Wild Frontiers

Leopard and her cubs share in Kudu feast

This was nature at its rawest – a spectacularly unique yet harrowing sighting in the Khwai Concession which borders Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana.

We began our early morning game drive by admiring a lovely herd of kudu, impala and wildebeest grazing, warming up in the early morning sun. Shortly afterwards we were alerted to the presence of a leopard by the alarm call of a francolin.

leopard and cub, Khwai Concession, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana.

Traversing the area we came around a bend and were met with the sight of a kudu (likely to be from the herd we were just watching) which had been brought down by a female leopard. The kill was fresh, still lying on the side of the dirt road, and the leopard was still panting for breath. Meanwhile, her eldest cub was already gorging on the meal.

leopard cub with kudu kill, Khwai Concession, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

As the leopard began to bite and pull at the flesh we were shocked to see an amniotic sac carrying a fetus fall out. We were faced with the sad knowledge that this kudu was in fact pregnant, and had lost not only her own life but the life of her unborn baby.

leopard cub with kudu kill, Khwai Concession, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

Our guide mentioned that the leopard had another cub, only three months old, which she often hid while she went hunting. As this particular kudu was too big to drag we knew that when the female disappeared into the bushes that it was highly likely she was going to collect her baby and bring it to the kill.

leopard with three-month-old cub, Khwai Concession, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

She walked some distance, several kilometres, and then out of the trees emerged a nervous cub, eyes like saucers at being taken on this adventure. The cub tentatively followed her mother back to the kill where they settled down to enjoy the meal.

There’s little that prepares you for sightings like this. A stark reminder that you are in the wild, one life lost is another life enhanced – the circle of life.

three-month-old leopard cub, Khwai Concession, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

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  • Julia Sá

    Yes Life sure goes its way in the food chain. It is so in the whole world. I see this in the National Park of the Pantanal Brazil – Porto Jofre, When the Jaguars, hunt the alligators and Capybaras
    “A reminder that you are in nature, a lost life is another life improved – the circle of life.”

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