Photo Credit: Latest Sightings

It is a treat to see a leopard in the wild and an even greater one to see a cheetah; imagine how exciting it must have been to see both at one time!


South Africa (08 July 2020) – Thokozani Phakathi was gifted with an incredible sighting; one that included the stealth of a leopard and the speed of a cheetah.

While on holiday a while back, he filmed something truly exceptional. Thokozani had left camp at Pretoriuskop, Kruger National Park for one last day of sightings before heading home. It was this final day that made the entire trip.

Thokozani’s sighting has us feeling rather envious! The cheetah is a bucket-list sighting! One yet to have been ticked off my personal list. He shared his experience with Latest and commented on what a brilliant weekend it was.

“When power meets speed and when stealth triggers explosion, the results are almost uncertain.”
-  Thokozani Phakathi, a 40-year-old Provincial Sales Manager

“We were staying in Pretoriuskop, it was during my favourite season where the camp gates open at 4h30. It was our last day for our weekend stay after a fantastic sighting the previous day where we witnessed 3 male lions killing a buffalo a few meters away from Skukuza camp entrance.”

“We decided to drive around first before leaving the park later through either Malelane or Crocodile Bridge. As usual, we left the camp as the gate open and drove east on H1-1 towards Skukuza. It was a very quiet drive but we were enjoying the greenery, the sunrise, the bush sounds and the entire refreshing atmosphere. As we were towards transport dam vicinity around 6h00, boom! – a huge male leopard patrolling and scent marking the territory.”

“The leopard was walking easterly along the road, and would sometimes go deeper into the bush but would come back again. As it was Sunday morning, most guests were making their way out of the park, so they didn’t spend much time with the beast. Whenever he goes deeper, they would lose interest and leave the sighting. We stayed on and drove over 2km with the elusive cat. As we drove along, we noticed a small convoy of cars driving slowly westerly direction towards us, but we were not bothered and continued to focus on our prize.”

“We suddenly noticed the leopard looking straight at the oncoming traffic and immediately switched into predator mode. Now we started paying attention, but we couldn’t see what was going on as we were against the sun. We waited a while and started hearing the sounds of a cheetah calling. At this point, the leopard was already on stalking mode – tip-toeing, squatting on the road and focused on the target. We suddenly noticed a young male cheetah also scent-marking but with a frantic distressed call. It appeared as if he was looking for a missing family member or has been kicked out of the coalition. The sneaky opportunistic leopard moved swiftly and positioned itself exactly where the unwary cheetah would pass, using a tree trunk as a shield and buffer right next to our car.”

“It was hair-raising, blood-curdling and exhilarating moment as no one knew what would happen during this fierce encounter, as the unwary cheetah was walking straight into the powerful claws and jaws of the ambushing leopard. The cheetah had no clue what was lying ahead on his way. Honestly, I was feeling sad for the unwary cheetah; but in that moment of despair, I was quickly reminded by my inner being that nature is always natural, it stays true to itself always, it doesn’t fake anything, it execute its natural laws effectively without fail, fear or mercy – all driven by natural instinct. I was then at peace with the fact that whatever happens, let it be because its in line with Mother Nature’s will – these rival predators will always compete for space, food and other precious resources.”

“Just as the cheetah was few meters away, the master of disguise pounced for a strike, the cheetah jolted with shock but accelerated and ran for his dear life. At some point, it was only the cheetah’s tale separating the two spotted cats, but the land fastest mammalian on earth seized the moment to live up to his title and dashed-off, escaping potential injuries or death as he was no match to that hefty fellow predator. After the grisly episode which lasted less than 60 seconds, the cheetah was so shaken and was trembling like a leaf. He was even jumping in fear whenever tree branches were coming to contact with his legs or tail.”

“This is an unforgettable encounter that I will cherish for as long as my mind, heart, body and soul are together. Seeing and capturing these two formidable predators in one frame was the most special moment of my being. It’s a rare sighting I might never see again in my lifetime. I was happy that both cats survived to live another day in order to continue beautifying the African savanna and execute their moral obligations to the ecosystem as prescribed by Mother Nature. It is such moments that make Kruger National Park such a very special place and the only paradise on earth that encapsulates the essence of pure African beauty, diverse wildlife and memorable sightings whenever and wherever you may be in the park.”

Take a look at the sighting below.

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Tyler Leigh Vivier
About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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