It’s one of the most elusive big cats and most people out on a game drive would be lucky to catch a glimpse of the notoriously shy leopard.
That’s why guests and staff at Singita Ebony Lodge in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve were so gobsmacked when an adult leopard took a lazy afternoon stroll through the lodge’s reception area. A handful of guests were having lunch when the big cat surprised them with his visit.
Video footage taken by Reg Calmeyer, a guest, shows the leopard calmly pausing on the wooden decking. Then, after having a look around, he languidly strolls away again, vanishing into the bushes.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Lisa Carey, the lodge’s publicity manager, tells YOU. The Singita Ebony Lodge is situated near Hazyview in Mpumalanga.
Shortly before the leopard’s lodge visit, he’d been spotted stalking a bushbuck in the nearby dry riverbed, Lisa says. But a troop of monkeys spotted the leopard and sounded the alarm, prompting the bushbuck to make its escape.
Lisa says the leopard hadn’t entered the lodge restaurant, as previously reported in the media.
“We aren’t aware of any similar incidents in the lodge’s 27-year existence,” she adds. “You often spot them moving in the bushes but they’re wary of buildings.”
The lodge strongly advises people to steer clear of predators, she says. There are strict safety protocols in place should such an incident occur.
“The leopard wasn’t a threat to guests or staff at any stage. After the bushbuck ran off, he calmly strolled through the main reception and disappeared into the bushes. It was an incredible privilege for all of us to observe the animal so close up,” she says.
“This is leopards’ natural habitat. We always say we live with them, not the other way around. It’s important to us that humans and animals live in harmony – after all, they were here first.”