Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Masai Mara, Kenya IV

She waited, and watched, and bided her time. The wildebeest herd walked past warily, skittish, sometimes within 20 feet of her. Eventually, though, there were no more wildebeest to contemplate. They’d all moved along.

We sat for hours, broiling in the sun, peering through binoculars at the leopard’s elusive form. Then she popped out into the sun, strolled right past the assembled safari and film trucks, then vanished into thick brush, casually disappearing from 50 sets of eyes.

She reappeared a mile away, moving silent as death through tall grass 300 meters toward the herd. I saw a flurry of motion, saw the leopard’s shape being lifted off the ground by a struggling wildebeest calf. The calf didn’t rise a second time.

The leopard held it in a death grip, then slowly dragged 80 pounds of dead weight back to the forest’s edge. She straddled the carcass, pulled with muscles straining a dozen steps, then stopped to rest.


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