A 5 minute drive afternoon drive out of Mfuwe Lodge in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park we stumble upon an incredible crime scene. An impala ewe lay sprawled on the bank of a dry ox-bow lake, surrounded by a troop of male yellow baboons. In the foreground was a herd of impala, puku and vervet monkeys. Along the tree line a warthog boar was feeding and on our side of the bank was a huge elephant bull. A nice mixed shopping basket. The dead impala had not been there that morning as we had driven the same area.
We concluded with the approval of the local guide that the incident had recently happened as the baboons were still barking into the nearby jesse bush thicket and there was the occasional whistle from the puku. For the impala it was out of site out of mind – why get a heart attack on stuff gone by – they were chilled and kept grazing. We had to wait and solve ‘the murder on the menu’.
A gully in the middle of the open could have been used by the assailant to hide and then pounce. The commotion may have attracted the neighbourhood watch team of baboons, monkeys and puku, resulting in them giving chase and forcing the serial killer into hiding. We were solving a mystery.
One baboon played sentry upon the summit of a sausage tree. He had a clear view from up top and kept jumping and violently shaking the branch he sat on. Suddenly a spotted creature appeared from a small chink in the thicket. It was a huge female leopard.
The baboons and monkeys got louder, attracting the attention of the warthog who then followed the tree line playing the investigating agent and mediator, getting between the impala carcass and the leopard. At one point he charged the leopard forcing her back into the thickets.
Being late afternoon the baboons started to head for their roosting site and gradually everyone lost interest and drifted off, allowing the cat to get her dinner before the hyenas arrived. The Luangwa boars have learnt to deal with daily trouble and are now fighting back.
Click on the first image then scroll through to see as a slideshow.