One of our past safaris in the northern Serengeti coincided with the first rains of the season, outside the peak of the migration. The herds had moved on, leaving superb opportunities for viewing the resident game. One memorable afternoon, we watched a female leopard walk towards a large rocky outcrop and leap up effortlessly to where her sub-adult cub was waiting – they greeted by rubbing faces, and settled down to rest. Around us, a spectacular thunderstorm was brewing and the drama increased when we saw a pride of seventeen lions less than a hundred yards from the leopards.

Given the chance, lions will kill any other predator to reduce competition for food. At the same time that we noticed the lions, the leopards also caught sight of them. The mother tensed, and her cub watched her intently, aware of potential danger. As the lions stirred and gradually became more alert, they focused on the leopards – at this point, the mother decided it was time to go, and slipped off the rock with her cub in tow towards a stand of trees growing on one of the rocky outcrops. The lions lost interest, obviously deciding that the leopards weren’t worth the effort of chasing, and let them go unscathed.

The afternoon wore on and we stayed with the leopards as one of the most spectacular thunderstorms I’ve ever seen erupted all around us. What a privilege to have a pride of lions on one side, and two leopards on the other! This combination of no-one else around, fantastic game viewing, dramatic skies and thunderstorms is one of the aspects I love about this time of year in the northern Serengeti.