Lions steal Leopard kill

Lions steal Leopard kill

It was the alarm whistle from a puku antelope that alerted us to the leopards’ presence. She was lying on a bough of a beautiful ebony tree regarding us with total disinterest. There was also a young bull elephant under the tree quietly feeding on fallen ebony fruit. Surprisingly the leopard and the elephant were at times within a few meters of each other but neither seemed to mind the others presence. Once the elephant had moved off we drove slowly up to the leopard, stopping every few metres to allow her to get used to our presence. She was very relaxed however and as we got closer we could see (and smell!) that there were the remains of a kill hidden in the dense foliage near her.

She soon resumed feeding and as we sat watching her I noticed a movement to the right behind a combretum bush. On closer inspection I could make out a lioness standing behind the bush! We watched with fascination as she crept silently towards us moving deliberately from one bush to the other. The leopard was completely unaware of her presence as was the Puku who was still standing nearby looking up into the tree and whistling. This was obviously what had alerted the lioness to the fact that there was another predator nearby and therefore an opportunity to steal a meal.

As the lioness crept to within a few meters of the tree we began to feel real concern for the leopard. Lions do kill leopards on occasion and the branch was fairly close to the ground. Suddenly the lioness rushed the tree, climbing quickly and aggressively towards the leopard. We needn’t have worried about the Leopard though, her reaction was instantaneous and she catapulted herself up the branch and on up the trunk of a strangler fig that was attached to the ebony. She had left her kill behind however and the lioness wasted no time in beginning to feed. The leopard had obviously had a terrible fright and was growling furiously from her perch high up in the fig tree.



We could now see that this particular lioness was one of the two lactating females from the Lion Camp pride and her companion soon joined her. These two females had been spotted in the area recently with their six 3-month-old cubs. We hadn’t seen them for some time so it was wonderful when they came stumbling and mewling out of the bushes. A few of them climbed up into the tree but there was nothing much left of the kill by this time. One of the cubs picked up a bone and a fight soon ensued over that!


Once the lions had climbed down again there was a lot of activity under the tree with the cubs trying to suckle and the mothers not letting them! The racket from the cubs was extraordinary. A third female also joined the group and she appeared to be expecting. The cubs had a go at suckling from her but were swatted angrily away. They eventually settled down and they all fell asleep under the tree. By this time it was nearly midday and we decided to leave them to it. As we drove away we could see the leopard had climbed out onto a branch and she too had fallen fast asleep!

Content Copyright Patrick Bentley Photography

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