Sometimes the best wildlife sightings take place before you've even begun your safari. Last Sunday, field guide Cameron Engelbrecht was prepping to take guests out on a morning drive in South Africa's Idube Game Reserve when a leopard showed up for an early breakfast. 

(Note the video does contain some strong language – although we don't really blame Engelbrecht for that!)


 

The cat quickly set its sights on a nyala that was grazing on the camp's manicured lawn some 15 metres away from where Engelbrecht was standing. The pursuit lasted just 10 seconds. In a bold display of feline stealth and strength, the leopard briskly crept to within striking distance of the antelope before swiftly pinning her prey to the ground right beside a camp walkway.

"It has happened at Idube before, but no one has ever managed to captured it on film," Engelbrecht told us. "For her to do it out in the open like that was extremely unique and extremely rare to see." A guide with six-and-half-years' experience under his belt, Engelbrecht has never witnessed a leopard kill that wasn't masked by dense bush. "I’ve never really been able to capture it before or get a photograph of the takedown." 

The leopard, dubbed the "Schotia female", is well-known to guides in the Greater Kruger area. Although she used to spend much of her time around the camp at Idube, her territory has since shifted further east into a neighbouring reserve, says Engelbrecht. While Schotia may not be spending too much time around Idube at the moment, Engelbrecht was well aware that she was hunting for two. After dispatching her prey, the leopardess moved off to fetch her cub so that it too could enjoy the spoils.


 

Engelbrecht seized the moment to drag the kill some 400 metres away from camp out of concern for the safety of the guests staying at Idube. "We put it at the base of a tree so that when she returned, she could just take it straight up." On her return, Schotia relocated the carcass, and her cub quickly got to work trying to get at the meat. Unfortunately, the meal was claimed by hyenas later that evening. It's possible that Schotia did not take the kill far enough up a the tree, or perhaps her cub dropped it.

"It was such a unique experience," Engelbrecht adds. "And to be standing what I measured [to be] 15 metres away from her watching the whole thing happening was just absolutely incredible."