We visited South Africa’s Sabi Sabi Game Reserve back in December and had three days of fantastic game viewing. We checked in with our friends to see what is going on right now and received this story of a leopard/hyena encounter. There’s definitely always something interesting to see in the bush!
A strategic, long sleep on a termite mound to avoid the midday heat, kept the Maxabeni male in the same spot for the majority of the day. We made our way over to him as the sun was starting to dip. He eventually awoke to groom himself and prepare for his evening’s activities. At the conclusion of his grooming he repositioned as if to hit the snooze button on his alarm and settled in for another short nap.
After opening his eyes for a quick look around, he suddenly pricked up his ears. Not thinking much of it, we carried on chatting and enjoying the last bit of golden light which saturated his radiant coat. The ever alert trackers are quick to pick up on the smallest disturbances and it wasn’t long after a slight movement was noticed. We all had our binoculars out trying to make out the dark figure in a nearby Tamboti thicket, when from behind the tangle of trunks a hyena emerged. A massive female looking intent on the leopard, this hyena was followed by another two, to ensure the odds were stacked in their favor.
Maxabeni’s body language changed, it became more and more defensive the closer the malicious clan got to him. He did a quick scan for an escape route, the small Tamboti tree atop the termite mound was the closest cover.
He positioned himself in such a way that the tree was close enough to get into quickly while simultaneously trying to keep his eye on the approaching threat. As the hyenas got close enough he let out a blood chilling hiss and in a smudge of spots leapt into the tree. From there he gave a meaningful growl just to get his message across. The hyenas walked on to the top of the mound and had a good sniff around for a potential meal. Once they had established that there was nothing to gain from the cautious cat they meandered off into the bush. Maxabeni made sure they were long gone before coming down to nurse his slightly bruised ego.Report and photos courtesy Sabi Sabi Game Reserve, Simon Smit (Bush Lodge Ranger)