Visitors enjoying a quiet breakfast at the Singita Ebony Lodge, a luxury hotel in South Africa's Sabi Sand Game Reserve, were treated to a rare encounter with a leopard in early September 2020. The handful of guests watched in awe —and a little trepidation — as the majestic animal, who appeared to be searching for a tasty morsel, calmly explored the various areas of the restaurant. Fortunately for the humans, nothing on the "menu" seemed to catch the leopard's fancy, and it left as abruptly as it had arrived.
Erika Wiese, who captured the footage of the leopard walking through the restaurant, told Kruger Sightings that she and the other guests were alerted to the predator's arrival by the alarm calls sounded by surrounding vervet monkeys. Also known as savanna monkeys, the smart mammals communicate the presence of each of their four-known predators — leopards, eagles, baboons, and pythons — with a unique call, allowing other members of their species to respond accordingly. For example, the short tonal call signaling a leopard is nearby cause the monkeys to scramble into trees, while the low-pitched grunts, indicating the presence of eagles, warns them to keep an eye on the skies.
The leopard, however, was not interested in the monkeys, but instead appeared to be in search of a bushbuck, or African antelope, that it had been stalking in a nearby riverbed earlier in the day. Wiese says, "The sighting ended with the leopard strolling calmly away from the deck area and out of sight towards the bushbuck who you can hear alarm calling at the end."
Wiese says that thanks to the lodge's well-trained staff, who are experienced at dealing with wild animal visits, and the strict safety rules in place, the guests all remained calm. She gushes, "We felt complete awe, reverence, respect, and gratitude. What a rare experience to have such an encounter with a leopard. The situation proved that wildlife and people can live and interact with each other in harmony and respect."
Located adjacent to Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Sabi Sand Game Reserve is home to a wide variety of animals, including over 144 mammal, 500 bird, 30 amphibian, and 110 reptile species. However, the area's main attraction is the presence of the Big Five — lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, and rhinos — which roam the game park in abundance.