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Leopard with its kill in a tree in South Luangwa, Zambia
© Andre Erlich

Entries for our Photographer of the Year 2019 are filling up our inbox at an incredible pace. We’re three weeks in and have already received hundreds of great photos. Recently we received a series of photos of a leopard with her kill (and her attempt to climb a tree with it) which caught our attention, and we just had to share it with you. Continue reading to find out more about this fantastic sighting.

Leopard with its kill in a tree in South Luangwa, Zambia
© Andre Erlich

Written, and photographs, by Andre Erlich (Facebook & Instagram)

In June 2018, my wife and I stayed at Remote Africa’s Tafika Camp in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. It was a great camp with some unbelievable sightings. I have never seen such a large density of leopards as in South Luangwa – day and night!

One day, on a morning drive, we saw a leopard (a mother of a teenage cub) dragging her freshly killed antelope towards a tree which she clearly planned on climbing. We must have missed the hunt itself just by a few minutes.

Leopard with its kill climbing a tree in South Luangwa, Zambia
© Andre Erlich

Interestingly, the night before we saw the same leopard, though that time she had a different kill – which was unfortunately stolen by a pack of painted wolves.

Leopard with kill at night in South Luangwa, Zambia
The leopard with a kill the night before, attempting to get it up a tree © Andre Erlich

Because of what happened the night before, she must have been anxious to safekeep her current kill and get it high up into the tree before any other predators or scavengers came along.

Painted wolves, or wild dogs, eating leopard's kill
Unfortunately she didn’t get far as a pack of painted wolves stole her kill © Andre Erlich

Quintessence of power and agility, leopards are excellent tree climbers and they often hoist their kill to protect it from not only painted wolves, but from the likes of hyenas and lions too.

Leopard with its kill falling from a tree in South Luangwa, Zambia
© Andre Erlich

This particular leopard either overestimated her climbing skills or underestimated the weight of the antelope, but as she was climbing higher and higher the branch suddenly snapped under the combined weight of the hunter and the prey, and she came crashing down with a look of utmost surprise on her face!

Leopard falling from tree with kill in South Luangwa, Zambia
© Andre Erlich

Upon landing, she looked a bit shaken, but totally unscathed… and the antelope was still very dead.

Leopard looking up at tree in South Luangwa, Zambia
© Andre Erlich

Looking quite surprised, the leopard scanned the tree from which she fell and understood very quickly that she needs to reduce the weight of the antelope. And what better way to do that but by eating as much of it as possible!

Leopard in South Luangwa, Zambia
© Andre Erlich

So, she started devouring her lunch (her cub was hiding under the nearby bushes) right at the landing site and then dragged it into the bushes to share with her offspring.

Young leopard cub in South Luangwa, Zambia
The leopard’s young cub keeping a low profile © Andre Erlich

It was then that we left the leopard and her cub alone and continued on our morning drive. Later that night, however, we returned to find both the half-consumed antelope and a very full leopard safe in the tree.

Leopard with its kill in a tree in South Luangwa, Zambia
© Andre Erlich

I am sure the leopard won’t forget the lesson learned from this memorable adventure any time soon.

Leopard sleeping in tree in South Luangwa, Zambia
© Andre Erlich


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