get a clear picture, so we decided to wait and see if the leopard would come out. At this stage the leopard was around 25 metres away from us.

KNPTshokwaneLeopard1-FlippieVanEmmenis-Sep 2014

After about 20 minutes, the first impala showed. It moved into the space between us and the leopard to have a drink at the river. Ever so slowly and quietly the leopard adjusted its position so it could keep an eye on the impala. By this stage Mom-in-law wanted to push on because she wanted to use the loo at Tshokwane. There was no chance of getting out, however, as the cars that had arrived after us blocked our exit. This was lucky for me as it turned out!

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By 12:40 the number of impala had increased considerably and the leopard must have decided the time was ripe. With one enormous leap the spotted cat sprang out of its hiding place and took down an impala. It couldn’t have taken more than a few strides for the leopard to reach its prey.

KNPTshokwaneLeopard3-FlippieVanEmmenis-Sep 2014

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The take-down took place behind a shrub so we couldn’t see much, but we could hear the bones crunching as the leopard killed its victim. I could see the tears welling up in Mom-in-law’s eyes – I wasn’t sure if they were for the poor impala or her own pressing need.

KNPTshokwaneLeopard9-FlippieVanEmmenis-Sep 2014
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After five minutes or so it appeared the leopard was satisfied that the impala was well and truly dead. It started dragging the antelope back across the rocks towards the far side of the river. It seemed to be making its way to a tree on the opposite bank. By this stage some of the other cars had moved, so I couldn’t use them as an excuse to delay our departure for Tshokwane any further.

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It was a remarkable sighting that I will remember for the rest of my life!

Camera information

Canon 600D, 55–250mm lens, ISO 800, f5.6, 1/2000