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EXTRACT FROM THE FOLLOWING THIRD PARTY SOURCE: Written by: Tracy Burrows for Latest Sightings

Early one morning, Daniel McWilliam was travelling in the Kruger National Park, approximately two kilometres west of Lower Sabie rest camp when he came across this once in a lifetime sighting.

Daniel visits national and private parks as often as possible, and exclaims: “I have never witnessed interaction like this before”. This trip to the Kruger was the first time that he was part of the Latest Sightings community in the Kruger, and he says that “it made a huge difference to our trip.” Perhaps the other key to seeing this sighting was due to his patience. “Others came and went, missing the action,” he remarks.

lion-kruger©Daniel McWilliam

Two pairs of mating lions were spotted across the river. Daniel photographed and observed the lions for about 10 minutes. “At this stage, I didn’t think it could possibly get any better,” he says.

That is until he spotted the leopard sitting on the rock!

leopard-on-rock-kruger©Daniel McWilliam

“Having two of the Big 5 within 150 metres of each other was simply unbelievable,” says Daniel. And then, as the lions started moving, he saw the opportunity to snap an image of a leopard and lion together.

lion-approaches-leopard©Daniel McWilliam

From that moment, things happened quickly. The lion sprinted towards the cubs! “This is when the leopard jumped off of the rock and challenged him. I believe this was the distraction required to save her cubs,” says Daniel. “You can see in the sequence of the images as quickly as she jumped down and took on this huge male lion, she was back up on top of the boulder out of harm’s way, now that the cubs were safely hidden under the boulder.

lion-comes-up-to-leopard
©Daniel McWilliam
leopard-jumps-down-off-rock
©Daniel McWilliam
leopard-hisses-at-lion
©Daniel McWilliam
leopard-follows-lion
©Daniel McWilliam

For the first two months of any leopard cub’s life, their mother keeps them hidden in dense bush, rock clefts or hollow tree trunks. And typically they stay with their mom for approximately 1.5 years, during which time she will teach and protect them. Only when they can hunt for themselves, will they leave their mother’s side. Once the male realised he had no access to the cubs, he quickly lost interest. And mother leopard proudly stood atop her rock and watched him stroll away. Daniel says: “Perhaps it was my perception, but as he turned around, he surely wore a look of defeat”.

lion-backs-off
©Daniel McWilliam
lion-retreats-and-leopard-safe
©Daniel McWilliam

Daniel concludes: “Always pay extra careful attention to your surroundings. Often this will allow you to witness things you may have missed!”

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