Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Rainbirder

Head to head with a leopard!

Recommended Posts

Rainbirder

Sadly there could only be one outcome in this bizarre "interaction"!

 

11323248266_f2eca1910d_o.jpg

 

We watched this young female leopard zig-zag back and forth sniffing as she went and clearly on the trail of something. Eventually she found her quarry - an infant male Beisa Oryx who instead of fleeing faced down his nightmare.

The oryx was small and lacked any strength. His attempts at head butts were clearly initially interpreted by the female leopard as a show of affection. For a time the leopard the rubbed up against and played with the young oryx.

The young oryx was clearly terrified and was calling loudly for his mother (a pathetic bleating noise) -but no help came. Eventually the oryx tried to make a run for it and the leopard then quickly despatched him.

It was a spirited display by the young oryx but the whole scenario was emotionally painful for us. Nature is nature, no more, no less ………but it can make for very cruel viewing at times!

My teen daughter found this particularly difficult watch but she knew well that we were there to see but not to interact.

 

11130981906_58b92707bd_o.jpg

 

The incredible Mr Ben Gitari saw this she leopard in the distance and knew that something interesting would unfold. He masterfully positioned our vehicle (the much-maligned pop-up roof 4X4 minibus) in anticipation and as a result we had incredible views of the leopard and her interaction with the young oryx.

I just wish I could afford to buy Ben a proper 4x4 safari vehicle as he deserves it. Of course if he was given the money to buy himself a vehicle he would spend it on his community school instead!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Game Warden

What an amazing sighting, one which defines how raw nature can be. I think many would have found it uncomfortable to watch. Thanks for sharing @@Rainbirder.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AKR1

A unique encounter that shows nature with its raw, wrenching reality, yet a scene with disturbingly grotesque beauty as captured through your lens.

Edited by AKR1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Safari Cal

Great scene Steve. I can't help thinking that this would have been more emotional to watch without a camera, I always feel more detached from whats happening from the back of a lens!

 

Also, I guess it was more emotional watching it with your daughter. This is a scene that normally plays out a lot more quickly with less time to analyse whats going to happen, given that time we always root for the underdog, don't we?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
madaboutcheetah

Reminds me of the Lioness that adopted Oryx in Kenya a while ago ........ They made a documentary about it too ...... Samburu I think?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Safari Cal

@@madaboutcheetah

 

The lioness was nicknamed Kamunyak, or The Blessed One. I think she adopted 6 baby Oryx in total before disappearing.

 

Saba Douglas-Hamilton did the documentary which was filmed in the Samburu area. It was an incredible story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rainbirder

Reminds me of the Lioness that adopted Oryx in Kenya a while ago ........ They made a documentary about it too ...... Samburu I think?

@@madaboutcheetah

 

The lioness was nicknamed Kamunyak, or The Blessed One. I think she adopted 6 baby Oryx in total before disappearing.

 

Saba Douglas-Hamilton did the documentary which was filmed in the Samburu area. It was an incredible story.

I should have stated in the initial post that this all took place in Samburu.

 

Whilst there is no value in trying to draw conclusions from this one incident this was not a typical hunt. The young female leopard spent about 40 minutes quartering the area and clearly following a scent trail. At one point she approached us quite closely. We took up position on a raised section of track which afforded a good view of the terrain -mainly dense low scrubby bushes and thornscrub (there is no off-roading in Samburu). Subsequently a number of other vehicles joined us -but everyone was quiet and well-behaved.

 

Eventually the leopard stumbled upon the young male oryx (we weren't sure what he was until he stood up). On the first interaction the infant oryx made an attempt to charge the leopardess however his lack of size and strength gave the appearance that he he was simply rubbing heads with the leopard. This had a disarming effect and the leopardess rubbed against and even appeared to "cuddle" the young oryx. This interaction played out in a small area between dense bushes so the views varied between good and obscured. On a number of occasions the leopard tapped the oryx with a front paw and even embraced the oryx but on all of these occasions where our views were good the claws appeared to be retracted. The leopardess was quite young -too young to have ever had cubs however we got the impression that the young oryx's behaviour might have been stimulating some maternal instincts in the leopard.

 

For a time we lost sight of the leopard and oryx. When we eventually saw the leopard again it appeared from an unexpected direction and to be honest I thought it was a different leopard initially! Shortly after this the young oryx bolted but was caught and quickly dispatched by the leopard (this final interaction was partially hidden from us). I have a number of images of the interaction which I still need to convert from Raw files and look at. I'll post more here in due course.

 

As I mentioned above one observation is not enough to draw any real conclusions but I wonder whether the behaviour of young Beisa Oryx at this stage -particularly their pitiful instinctive attempts at charging which effectively leads to "rubbing heads" might just stimulate the maternal instincts of susceptible large cat females. As Cal posts above - a young adult lioness adopted a series of infant baby oryx in Samburu and became an international celebrity.

 

In fact at the main entrance to Samburu there is a mural depicting a lioness walking beside an infant oryx with the words "Samburu, where nature defies itself!".

I think I know what they mean!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wilddog

Fascinating story and wonderful images. Thanks, Rainbirder

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Atravelynn

What a commentary about the leopard and Ben, along with your excellent photos. Thanks for this fascinating and harsh account of nature.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PT123

What an incredible and fascinating sighting, one that you will not likely forget anytime soon. Thanks for sharing and thanks for the terrific pictures as well. I can understand how this would be upsetting as it played out over a period of time and the outcome was somewhat inevitable. I too initially was reminded of the lioness in Shaba that "adopted" oryx calves and also of cheetah mothers that catch young gazelles so their cubs can practice hunting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This topic is quite old. Unless updating a photographic thread with new images, please consider starting a new discussion. Thank you.

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy