25th June 2019
I think it’s pretty fair to say that most people who go on safari would love to see a kill. Lion, leopard, cheetah, hyaena or wild dog kill. Or better still, all of them. An African Wild Cat in an epic struggle with its prey just doesn’t make the grade and have the awe of a lion killing. But in reality the struggle is no less real. It was very early morning. No sign of the hopefully approaching dawn. Thankfully that part of life is always a given. For most of us dawn WILL come. But not for this little fella. My spotlight was scanning as I drove. To the right, a small pair of eyes close to the ground. I would pick them up again as I rounded the small Shepherds bush. Just then the screaming started. I thought I’d startled a bunch of birds in the bush. It got louder and louder and more intense. As I moved past the bush I saw those eyes again, jumping around frantically. An African Wild Cat had just caught a Banded Mongoose and that’s what all the screaming was about. The mongoose fought hard tossing the cat this way and that, but the cat held fast with a strangle hold desperately trying to keep the mongoose’s sharp teeth out of the foray. They have serious teeth and a serious bite to go with it. One bite and the mongoose could snap the cats’ leg. To my right was a huge tree stump, a Nyala berry, from which the panic alarm calls of the rest of the troop emanated. There was nothing they could do. This little guy was on his own. The cat held fast. It had to subdue its prey before the real work of suffocating could begin. The cat was about 3 times the size of the mongoose and eventually the mongoose tired and slowly the screaming subsided. It was all over except for one final struggle. It had lasted nearly 10minutes, longer than most lion and leopard kills. The mongooses mouth was wide open showing its teeth as the cat held tight on its throat. This brought back memories of a lion killing one of my hyaenas. The visuals were very much the same, just on a different scale. But the struggle was just as epic. With the mongoose dead the cat, still holding it by the throat dragged it off between its legs. That same classic move we see with lions and leopards as they drag their prey. The cat disappeared into a thicket, no doubt to enjoy its meal.
The only other animal I’ve heard make so much noise in its struggle for life, is a warthog when being killed by lion or leopard. But why was this mongoose out at night? They’re diurnal animals. On several occasions I’ve seen them out at night, but only here on Sango.
25th June 2019