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In The Tree

By Corinne Kendall
September 19, 2011
File under: Animal Behavior, Animal Stories, Endangered Species

Carcasses can be found almost everywhere. Over the course of the migration, thousands will be found in the river. Lions and hyenas often enjoy dragging their kills into the darkest recesses of the bush but more often then not, carcasses are lying out in the open plains just waiting for the vultures to find them.

On rare occasions, dead animals can get dragged into trees. In my first year, I had the pleasure of watching two White-headed vultures feed on a treed Thompson gazelle carcass before being pushed off by some tourists who seemed more interested in the carcass than the birds.

Today we came across a treed wildbeest, the head dangling from a branch with much of the body consumed. Sitting behind it was the cause – a large female leopard fast asleep after her efforts lay stretched limbs hanging below the branches and head resting on her paw. She was completely at peace – content with today’s efforts and meal.

We sat with her for a while and eventually she decided to get up. Her eyes opened first and were slowly followed by her sitting up, looking rather unsure that she was really ready to leave. She hissed a few times while moving the carcass around, trying to decide it was worth leaving.

When she finally leapt down, it was to grab one last piece (part of the spine), which she wandered off with, back into the bush. The carcass was well hidden beneath the branches and although vultures flew overhead I was pretty sure none would land here.

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