The death of a leopard in the Klaserie

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Survival of the fittest means only one thing; that those who are weaker will succumb, and those who succeed will prosper. When predators take down prey, we call it the circle of life, when predators take on predators, it is a vicious and brutal fight, often to the death. Competition in the wild is rife. It’s every man for himself, and each pride for their own.

This week the Greater Kruger Park lost a leopard; a young female we had seen with her kill just the night before. Her belly was still full as she lay motionless in the grass, her fur slightly dishevelled, and evidence of bite marks puncturing her neck.

The two Ross Pride lionesses dominate the area around Africa on Foot and nThambo Tree Camp, and currently they are hiding one small cub. The instinct to protect their young, and the determination to eliminate the enemy would give these lions enough reason to kill a leopard in their path.

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Perhaps she took a turn into lion territory that night and had no chance to escape the ruthless lionesses as they set out to hunt. The next morning the lions were found triumphantly feeding on their buffalo prey, while their faded tracks led back to the lifeless young leopard in the distant grass.

The recent rains have flushed the evidence from the ground, but it seems that the Klaserie Reserve saw a battle between cats in the early hours of the morning. One youthful leopard no match for a team of ferocious lionesses with a cub to protect.

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Enoch and Patrick from Africa on Foot discovered the upsetting sight on morning game drive. A golden pelt decorated with ebony rosettes – a vision so sought after on safari that even in death she was majestic. By nightfall last night, her scent had been detected, and she did not go to waste. A camera trap we set up captured hyenas in the darkness, dragging her body away.

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Sometimes jubilant, at times, devastating, the African bush is a combination of celebration and destruction. Standing next to the silent body of a leopard in all her glory was a reminder of the brutality of it all. Watch Kevin MacLaughlin’s video on this story, taking a look at the unforgiving nature of the wild, and the aftermath of this big cat battle.

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