During the course of the morning, the Selati male was successful in bringing down an impressive male duiker. He eventually stashed the kill in a large Marula tree, showing all the guests once again the immense power of a leopard as he hoisted it up into the canopy.
The Selati male had been feeding on his catch all day when he decided to descend from the tree. Here he continued to groom himself as well as rest as he attempted to digest his meal from that morning.
When it came to the evening game drive, the leopard had been fairly calm throughout the day, and I decided that I should make my approach to the sighting in order show my guests the rare spectacle of observing an apex predator feeding on its kill.
Shortly after entering the sighting, one could see that the male’s body posture had changed dramatically. The Selati male had assumed the classic leopard-stalking stance almost flat on the ground. The guests and I were trying to figure what was going on with this sudden change in posture.
Then, suddenly the leopard erupted out of the grasses, landing on top of a small animal. Without having a good view and only hearing the distress calls of the animal it was assumed by all of us on the vehicle that the Selati male had caught a Scrub hare. After further investigation we discovered that he had a very small duiker in his mouth. Trying to make sense of the whole scene, it was concluded that whilst the baby duiker was practicing its best form of defense by lying completely still to avoid detection, the Selati male was successful in catching what we assume to be the male duiker’s offspring.
It was then that the leopard showed us some very interesting behavior as he caught the young duiker. He proceeded to play with his catch, picking the duiker up and placing it down on the ground again leaving it unharmed. The young duiker would continuously try and make a break for freedom enticing the leopard to catch him once again. It was as if the leopard was playing a game.
This rare interaction took place for close on 30 minutes before the leopard eventually killed the young duiker and proceeded to feed on his second catch for the day.
BY: JOSH LEE (BUSH LODGE RANGER)
IMAGES BY: JOSH LEE AND RICHARD DE GOUVEIA