NAME: Chris Renshaw
DIARY ENTRIES: 8
PHOTOS UPLOADED: 91
VIDEOS UPLOADED: 0
CURRENT COMPANY: Safari Architects
The sound of ververt monkeys alarm calling always sparks a rush of adrenalin in any guide. Something is happening. A predator of sorts has been sighted and the manic calls send a rippling wave of warning through the troop ranks. Leopards!
A fellow guide had heard the same alarm calls and got there just as the Ravenscourt young male leopard (under the watchful eye of his mother) was catching his very first ververt monkey. It was a very young monkey, an infant and could not have been more than a few weeks old. He caught it with what every cat has: instinct, speed, agility and the ability to seize an opportunity. The mother ververt had momentarily left the ground to investigate some fruit not 5 metres away, when the leopard charged in. He did not kill it, but proceeded to play with his quarry. Tossing it up and down, pawing, licking and jabbing it, climbing trees and dropping it, only to pounce on the shell-shocked monkey repeatedly. It was heart wrenching to watch, but we all knew that this was nature at its most raw, and sat transfixed. With the cries of the mother and the rest of the troop nearby, the infant held on to life and fought for freedom valiantly.
A sharp growl from the mother leopard indicated that something else was to add to the dynamic. From behind our vehicle an adult hyena suddenly appeared. The cub (monkey in tow) and mother dashed up a tree with the hyena skulking in for any signs of scraps. Growling continued until the hyena realised that there was no meal to be had, and it casually lay down 10 metres away below the tree.
This prompted the young male leopard to begin to play with his quarry once again, as mother leopard watched on impatiently. All of a sudden the cub dropped the still alive infant. Chaos erupted! Monkeys chattered, the Hyena bolted in, the cub lost his nerve, but the calm and elegant mother leopard simply dropped down, and in one motion retrieved the monkey and climbed to a higher part of the tree. She showed her disdain for her cub\'s mistake and the hyenas presence by quickly putting the infant to death. Simple, quick and lethal. With soft bones and young fur, she ate the infant whole. The cub was left a spectator, brooding on his mistake and learning a harsh lesson. The alarm calls of the mother ververt slowly subsided, and she moved off, accepting the harsh laws of the forest.
A once in a lifetime sighting that my guests and I will never forget! The harshness and reality of what we had just witnessed settled in and we drove back to the camp individually contemplating the raw power of life and death in the African bush.