On an afternoon game drive, a leopard was located by Field Guide Tovhi Mudau. The leopard was found drinking at a watering hole with a full stomach.
Thinking she may have a kill nearby, they followed her when she left. As predicted, the leopard made her way back to a carcass, but the prey item couldn’t have been more of a surprise – a baby giraffe.
Once back at the kill, the leopard continued to feed on the giraffe, which was laying on the ground at the base of a tree. Leopards are known to hoist their kills into trees to keep out of reach of other predators like lions and hyenas.
However, a baby giraffe is more than double the weight of more typical prey (small to medium size antelope) and was likely too heavy to pull up.
Unfortunately, with her prey unprotected on the ground, it caught the attention of a hyena in the area. As the hyena made its approach, the leopard retreated up the tree. It would not be worth an injury to protect her kill.
The next morning, I made my way back to see if the leopard was still there. Lucky for us, during the night she had reclaimed her kill from the hyena, and this time managed to hoist it into the tree.
Though it would have been made lighter after being fed on, it still would be at least her own body weight that she carried up – an exceptional feat of strength. It would be more expected of a male leopard to kill and hoist a prey of this size, but for a female it is extraordinary.
She feasted on this kill for four days. On the final morning, the carcass was entirely gone from the tree. The remains likely fell and the rest was carried off by hyenas, leaving no trace behind of this exceptional event.
Words and Photos by: Head Guide Lion Sands Sabi Sand – Kelwan Kaiser