Don’t critique the extract..!!! oh go on have some fun critique it, the Editor has not got her hands on this piece yet so I’m not even sure how it will end up. But one thing I can guarantee it will be better than this. I just want to whet your appetite for more…..
Leopard are a much sought after sighting.
The leopard crouched in the grass his head the height of the longer blades, well camouflaged from his prey, the grazing Impala herd thirty metres away. He crept forward silently approaching, ne’er a sound, not a dry leaf nor a twig broken a quiet, stealthy, leopard creep forward. Massive claws retracted, ready for extension when called to action, anticipation of a meal clear in his head.
The Impala not far from his favourite tree was a bonus, a quick kill and up the tree with the rewards of an uninterrupted meal, no lion or hyena to share this prize. His forward progress watched by visitors in their cars, silent as not to disturb the spectacular occurrence they’re about to witness. His approach slow and hesitant, not wanting to warn of his coming, the last crouch, rear legs coiled beneath him ready for the sprint and jump.
Then it happened, the burst forward, the charge lightning fast, the Impala caught off guard spring in all directions. The leopard concentrating on his selected prey closes, springs and locks claws into the neck area landing on the back of the chosen one. The front claws lock on the neck, the back tripping the frightened buck, down into a dusty mêlée of rolling buck and cat. The clamping of the cat’s jaw on the neck insures asphyxiation, the rear legs of the leopard ensuring the flying hooves of his prey do not disembowel him.
Finally, the impala dies, the cat rises panting from the exhausting effort required, looking around to watch for the opportunists that often rob him of his kill. None spotted, he spends time collecting his breath and renewing his strength. At last rejuvenated from the effort he collects his reward dragging it between his legs back towards his tree next to the road. Effortlessly he crouches and springs, front legs splayed each side of the kill and claws his way up the tree. It all seems so effortless, an impala ram weighing nearly the same as the leopard hoisted to a good height and wedge in a spot chosen to make sure the prey isn’t dislodged.
He settles next to his prey and begins to disembowel the buck, chewing and swallowing, enjoying the fruits of a successful hunt. A meal he will continue to eat for a few days, whilst lodged in his pantry forked branch. A belly full consumed, time for a rest on a branch not far from the carcass, later down the tree again for a drink in the nearby river, then back to protect his meal.
How much of this did I witness? None.
We drove down a dirt road and met with a “car park” full of vehicles, the occupants all looking into the tree were the leopard and its kill were situated. But my imagination, ran riot, as I pictured the events leading up to this fantastic sighting of a rarely seen occurrence, in the Kruger National Park.
We were fortunate to see this and to get photographs of the animal, one of which I have attached to this article. I have visited the Park on more than 100 occasions and only on a few that I could count on one hand have I been privileged to see a leopard on its kill, and less, so close to the road.