Seeing lions and leopards near your camp is a common occurrence in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, but when a leopard appears on your patio is both a thrilling and terrifying experience.
Today we have Rod and Yvette Elliot share their experience of seeing a leopard on their patio.
“As senior citizens, our first ever trip to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is never to be forgotten and was an adventure to say the least. We had a sedan car (I concede not the best), got stuck in the sand a few times and traveled with Rod’s portable renal equipment for his peritoneal dialysis. We express a vote of thanks to passes by and friendly park staff, for their kind assistance helping us out of the sand.
It is a long way to drive, but what an amazing park KTP is, quite different to Kruger and other National Parks. The adventure was made all the more exciting in chalet 14 in Mata Mata on the morning of 15 August, Rod’s birthday.
At about 5am that morning, the jackals that are regularly seen in front of the chalets began crying, howling and eventually barking. This went on until I had to try and see what was going on. I shone the torch through the window and spotted the jackals running to and fro but with the shine of the light on the window decided that I would have a better view from the patio – I thought, “even though it is still dark, there is electric fencing in the front for safety!”
I dressed quickly and with torch shining, went to the lounge sliding door to step outside. I drew back the curtain and flicked the door latch. In the same moment my heart stopped as I saw the movement of a leopard right next to the table on the patio.
In a flash I flicked the door latch down again and couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have spotted him and not to have opened that door! I rushed to our young grandchildren Rachel and Michael, to wake them to see this amazing sight and at the same time called to Rod that there was a ‘leopard on the patio!’
We were all so excited and couldn’t believe our eyes! We carefully opened a few more curtains and I must admit I was quite startled when the leopard’s face was right in front of mine, with his front paws on the windowsill trying to see his way off the patio.
The children learned the meaning of the words ‘stealth’ and ‘slink’, as for about 10 minutes in the gloom of predawn, we watched the leopard pad from side to side around the patio deciding which way was best to jump down. I was hoping that he would stay there a while longer till it became lighter, but it was not to be.
At Mata Mata the chalets are part of the boundary between park and camp and even though the electricity is off at night a generator serves the electric fence. But, as we witnessed in our chalet, there is a gap between the fencing and the bedroom wall and windowsill, just enough room for a young leopard to get a foothold without getting shocked by the electric fence. From a Facebook page I learned that many visitors leave the doors open in the hot months and even sleep on the patios! Beware folk, a leopard is an inquisitive cat, though as it is a fenced camp, the staff ensure us that they will take some new measures to keep the chalets safe for visitors.
An experience of note, an adrenaline rush and amazing privilege to see this beautiful creature at close range and for Rod, a birthday present of a lifetime!”
At the beginning of the year a leopard attacked a woman at Matopi 1 Camp on the Botswana side of Kgalagadi, you can read the story here.