Rebecca DePorte

Camera: Nikon Z9

Lens: Nikon Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S

Aperture: f/5.6

Shutter speed: 1/250

ISO: 8000

Description: Natito makes the long trek back to where her cub hides under the brush. She hopes to arrive with his breakfast, the remains of Thompson Gazelle she caught that morning.

Story from behind the lens: Just after sunrise in late February, I saw Natito, one of the leopards of Olare Motorogi, on the horizon. She was walking purposefully. As she came closer to the safari vehicle, where I sat, following her movements through my camera lens, I saw that she had a Thompson’s Gazelle hanging from her mouth. My guide, Danson, explained that she had caught the gazelle earlier and was bringing it to her cub who was hidden in the brush. He said she had already covered quite a distance but still had far to go. The odds were against her making it back to the cub without interference.

Exactly four minutes later she began to run. That's when I spotted the hyena bounding towards her. I silently rooted for the leopard to make it to her cub, but within seconds the hyena caught up and stole the cub's breakfast. This was one of many moments during my time on safari where I witnessed the harsh reality of the lives of these animals who compete for survival, to eat food and to not be food.