Thursday, 19 September 2013

Leopard vs Mother goose and chicks

This is why I'm bosbedonderd (bush crazy)

Before the bush camp was built in the Olifants River gorge in the Kruger National Park, we used to go tiger fishing there.  Virgin waters, virgin fish….

Tiger fish in rivers are sleeker and faster than those lazing around in dams and reservoirs.  The water in the gorge was wild, and so were the tigers.

First light found us already off the beaten track (= public roads), far into the wilderness.

As we forded a shallow stream on the firebreak we spotted what seemed to be a severely injured Egyptian goose some ten yards up the road. She was honking loudly, could barely walk, and was dragging one outstretched wing in the dust.  The next moment Nick de Beer, our host, touched my arm and whispered:  “Stop. Watch this”, pointing upstream.

In a deeper pool right next to the firebreak, eight tiny goslings resembling furry golf balls were silently swimming in circles under the overhang of a clump of reeds.

The leopard was just suddenly there, streaking up the road and closing in on the goose.  It simply materialised from nowhere; an uncanny leopard trick.  Broadcasting panic at peak volume the goose was flapping up the road.  Unable to take off, the goose barely managed to stay out of the leopard’s reach.  She would lift off and fly a short distance only to come crashing to the ground again.  The leopard redoubled its efforts with us following at a distance. 

This went on for a couple of hundred yards, when the leopard started tiring and slowing down.  So did the goose.  At one point the leopard sat down looking rather perplexed, the goose still some ten yards ahead of it.  The goose was now really struggling, trying to drag itself along with great effort.  This made the leopard perk up and start trotting towards the bird again.  With utmost effort the goose maintained the gap at a steady ten yards.   After a while the leopard sat down again panting, and the scenario repeated itself.

This scene kept on repeating itself until we were about a Kilometre up the firebreak.  Suddenly the goose made a miraculous recovery of Biblical proportions.  She took off smoothly with loud, triumphant honking and hissing, gained altitude, and circled back towards the now distant stream.

Her perfect albeit dangerous performance warranted a standing ovation.  It was mother love at its best.
If only leopards could talk..... Its body language was screaming obscenities.

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