Spotting a leopard

Since the dawn of time, it has been written in the stars that I will achieve something great, and that is seeing all of the Big Five game animals. I crossed three of them – the African lion, African elephant, and Cape buffalo – off my list in Addo, and sighted a black rhino during my first day in Kruger National Park yesterday. But the African leopard had eluded me, just as gainful employment eludes a South Sydney fan. That, however, was soon to change.

I woke up early this morning, shook off my hangover, and raced to my car to begin the search. I was just about to back out of the drive when a fat, bald bloke with a bushy moustache knocked on my window.
“Do you want to buy a house?” he asked me. Seeing as I’m staying in the cheapest hostel in Kruger, he shouldn’t have been surprised by my response.
“Are you going to see the animals in the park?” he asked.
“Yep,” I replied.
“Well I have nothing to do today,” he said, obviously trying to weedle his way into my car. While he trotted off to put his safari suit on I got the hell out of there. Fucking Saffas.

I was prepared for an all-day hunt for leopards, but shortly after venturing into Kruger I spotted one! They’re hard to miss, because they’re about four metres tall with big, long necks and legs that look like telegraph poles. I was rapt to have completed my search for the Big Five, and sat back to watch the majestic leopard eating leaves from the highest tree top.

I was so happy with my success that I immediately sent a photo of the leopard to my father, and pepared to bask in his pride and adulation. However, he immediately called me and was determined to ruin my good mood with some bad news.
“Hi, champ,” he said, using a nickname for me that is certainly fitting. “I’m incredibly proud of you for being an inspiration to millions, having unrivalled success in your career, having sex with countless women -many of them with four fully-functioning limbs, and generally being very cool. I also prefer you to your brother. I’m so proud of you for hunting down and finding rare and exotic animals in remote parts of South Africa. Honestly, you’re a hero to me.

“But I have to question that leopard you spotted. Now, I’ve never seen any of the Big Five – I’ve seen similar critters in Sri Lanka but they certainly don’t count – but I can assure you that’s not a leopard. It’s a fucking giraffe. I should know, because I taught you the difference between giraffes and leopards three decades ago and you didn’t get it back then. Leopards are relatively small cats, while giraffes are gigantic, long-necked horselike creatures. If you don’t know the difference by now, you’re obviously a fucking imbecile.

“Oh, and judging by the nude photos you’ve put up on your blog, your knowledge of wild animals isn’t the only thing that hasn’t grown since you were a toddler.” I guess that’s the sort of attitude my dad has when he doesn’t get his 18 hours sleep a night.

I was crushed, but remained determined to encounter the Big Five despite the setback. I found a sign that told me leopards had been spotted in a far-flung corner of the park, so I fired up the Hyundai and scorched over there, narrowly avoiding endangered animals as I went. Honestly, they wouldn’t be nearly as endangered if they didn’t keep running in front of cars. I saw a bunch of vehicles parked by the side of the road and frantically headed over there.

“Wild dogs,” a woman told me.

“You can shove your wild dogs up your arse,” I told her, and sped out of there.

I crossed rivers and climbed mountains, plunged into valleys and shot across wide, open plains. Finally, with the day dying, I found myself slumped over the steering wheel and surrounded by thick jungle, weeping at my failure. I’d come all this way and failed. Then I heard a snarl, and looked up to see a gigantic leopard just metres away. I stared in amazement, snapped a few photos, and then he was gone. I sat there in silence, the enormity of my achievement slowly seeping into my mind. I’d done it. I’d finally become a man.

Alright, so I never found a leopard. But I doubt Stephen Hawking has ever seen one, either, and no one gives him shit for it.

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