While at the De Laporte waterhole in Kruger National Park in July 2016, guests with Wild Wing Safaris came across a leopard keenly watching a herd of impala that was coming to drink at the waterhole. Unfortunately for one male impala, he was more concerned about showing off to his herd than paying attention to nearby predators.
For over an hour we sat watching the leopard demonstrate its hunting skills and patience, which paid off when it made a spectacular kill and took down the impala ram in the waterhole.
However, unbeknownst to us – and the leopard – a pride of lions were nearby and heard the impala’s distress calls. They approached quietly and gave the leopard an almighty fright, but luckily the spotty feline managed to make a hasty retreat and escape alive.
The lions, clearly not wanting to get their feet wet, gingerly managed to haul the impala out of the waterhole by its horns and then proceeded to settle down and enjoy their free meal.
Watch the drama unfold in this video, which also clearly emphasises the dramatic difference in size between these apex predators, which are arch enemies and seldom seen together. The leopard also demonstrates its incredible speed and agility, which helped it to escape unscathed.
Some interesting facts about leopards and lions:
Leopards come in different sizes depending where they’re from. For example, Cape leopards are noticeably smaller than other leopards on the continent. In the Greater Kruger, males usually reach up to 80cm at shoulder height and weigh between 45 and 90kg (a record male weighed in at 97kg!) Females are generally smaller at 55-70cm at shoulder height and weigh between 30 and 60kg.
Lions also vary in size according to location, with males in Kruger National Park weighing an average of 190kg (418lb), while females weigh in at about 125kg (280lb), which is a good 10-20kg heavier than their East African brothers and sisters. And twice the size of an average leopard!
It was a truly memorable sight for both guide and guests, and another vivid reminder that you never know what to expect when out on a safari in the Kruger National Park in South Africa.