Written by: Simon Vegter
One of Kruger’s felines seems to have developed a fail-safe feeding scheme for herself and her young cub. This leopard has stationed herself at the De Laporte waterhole in the famous Kruger National Park.
The leopard stealthily obscures herself in some thick bushes off to the side and patiently waits. Once a herd of unsuspecting impala come down to drink and seem to relax and let down their guard, she literally springs into action.
With unbelievable speed, she rushes forward, causing one of the hapless antelope to panic and slip on the smooth concrete sides into the waterhole. She’ll then launch herself into the water and smother the animal with a snout grip (keeping her mouth over the impala’s mouth and nostrils), instead of the usual throat grip.
Apparently her killing technique has been repeated several times (at least three times that we know of) and head guide for Wild Wings Safaris, Simon Vegter, has been fortunate enough to witness and photograph it twice. On the first occasion, the leopard lost her kill to a pride of lions. But this time, she was able to keep the kill for herself. After pulling it from the waterhole, she proceeded to tuck into the impala’s rump area before dragging it across a dry riverbed towards a rocky hill, where her tiny cub was hiding, patiently waiting for its mother to bring lunch home.
It’s a rare privilege to witness a leopard kill in the wild as these magnificent cats are secretive and elusive, often hunting after dark, far away from watchful eyes. Simon has been fortunate to witness five leopard kills on our Kruger Park safaris during the past year
These images also highlight the incredible speed, strength and agility of leopards – she can drag a wet, adult impala up the steep and slippery sides of this waterhole with apparent ease. Leopards are undoubtedly the strongest of cats compared to body size, and can carry prey twice their body weight up vertical tree trunks.