Leopard and baboons standoff at AAC
A rare encounter between a big cat and a troop of angry baboons during the recent African Amateur Championship at Leopard Creek Golf Estate on Wednesday left Trevor Saulez with a unique experience that he will never forget.
Baboons are not exactly the most peaceful monkeys on the planet.
With their bad attitudes, razor-sharp canines and their fearsome faces, baboons are among the most aggressive in the animal kingdom but they don’t get nearly as much attention as the graceful feline predators like lions and leopards.
On Wednesday, during the second round of the international championship, Saulez got an eyeful of that frightening aggression when he inadvertently stumbled upon a mob of angry baboons defending their territory against a lone male leopard.
‘I was walking with my son Matt and his playing partners and as they were walking to the 11th tee, I started down towards the green,” said Saulez.
“I went down the hill and I was just crossing the creek in the dip when I heard a huge commotion. The grass is pretty long in that area and at first I could just hear, but as I cleared the grass, I watched this fuming mad troop of baboons attacking a leopard at the green.”
The altercation caused a slight delay in play and left Saulez with an everlasting memory of having witnessed something quite extraordinary.
“First it was the unbelievable racket they all made,” Saulez said. “The leopard’s growls cut to the bone and the baboons went ballistic; it was the most angry, most violent noise I’d ever heard. Next thing, it was just bared teeth and fur flying as the baboons set upon the leopard. I was about 40 metres away and scared as hell, but I was so mesmerized that I just couldn’t look away.”
The standoff lasted less than a minute and ended with the leopard taking cover in a tree.
“I think there were about 10 baboons, but it could well have been more, and there was this one huge male leading the troop,” said Saulez.
“They went all out for the leopard. He growled at first and tried to stand his ground, but when the big baboon came straight for him with the rest on his heels, the leopard high-tailed it up a tree.
“The baboons mauled around the bottom and carried on screaming, but they left a few minutes later. I know leopards hunt baboons but to see the leopard on the receiving end of that attack was something else. We all know that we spot wildlife at Leopard Creek and we’ve seen a lot of it being televised during the Alfred Dunhill Championship, but I never expected to see an altercation like in the middle of a golf championship.”
Saulez said he thought about peeking up in the tree after the baboons left the scene.
“It was a very brief thought, but that leopard would have been pretty irritated, so I stayed put and waited for the players,” he said. “They heard the commotion on the tee box, but couldn’t see anything from their viewpoint. Play was only delayed for a minute of two, then it was business as usual, but I must admit, I replayed that scene in my head a 100 times as we finished the last seven holes.”