An interesting and unusual wildlife leopard kill
It was December, when Anton Kruger and his wife Renate were enjoying a slow drive in the Kruger National Park. When suddenly, in an open field near Letaba River Bridge they faltered upon a rare sighting… the birth of an impala lamb. But, that’s not all!
Anton says, “My wife is a midwife, so to behold the birth of this impala lamb was especially soul-stirring for her. Incidentally it’s not something you see every day. This powerless little creature with huge floppy ears beaming before us.”
However, at that heightened moment, what they did not realise, was that their hearts were about to be shattered!
The mother impala amidst bonding with her new-born sensed arising danger, her nose twitching! Suddenly, her natural instinct kicked in! Regrettably, she leaped away, fleeing her lamb to face its fate alone.
Just as suddenly as the impala leaped away, a large leopard jumped in on the scene. And, Anton says, “My wife was emotional; eyes closed, and tearful she could not watch. Be that as it may, throughout she remained in a state of denial. She was sure that the lamb would be unscathed. I too, was in a moment of shock”.
On watching this footage I was puzzled by the behaviour of the leopard. He seemed confused? Maybe, hesitant!
To clarify this, I chatted to Rickus Groenewald, an overland guide to get his take. He responds by saying, “Because the opportunity was there, the leopard’s instinct was to attack the ewe (mom), but he was distracted. Something else had caught his eye – the lamb!”
However, Rickus believes there was more to the attentive behaviour and hesitation. He says, “If you look up-close, the leopard’s belly seems relatively full. Perhaps he wasn’t all that hungry! Chances are the lamb was also a new scenario for the leopard – a new smell; a new shape; and in light something new that did not try and escape him.”
All of this may add up to what the leopard’s initial idea was, and what actually happened in real time.
Wildlife leopard kill ending
Watching the video footage, I like Renate was desperately wishing for a happy ending. Anton admits that in his and Renate’s denial they were both hoping for an outcome like the famous lioness in Tsavo who adopted the Oryx. Or even, Legadema the leopardess at Mombo who cared for the baby baboon.
Fortunately for leopards, or unfortunately for it’s prey, leopards and other cats remain opportunists! And with all paws will take any opportunity that presents itself!
Rickus concludes, “Even as a guide we are always encountering new information, interaction and behaviour of animals we think we know. We must realise, animals don’t read the books we do about their behaviour and naturally don’t always behave according to what we read about them.” Through life and death nature remains remarkable and unpredictable.
Anton finally settles, “My wife and I were both encouraged by the thought that this little lamb accomplished it’s calling very early on in life..!”
The wildlife leopard kill is courtesy of Tracy Burrows, original source Latest Sightings and Africa Geographic