The rainy summer season in Botswana has left the Linyanti in a state of lush, green chaos. Right in the north of Chobe National Park on the border of the Caprivi Strip, Camp Linyanti is a haven for elephants, hippos, birds of all sorts, and the secretive habits of the leopard.
A visit to this undiscovered paradise in October last year brought the excitement of a lion sighting right on the banks of the swamp (2 big males that promptly ran for their lives when an elephant made a beeline for them!), and this time we could not have hoped for the treat we were in for…
One morning, game drive came to a standstill when a young male leopard shot across our path and disappeared into the bush after a troupe of baboons. The first thought was that we had missed our opportunity to photograph this beautiful cat. What followed was the noisy panic and angry protests by a family of baboons under attack! With breathless anticipation we peered into the roadside shrubbery in search of the lightning-fast leopard while the upset primates barked and shrieked from the treetops.
There he was, only a couple of metres in, hidden by the overgrown foliage, revealing only a hint of his gold and black pelt, while his shoulder blades rose and fell with heavy breaths. In his mouth, the throat of an unfortunate baboon that had become this leopard’s lunch in a matter of seconds.
Luckily for us, we watched as the triumphant cat emerged from his hiding place and crossed the road in front of us, pausing to reposition his grip. The baboon showed signs of having fought back with its teeth still embedded in the leopard’s shoulder, but the signs of life were fading as its eyelids drooped and finally, closed.
A white-tipped tail disappeared into the thick undergrowth as the leopard slinked away to eat in peace, and no amount of driving around the area was going to relocate him. So, we reluctantly gave up and set our sights on what was in store for the rest of our game drive through the Linyanti forest, grateful for the unpredictability of the bush.